The Truman Show is a satirical comedy-drama that highlights the life of Truman Burbank. In the movie, Truman is unaware that his entire life is being chronicled in a constructed reality television show. Christof stays behind the reality television show and aims at capturing every step made by Truman every hour and every day of the week and broadcasting it to millions of viewers around the globe. Later on in the movie, Truman becomes suspicious of the perceived reality behind his life and embarks on a mission to find out the truth. Meryl, Truman’s wife, becomes increasingly stressed as their marriage experiences several problems. Toward the end of the show, Truman becomes isolated as Meryl leaves him and he cheats the cameras before finding the way to escape from his hometown of Seahaven. It is significant to note that this movie can be effectively criticized using the book Experience and Education that provides a clear analysis of education and the education setting. In the book, Dewey reiterates the view that quality education is vital in the social and interactive processes of learning among individuals. In the show, it can also be noted that Meryl, Truman’s wife, and other individuals in the novel resemble the status quo of traditional education because of the manner in which Truman makes personal decisions that would facilitate the understanding of his world.
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This paper provides a critique of The Truman Show in line with the assertions made by Dewey in the book Experience and Education.
In relation to social control, Dewey emphasizes the view that teachers in a traditional classroom social setting are always more concerned with keeping order in these settings. This implies that teachers in the traditional setting had a dominant role of making every decision. On the other hand, Dewey noted that, in the progressive education social settings, students always have the opportunity to enforce social conventions as they feel part of the community. This means that students in the progressive classroom social setting have more opportunities to participate in the making of decisions as they are accommodated in the community. It is significant to note that Truman fits into some of the ideas asserted by Dewey concerning social control. Truman fits into the ideas of social control over the ability to make personal decisions without being swayed by the influence of other people. Allon, Cullen, & Patterson (2002) affirm that Truman does the unexpected by falling in love with Sylvia, instead of Meryl, who had been intended to be his wife in the movie. He decides to make his personal decision relating to his social life despite the control by Christof, who was focused on highlighting his life in the reality show every day. Additionally, he is also open to make his personal decision to move away from Seahaven despite the obstacles and controls put in place by Christof. He cheats the cameras and finds an easier way to escape using the waterways that Christof had highlighted as being dangerous to any individual attempting to use water as a means of transport. Overall, Truman fits into the ideas of social control asserted by Dewey in the manner he decides to make some personal decisions about his life without bending to the influence imposed by Christof. He tries to make decisions that he believes would be best for his life despite the high level of social control emanating from Christof, who was more focused on broadcasting Truman’s life on a television reality show.
Dewey also emphasizes that the desire to learn is determined by the progress of students to different levels of study. Individuals exhibit different characteristics and their desire to learn would be determined by their experiences in their daily lives. According to Dewey, the desire to learn is a personal initiative and is always motivated by the experiences and background of the individual. The desire to learn cannot be easily interfered with because of its internal existence and emergence among students. Therefore, a genuine desire to learn would entail measures against the future expected consequences of the learning process. Dewey also affirms the view that the desire to learn is formed from the observation of past events in the life of an individual, observation of objectives, and the judgment of the observation to determine the significance. Truman fits into the ideas of the desire to learn as he seeks to make a true discovery about his life. He is not happy about the perfect nature of life that he is living and wants to find out the truth. His zeal over finding out the truth about his life indicates his internal desire to learn. Booker (2007) confirms that Truman has an enormous desire for learning the true nature of the world, as he is not comfortable with the happy life that is characterized with tidiness each moment he lives on the Island of Seahaven. The desire to make new discoveries about the world gives him more courage and he is able to brave the waters that had been considered dangerous for use even as a means of transport. In his bid to escape, he overcomes the challenges put in place by Christof, who wanted to maintain control over him. In line with Dewey’s ideas on the purpose of life, it can be noted that Truman fits into these ideas by the show of his indomitable will to make a discovery about his life and learn the true nature of the world. The desire to learn which pushes an individual to the ultimate goal soon becomes resistant to change.
