The Truman Show and the Matrix – What the Truman Show Got Wrong

The Truman Show, released slightly before the Matrix, discussed many of the same themes. In both of those stories, the characters are made to live in worlds that are completely created by others, with each detail of their lives carefully choreographed and constructed. In both stories, the main characters discover that the world they are living in is a construction, and leave their artificial worlds.
Both use this same metaphor to make an important philosophical claim: our lives, as we know them, are largely constructed by others. So long as we live according to that Free Modern House Plans, we can never be considered free. Of course, most of us aren’t being filmed or fed on by robots, but that doesn’t mean that the rules of the game haven’t been written by other people. From our societies to our language, all of those things shape the way we think
However, the stories diverge at an important point. Neo, the lead character in the Matrix doesn’t actually figure out that he is living in an artificial world. Instead, he is basically tricked into seeing the artificial world for what it is, being offered the truth in the form of a red pill. Until then he (and we in the audience, if we hadn’t had it spoiled for us) basically believes that the world he is living in is the real thing, and is surprised as we are when he figures it out.
Truman, on the other hand, figures out that his world is artificial, largely by himself. After seeing some incongruous behavior by his friends and family, he become suspicious and pieces more Remodeling A House Where To Start and more of what is happening together until he decides to escape from the world that he has determined to be unreal. Once he does this, he meets the show’s creator and the show is over.
The thing that the Truman Show gets wrong is that no one can escape from their constructed worlds by themselves. We have a phenomenal power of rationalization that would find ways to explain away other people’s strange behavior. True, we might be suspicious, but, “My life is a television show and all of my friends are in on it,” would never enter our minds (unless we were mentally ill). Truman’s entire process of discovery is simply implausible from a psychological perspective. Instead, having lived an entire life on that television show, he would find a way to account for his friend’s behavior.
Now, you might be thinking, “Wait, people escape from their socially constructed worldviews all the time!”, to which I would respond, “Where do we think we got our concepts of ‘construction’ and ‘reality’ from?”