The Truman Show

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 18 May, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 18 May, 2011, 12:00am


Set-up: The Truman Show tells the story of a man who is unaware his life is being broadcast on TV, 24 hours a day, to billions of viewers across the world. The film was released just as reality TV was starting to become a popular form of entertainment. It took the idea of television intruding into people's lives to a frightening extreme.

The film became a great success at the box office mainly because of its star, Jim Carrey. The Canadian comic actor was keen to star in the movie to show off his skills as a dramatic actor. He did not want to be typecast forever as just a rubber-faced funny man.

The Truman Show provided a clever balance of satire, drama and comedy. It established Carrey as a genuine actor.

Plot: Although he doesn't know it, Truman Burbank has lived his entire life in front of television cameras. He is the star of a hit reality programme The Truman Show. As an orphan baby, Truman was adopted by a television corporation, which made him the star of his own carefully crafted reality show.

He is now in his early 30s and his every move is recorded by thousands of hidden cameras. Unknown to him, the idyllic little town where he lives is a film set built under a giant dome. All the people in Truman's life are actors who just play their parts. When Truman falls in love with one of the characters, she is taken off the set by the producers who have other ideas about Truman's future.

Slowly, Truman starts to notice strange things happening and begins to wonder what is going on. He decides to explore. But the producers of the show do everything in their power to prevent him from leaving his artificially controlled environment.

Big Brother: Television show Big Brother pits a group of contestants called housemates against one another in a custom-built studio. They live there, cut off from the outside world, for several weeks. Cameras and microphones planted around the set record their activities.

Each week, viewers vote the least interesting housemate off the show. The last one left is the winner and receives a large cash prize. The show originated in the Netherlands, but it became truly popular only after the British version started in 2000. Viewers were immediately hooked.

The show's name comes from George Orwell's 1949 novel Nineteen Eighty-Four, which imagines a future society where everyone's activities are monitored by a sinister unseen presence called Big Brother. The show has paved the way for many spinoffs in different settings - from desert islands to the homes of dysfunctional families.

The Puppy Squad: People say a picture is worth a thousand words. Sometimes, though, one picture is worth thousands of dollars. Paparazzi are photographers who specialise in taking unofficial pictures of celebrities. Paparazzi, whose name comes from an Italian film, are called 'the puppy squad' in China.

Every paparazzo dreams of striking it rich by taking a photograph that newspapers all over the world will want to buy. Many celebrities live in a mutually beneficial relationship with the paparazzi. They complain that the photographers intrude in on their privacy. But at the same time, celebs benefit from the constant attention which allows them to stay in the public eye.

But some paparazzi go too far. In 1999, a newspaper in Hong Kong was found guilty of an illegal act when it published an unauthorised photo of a pregnant Faye Wong.

I'm a celeb! American artist Andy Warhol famously said that everybody can be famous for 15 minutes. Reality television shows have proved him right by plucking everyday people out of obscurity for a short spell in the limelight.

In the past, fame generally had to be earned through hard work and achievement. In this age of 24-hour mass media, people can become hugely famous simply because of their ability to create publicity, good or bad, for themselves. They often do so by behaving outrageously.