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Concerning the meaning of purpose, Dewey opines that students would only avert mental slavery in cases where they develop a sense of purpose in their learning. According to Dewey (2007), mental slavery can be observed in cases where an individual executes a particular purpose for another person. This means that a person would be mentally enslaved in cases where he performs particular actions with the aim of impressing other people and not deriving self-satisfaction. He also affirms that a genuine purpose consists of impulses and desires that are measured against the measured consequences. Therefore, educators have the duty of driving students toward realizing the sense of purpose in their lives. Purpose among individuals is also formed by taking a keen observation of their live and any other consequences of resorting to that purpose. Again, Truman fits effectively into Dewey’s ideas on the meaning of purpose. Notably, Truman had a clear purpose in his life and did not realize that it was being monitored by Christof. He had his personal purposes that he pursued without the feeling that he was trying to impress anybody within his setting. For instance, he was purposed at loving Sylvia instead of impressing Christof by falling in love with Meryl, who was his intended wife. Truman relates to the ideas concerning the meaning of purpose as he lives a free life as far he is concerned and he is not focused on impressing any particular person around him. Klemens (2007) reiterates that his purpose can be seen from his tricks and the ultimate escape from Seahaven, where his life was being monitored without his knowledge. He is purposed at finding a new life that indicates normal living in a normal world, where events occur naturally, instead of being imposed upon him. He upholds his purpose to move away from Seahaven by sticking to his journey despite the storms that had been brought about by Christof to kill him in case he persisted with the journey. Therefore, Truman is effective in bringing out the true meaning of purpose, as asserted by Dewey in his book.
Meryl, who was Truman’s wife, and other people in the movie resemble the status quo learning of teachers and gatekeepers in the traditional setting of learning. Dewey emphasizes that, in the traditional setting of learning, teachers set most of the conventions and do not take into consideration experiential learning among students. This is similar to the actions exhibited by Meryl and other friends of Truman, such as Marlon. They maintain the status quo of learning as they easily take instructions from Christof and try to prevent Truman from making decisions that matter to his life. They act as inhibitory agents in Truman’s desire to find out the truth about his life by restricting him to measures that would not allow him make a key decision in driving his life to the positive direction. They maintain the status quo of teachers and gatekeepers in the traditional setting of learning by trying to pass across false reassurances to Truman. Niccol (2001) opines that Meryl and others in the show have the tendency of doing the same things and appearing at the same places in the show, hence indicating their promotion of their status quo and overall lack of progress on their side. They understood everything that was taking place in the life of Truman, but they were enslaved by Christof and not willing to make the required changes to save Truman from the continued focus on the reality show. Notably, they maintain the status quo of the traditional settings of learning by ensuring that Christof continues preventing Truman from leaving the Island of Seahaven. They stick to the traditional systems of operation, where they try to prevent Truman from achieving his purpose of discovering the truth about his life.
Truman’s wife and others also resemble the status quo of social control as they allow Truman’s overall life to be controlled by Christof. They have adequate knowledge of the entire happenings, but they do not take effective care to ensure that he is saved from the control that he was subjected to. Christof is in charge of every aspect of Truman’s life and does not allow him to make decisions that are supposed to drive his life. Klemens (2003) affirms that Christof imposes Meryl upon Truman upon his will, hence indicating the view that she resembles the status quo of social control. Meryl and others resemble the status quo of social control because they do not allow Truman to make his personal decision of loving Sylvia according to his will. Additionally, Meryl and others resemble the status quo of social control, as they do not allow Truman to make his personal decision of moving from Seahaven to a more open place, where he can learn the world and make his personal decisions. According to Pope (2004), they try to prevent his departure from Seahaven, where his life was being monitored, by reassuring him that all is well and that he is living a normal life. Thus, they do not allow Truman to make decisions that matter to him as an individual, but keep inhibiting his decision-making process that would take him to a better understanding of the world in which he was living. Therefore, Meryl and other individuals, such as Marlon, resemble status quo to social control in the manner they do not allow him to make personal decisions that would help determine the understanding of his life.
In conclusion, The Truman Show highlights the life of Truman from his birth capturing all the activities that he participated in every time. The show reiterates the view that Truman does not have effective control over his life as he is continuously monitored by Christof, who keeps monitoring most of his actions. Dewey’s book Experience and Education can be used to critique the different aspects relating to Truman and other characters in the show. The book provides a clear and in-depth analysis of education and the overall education setting. Dewey reiterates the view that teachers in the traditional setting exhibited full social control of their students, as they could not allow them to make decisions that matter to their lives. Progressive educational institutions allow students to make decision that concern their lives. Truman relates to ideas of social control in the manner he tries to make his personal decisions that ensure that he accomplishes his missions in life as he deems fit. For instance, he decides to fall in love with Sylvia instead of Meryl who was being forced upon him by Christof. Meryl and others in the story also resemble the status quo of traditional education because of their role of preventing Truman from making decisions that matter to his life.