****/**** Image A Sound A Extras B+
starring Jim Carrey, Laura Linney, Noah Emmerich, Ed Harris
written by Andrew Niccol
directed by Peter Weir
by Walter Chaw The Truman Show appeared during a period when we were taking a hard look at how quickly and thoroughly we had given our lives over to technology, bracing for the Y2K bug to drop airplanes out of the sky and launch nuclear arsenals. The cruel irony of successfully averting disaster is that the morning after, having learned nothing, we redoubled our efforts to sell ourselves to our things. Introspection is like a nightmare upon waking: If it doesn't disappear on its own, you do your best to wave it away. Orwell's 1984 didn't predict how we pay subscriptions for the right to be surveilled constantly, every detail of our lives documented surreptitiously for corporate information harvesters and publicly through social media, where we manufacture the best versions of ourselves to entertain, and shame, others. We line up around city blocks for the right to plant the world's most sophisticated tracking devices on ourselves; there is a fundamental, exploitable flaw in our programming. We overestimated the extent to which we desired anonymity, underestimated our longing to matter and our vulnerability to flattery. Our will to power through influence, evolutionarily favoured, is the suicide pill encoded into our hardware. In our pursuit of a self to proliferate, technology allowed us to redraft our image and curate our environments. The films at the end of the millennium--Pleasantville, Dark City, The Matrix, and The Thirteenth Floor, to name a few--are warnings about what happens when we project our subjectivity upon the world. Perhaps none cautioned more definitively than Spike Jonze and Charlie Kaufman's Being John Malkovich, which has the balls to literalize the horror of living among undifferentiated versions of the self in a simulation of the outside that is merely an interpretation of an eternity of insides.