Thursday, February 27, 2014

The Truman Show

Taking a slightly different approach to this blog post I decided to analyze the movie The Truman Show. The writers of the the movie The Truman Show consistently satirize the use of the persuasive element through product placement and how Truman is persuaded. Truman has no idea that he is living inside a television studio, surrounded by actors paid to make his life seem normal. Nor does he know that some 5,000 cameras have been placed around the city in order to record his life for the TV audience, 24 hours a day. Since the television program that is his life plays nonstop, without commercial interruption that a normal program has timed breaks for, it has to makes money through product placement. Advertisements are not-so-seamlessly woven into dialogue and scenes throughout the film, turning Truman's life into an almost continuous commercial, without interrupting the source of entertainment.

For example, when Truman drinks his favorite beverage, he is actually doing a strange kind of celebrity endorsement. The actors who surround him know it is all a “commercial”, and in the middle of conversations with him will begin to describe the wonders of the very product he is using. This can be an example of ethos, something that the writers of the movie The Truman Show are satirizing, if Truman is enjoying said product than you, a viewer, will too! Truman thinks they are just being enthusiastic, the actors even going so far as to push him up against a billboard in order for the camera to focus on a product placed behind him. Once again the writers satirize the persuasive elements using product placement, specifically pathos; Truman is constantly persuaded by the townspeople, actors, to try or enjoy a product that he might not have otherwise bought into. He has no idea that they are talking to a TV audience; similarly that we may not realize that products are constantly being placed in our everyday lives.

Though the movie does not benefit any real product because none are actually incorporated into the film, The Truman Show's depiction of the way product placement is woven into Truman's life is an effective satire on the commercialization of our own lives. Today, entertainment is everything and advertisers are taking advantage of this, incorporating products constantly and seamlessly into our everyday lives, specifically through the use of product placement. As scary as this is there are some that feel there are ways to combat this and as mentioned in one of our readings Cohen suggests that, “By disclosing paid placements at the beginning, the theater-goer can erect the same psychological defenses against paid advertising as a television viewer.  They suggest the announcement would reduce the effectiveness of product placements, because their attraction to an advertiser is the product's seemingly realistic use by the stars and in appealing situations”.  I would give this film 4/5 slurpees for the writers creative use of satire and the overall entertainment value.

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