The Battle Over Citizen Kane and the Emergence of Yellow Journalism

The Battle Over Citizen Kane (1996)
Michael Epstein
Thomas Lennon
David McCullough (host)
Orson Welles (archive)
William Randolph Hearst(archive)
Richard Ben Cramer(narration)

By Rebecca Doser and Yoshifumi Kobayashi

the battle over citizen kane
Fig.1: “The Battle Over Citizen Kane” aired on the Public Broadcast System in 1996.

The Battle Over Citizen Kane (Fig. 1) is a documentary that was broadcasted  by the Public Broadcast System as one of the episodes of the American Experience Series on January 29, 1996. It is about the clash between American newspaper publisher William Randolph Hearst and actor, writer, and director Orson Welles in regards to Welles’ 1941 motion picture Citizen Kane

Fig. 2: William Randolph Heart owned The New York Journal.

Orson Welles based his movie Citizen Kane on the career of William Randolph Hearst (Fig. 2), who built the nation’s largest newspaper chain and influenced American journalism greatly. Hearst was a “God in the newspaper business” according to the documentary. He was born in 1863 and died in 1951. One in five Americans was reading a Hearst newspaper a week, according to the documentary. His great power came from all the media outlets he controlled. According to the documentary, the movies were more powerful than the newspaper ever could be, but no one understood this back then. Hearst was determined to make art and the written word the property of the masses. This segment of the documentary is important when comparing how different Hearst’s mindset was in using newspapers to attract the masses where as nowadays, films and television socially construct peoples’ perception of reality as seen in Fahrenheit 451, much more than the written word does.

Hearst first took hold of The San Francisco Examiner when he was very close to flunking out of Harvard. Then he took hold of The New York Journal and Joseph Pulitzer‘s New York World, which led to the creation of yellow journalism, early 20th-century journalism highlighting sensational sex, crime and disaster news (Baran, 2015 p. 77). He created the largest newspaper and magazine business in the world but the competition between Heart’s Good Morning Journal and Pulitzer’s World was so intense that it devalued journalism and caused much skepticism especially when yellow journalism got out of hand.

Hearst exerted significant political opinion and constantly pushed his opinion during the period known as “Yellow Journalism” (1895-1898). He once hired a woman to collapse in the streets just to see how the community responded,  and further, so he could publish an article on how people treated indigent women in society, according to the documentary. Douglass Fairbanks Jr. says that Hearst once said,”You can crush a man with journalism and you can’t with motion pictures.” Hearst took yellow journalism to a whole new level with large headlines, big front-page pictures, extensive use of photos and illustrations and cartoons (Baran, 2015, p. 77). For example, many historians believe that the sinking of the Maine was engineered by Hearst in order to create a war that his papers could cover and build as much circulation as possible (Baran, 2015, p.77). The newspaper wars of this era were thus very sensationalized and exaggerated.

Fig. 3: Hearst’s front page depicting the destruction of the war ship Maine.

Take for example, the Spanish-American War of 1898. The terrible conditions in Cuba were dramatized for the sake of journalism. The most well-known story was that of Frederic Remington, a Canton, NY native, who telegraphed Hearst to tell him that Cuba was fairly quiet and that “there would be no war.” Hearst responded, “Please remain. You furnish the pictures and I’ll furnish the war.” The conditions in Cuba was bad enough, but when the war started, Hearst basically took credit for the war itself when he ran a headline reading, “How do you like the Journal’s war?” on his front page. This drastic nature of yellow journalism was mainly in NYC. For example, in the Journal, Hearst focused on the enemy who set the bomb and he even offered a huge reward to readers (Fig.3).

Hearst played the role of a  public preacher by publishing political hype and opinions in his own publications. He succeeded in establishing the first nationwide newspaper chain in America, from L.A. to Chicago, by purchasing more and more newspapers. People were able to see his headlines everywhere, which allowed him to “dictate public opinion all across the country.” The narrator of the documentary, Richard Ben Cramer, interpreted this phenomenon saying, “It was a soapbox of a size no candidate had ever enjoyed.” Hearst, the most renowned owner of American newspapers at that time, was manipulating his readers. He elevated himself to make political statements that he deemed as newsworthy and attractive to the masses by enacting the harsh, sensationalized platform of yellow journalism. He stood atop his “soapbox,” which allowed him to transform newspapers in a way in which he directly effected the emotions and perceptions of reality of those who invested in his newspaper.

story-telling of war of the worlds
Fig. 4: Orson Welles telling the story of War of The Worlds on the CBS radio network.

While yellow journalism  was utilized to emphasize attracting readers’ attention, Orson Welles attempted to use the CBS radio network as a platform to tell an extremely terrifying  story, War of The Worlds, in real time (Fig.4). This daring and reckless decision caused a serious panic among the listeners in the United States because they believed the story was happening at that very moment. This event proved how “average” people were defenselessly influenced by the products that these mediums yield, which is known as the mass society theory and  hypodermic needle theory (Baran, 2015, p. 325). At the same time, this panic produced by Welles through the radio medium suggested a decline in the power of the mass society theory (Baran, 2015, p. 325), since there were people who had not taken any action after listening to the radio five times more than those who believed it. Therefore, this consequence showed the development of the limited effects theory, which used to be the hypothesis emerging that “media influence was limited by individual differences, social categories, and personal relationship” (Baran, 2015, p. 326).

