Sunday, February 10, 2008

Foucault and "Truman Show"

Foucault’s “Panopticism” is a meticulous piece that speaks of how a panoptic system would influence culture, society, the political, and the individual. As Roger noted, it is hard to have Foucault’s piece not influence a viewer of “The Truman Show”. Panopticism appears to be a system that is almost too good to be true. It is very imperial, as a few men (possibly only one) can stand in an erect tower and observe the confined individual. It almost seems as if too much power is granted, as his gaze holds the rest of the confined.

“The Truman Show” helps show what happens to the individual in the panoptic model. After being under constant watch, it seems as if the individual must attempt to escape in order to establish any sort of freedom. Truman does not know exactly what he is running from, because the man in the tower is always hidden from view (in this case, Christof is in the sky and is not visible by Truman). The film also shows how controlling the tower can be. No matter how Truman tries to flee, there is always something waiting for him. This ends when Truman attempts to escape by sea. Christof can see Truman trying to leave the doom, and he will do whatever he can to stop him. In this case, the power in Foucault’s “Panopticism” shows that is corruptible, and thus, extremely tarnished. So much power is given over an individual, that it comes to a point where Christof is not worried about killing Truman in front of a live audience (NETWORK EXEC: For God's sake, Chris! The whole world is watching. We can't let him die in front of a live audience! CHRISTOF: He was born in front of a live audience).

The only matter that Foucault does not discuss in enough detail is the concept of the individual’s sanity. He leaves it open in the end for the readers to decide for themselves (“Is it surprising that prisons resemble factories, schools, barracks, hospitals, which all resemble prisons?”). The question is almost answered watching “The Truman Show”, as Truman’s tries to flee the dome. These scenes show a desperate nature of Truman, as he tries to escape the watchful eye he does not recognize or understand.

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