The Truman Show Film Analysis: Kantianism

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The movie that I chose to analyze was The Truman Show. A good ethical theory that helps to better analyze the moral significance of this film is Kantianism. Throughout the film, it’s apparent that something just seems a little bit off. This utopian society that is portrayed is supposed to be Truman’s everyday life, everyone knows him and he quite literally lives the American dream with a white picket fence and all. Little does he know that it’s all fake, it’s just a giant production that has been going on since the day he was born. Every single moment of his life was staged and then broadcasted to millions of people who are apparently ok with a person being lied to there whole life and put in a fantasy utopia for the publics viewing pleasure, which hardly seems ethical.

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Nearly every aspect of Truman’s life has been planned out by the show’s writers and directors. Everything from his job, family, friends, to the weather. Every single day is staged and has nearly the same routine. The creator of this show Christof adopted Truman when he was a baby and then extorted him for production purposes with him never having a say in any of it. Christof came to believe that he was helping not only millions of people with this show he believed that Truman was better off because of it. The ‘ignorance is bliss’ mentality was pushed onto Truman and the result of this is that from birth Truman was never given freedom of choice. With the option to choose denied from him, it violates the principles of Kantianism because Truman is just being used as a means to the end of making this hypocritical “entertaining” television and is not treated as an end himself.

Another concern from watching this film is that they are violating Kantian ethics again because of withholding information. On the Island where Truman lives: Seahaven, everyone but Truman knows what is actually going on. They believe that their work of the show is honest and just and they are living their life properly while Truman has no idea that he isn’t. Despite everyone knowing this to be true none of them ever reveal the truth to Truman with the exception of “Lauren” a girl who Truman liked. Since his life has already been predetermined for him and he was supposed to fall in love with another girl the writers they took her away because she was trying to tell Truman that this is all fake and he needed to find a way out. 

By knowingly omitting this crucial truth the actors fail to treat him as a rational being which again violates the categorical imperative of Kantianism. Looking at this film through a Kantian approach has also got to make you think that Kant says under the categorical imperative something has to become universal law for everyone if in a loose sense you believe it to be the right thing to do in a situation. That would mean that if all of these people are ok with ethically lying to a person about his life and filming it without his knowledge and basically hiding the natural world from him then the same should be done to them, and I don’t think any of the creators or actors would want that so what makes it ok to do to him.

All in all, I think this whole movie had some very ethically significant moments the fact that basically, the whole world would watch Truman 24/7 on their tv but not question a single thing. No one ever thought like maybe this is not the right thing to do to a person, literally finding entertainment in a person who has no idea who they are, and that their life is a sham. Their “mom” isn’t really their mom and god forbid the terrifying boat accident that Truman had when he was a kid where his supposed “father” died was all fake. That whole traumatic event was staged and now a real human being who was taken advantage of and used for other people’s gain has PTSD from something that didn’t need to happen to them in the first place.  

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