Somerset Times

Donald Trump, The Truman Show and the Class of 2016




Somerset Times Edition

Week 7,
Term Four, 2016

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Last week, most of the world was invested, frustrated, hurt and passionate about the US Elections and Donald Trump’s presidency. Amongst this negativity and fear, the comments sections on social media of many people voicing these thoughts have been criticised for doing so.

So who’s in the right? Well, that’s a difficult question, depending on a case by case basis. But what is extremely uplifting is the lack of complacency of these vocal commenters. Yes, it may be negative, but it is exactly what the world needs. To most easily demonstrate why, let us go back in time and look through the widely-regarded film, The Truman Show.

Kenta Arichi and Catherine Gerrard, Academic Captains, with Dr Michael Brohier, Deputy Headmaster

The Truman Show is a fantastic film which teaches us a lot about politics. Throughout Truman’s life in the show, we see that whenever he gets a glimpse into the truth that he’s not living in a real world, that it is accompanied by sadness, trauma and pain. An example of this can be found when he comes across someone who he believes is his supposedly-deceased father in the streets. Or has the love of his life taken away from him. The magnitude of this pain is something we can all sympathise with as viewers, and it is possibly why we see only what we want to see in our world. It’s possible to see The Truman Show to be an allegory for our modern society in which ruptures of the ‘ordered’ world we live in give us insight into this pain. The most recent example being Donald Trump’s rise to presidency and Brexit. From this perspective, Truman is the embodiment of the modern man who has lived in the world for long enough to start to see that the systems of the world are ridiculous. Perhaps society is, like Truman was, trying to wake itself up and stumbling in the pain of realising the truth.

In the movie, it is revealed Christof is the mastermind of Truman’s world, the one making the decisions on what happens to him. Despite his god-like powers over Truman’s world, the success of his show always lies on Truman and if he believe in the world he lives in. Christof quite poignantly says “He can leave at any time. If he was absolutely determined to discover the truth there is no way we can prevent him”. Just as the powerful people of the world (like the presidents, CEOs) exert a lot of control over our world, it is ultimately us, like Truman, that hold ourselves in place. We can choose to be complacent. On Truman’s journey to break free of his world, it’s clear there are so many struggles. Much like in our own lives, we need to be willing to endure this pain. Interestingly, the concept of liberation in many cultures is a blue sky with light breaking through the clouds. However, this motif is flipped in Truman’s escape, where the world’s border is just a blue sky, and the door to the outside world is just the dark abyss. Nothing is glorious about it. It accurately reflects the harsh reality that reality is always flawed. The authenticity is what makes this scene particularly beautiful, rather than the idealism or negatively that usually shrouds the truth.

One of the characteristics of the Class of 2016 that has particularly struck me, and perhaps a few of the teachers, is our willingness to stand up in what we believe in. It is through complacency that we end up in a less-than-ideal world, but I believe we have been taught never to settle for anything less than perfect. We have proven our hard-working nature throughout the year, and this is reflected in our excellent results. This is an incredibly useful skill to have learnt during our time at Somerset, and I think our good teaching has made us well prepared for whatever is in store for us next year. We are also willing to stand up for what we believe in, for us to get the best possible outcome from every situation. Whether it be the smallest thing, like getting a drinking fountain in the Year 12 Common Room, or the wonderful people who have endeavoured to make a difference in the wider community, the Year 12 cohort is definitely not content with anything less than the best. Complacency only leads to more of the status quo, but it is important to break free from the norm for change to take place. There is no doubt, with the existence of social media, the world may start to change quite dramatically. But no matter what, the Class of 2016 will always stand for what they believe in and fight for what they believe is right. Only by investing interest for the good of the world is this possible and the Class of 2016 is in no shortage of this passion.

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