Welcome to the Modernist Truman Show
From John Wayne and the western motif to William Shatner and the science fiction motif, Hollywood has been obsessed with the notion of frontier, taking this notion from an American ideology that encourages men to forge ahead into the unknown. Often, though, it seems these men are more running away from society than really running to the unknown. And in The Truman Show, that is what Truman is truly doing- running to the unknown in order to escape the responsibilities of his current life. Thus The Truman Show, which looks to be a hip postmodern film about subjectivity, is actually a modernist film tying into the frontier metanarrative in which society represents a binding world, and the frontier embodies the male escapist fantasy of no responsibility.
In The Truman Show, two worlds exist: the controlled society that exists in a giant bubble, and the unpredictable "outside world" that Truman only finds out about at the end of the film. Essentially, these two worlds of the film are respectively synonymous with 'real' society and the frontier. And while society does contain the comforts that make life 'easier', it also contains the chains that tie down. Thus while Truman is completely safe and comfortable in his society, he also is constricted, and never really allowed to live-or so he believes.
The allure of the frontier is great for Truman, as he has numerous things that he wants to escape from. At first glance his life appears to be wonderful. He lives in the suburbs, has a garden and a white picket fence, and is safe from all harm. Subsequently, however, he also has a substantial mortgage that keeps him at his job as an insurance salesman, and away from the world travels for which he so desperately longs. He sees the same people, and says the same things, every day of his life. He has an overbearing mother who constantly showers guilt on...