This brilliant and symbolic film focuses on the dehumanizing violations of privacy that are a hallmark of our era. The movie addresses this human rights issue through the allegory of a corporation that adopts a human being in order to exploit every aspect of his personal life for profit. In addition to recording, collecting and selling the hero’s personal information, the corporation also invisibly manipulates him in order to maximize their revenue. In successfully commercializing a human life, they cash in on the value of every aspect of Truman’s private life while robbing him of his dignity and right to develop as a human person. Some dismiss the film’s prescient warning about the systemic collection and commercialization of personal information in the era of Big Data. Such critics regard the hero’s total and involuntary loss of privacy as a far-fetched fiction. But the ubiquitous cameras of the Truman Show are an accurate symbolic representation of the expanding array of internet connected devices that increasingly transmit vast amounts of our private data. There may not be cameras everywhere in our world – but that is only because these other devices do an even better job of capturing the data that defines our personality. The companies that harvest our personal data allegedly do so with our consent. But one of the Big Lies of the Digital Age is the deceptive oxymoron of “Privacy Policies” – contracts of adhesion that create a fiction of consent as cover for a business paradigm driven by an insatiable corporate appetite for personal data. In theory, citizens in free societies can protect their privacy by opting out. But such a step is increasingly becoming as extreme as the choice Truman must make at the end of this film. In a sense, it is simply not possible to opt-out of corporate surveillance, data collection, and the manipulation of our lives at the hands of Big Data while still remaining a participant in a modern economy and society. In this respect, we are all increasingly living in the Truman Show. The Truman Show stars Jim Carrey, Laura Linney, Noah Emmerich, Holland Taylor, Ed Harris and Natascha McElhone.
This original movie review was created by students at academic institutions affiliated with the Human Rights Network (HRN). All HRN content has been created for educational purposes within applicable fair use guidelines in order to spread respect for the universal human rights principles enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (United Nations 1948).
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