As for the battle over Citizen Kane, Hearst seemed to beat out Welles since eventually, Welles needed to close his company due to its bad reputation intensified by Hearst’s obstruction. However, Hearst’s attack to seize the movie, Citizen Kane, by writing poorly about the movie in his newspapers would possibly be the greatest advertising of the movie ever, as his newspapers were read by countless people. Hence, some individuals may assume that his obstruction actually helped the movie and allowed Welles to be nominated nine Academy Awards in total.

Does yellow journalism still exist today? The answer is easy: 100 percent yes. Many newspapers display the most exaggerated picture on the front page to attract people and make them buy it, no mater how skewed the truth may be. There are even magazines that only deliver gossip, which is often exaggerated significantly by editors in order to actually persuade people to pick up the magazine in the store or click on the article headline on the internet. Also, due to the development of new technology and personalization, Youtube has become one of the largest platforms to portray exaggerated events, such as Hollywood gossip (Fig. 5) uploaded by so-called Youtubers. Now, yellow journalism is even easier to provide and create because of technological developments and it is clearly an element in today’s society that attracts many individuals of our current generation.

Fig. 5: An example of yellow journalism today.

Baran, Stanley J. “Chapter 4.” Introduction to Mass Communication: Media Literacy and Culture. Boston: McGraw Hill, 2015. Print

Censorship in Fahrenheit 451 and The Name of the Rose

By Yoshifumi Kobayashi and Rebecca Doser

Farenheit 451 (1966)
Director: François Truffaut
Oskar Werner
Julie Christie
Cyril Cusack

Fig. 1: Fahrenheit 451 is based off of the 1953 novel by Ray Bradbury and takes place in a society with a futuristic totalitarian government

Farenheit 451 (Fig.1) is a Dystopian science fiction film based on the 1953 novel by Ray Bradbury. This film is set in a significantly controlled society in which a fireman, Guy Montag, who burns all literature, becomes a fugitive for reading. The film was nominated for the Golden Lion at the 1966 Venice Film Festival.

The main point of this movie is to portray a society that is controlled by not only the media, but censorship, the limiting of publication of or access to a book (Baran, 2015, p. 53).  Television and film have shaped perceptions of reality, similar to The Truman Show. Montag burns all the books, which are seen as evil because they are “repositories of ideas, ideas that can be read and considered with limited outside influence or official supervision” (Baran, 2015, p. 55).

Montag says to Clarisse at the beginning that “books disturb people… they make them antisocial.”

Fig. 2: The women in society are so wrapped up in the ideals relayed through television that the portrayals of beauty and lifestyle all become their perceived reality.

Society in this movie is completely engulfed in television programs and mirroring what they see on the screen such as elements of perceived “beauty” in the way the women dress, do their hair and makeup and act. (Fig. 2). The world is completely idealized in that no one actually talks about important things anymore but rather the majority of society is aliterate, wherein people posse the ability to read but are unwilling to do so, hence a type of self-censorship (Baran, 2015, p.55).

Russian immigrant and writer Joseph Brodsky‘s explanation during his Noble Prize for Literature clearly ties to this movie significantly: “Since there are no laws that can protect us from ourselves, no criminal code is capable of preventing a true crime against literature; though we can condemn the material suppression of literature – the persecution of writers, acts of censorship, the burning of books – we are powerless when it comes to its worst violation: that of not reading the books. For that crime, a person pays with his whole life; if the offender is a nation, it pays with its history” (Baran, 2015, p.55).

This quote is significant when analyzing the scene in which Montag says to his wife and her friends, ““You’re nothing but zombies, all of you… You’re not living, you’re just killing time!” He starts reading to them, which not only scares them but makes one of the women start to cry from them emotional strength of words that flood the pages of books. Millie is livid with him and says, “All those words, idiotic words, evil words that hurt people….isn’t there enough trouble as it is? Why disturb people with that sort of filth?” These women live in such a distorted world of ideals and censorship that they have allowed the government to take full control and demand of their mindsets, values and viewpoints. They depend on screen media to the highest degree, mirror their ideas of beauty and habits by what they see in the media, similar to today in that individuals seek out similar images of popular celebrities and mirror the way they dress, act, and live according to the mediums they favor (magazine, celebrity shows, or films).

Regardless of the fact that all books are burned in the movie, some individuals still remain willing to sacrifice everything they have to ensure that books, which carry out necessary elements of knowledge and morals over filtered screen play, remain alive. Montag becomes one of these individuals to question his social position when he talks to Clarisse about beauty, nature and love, watches a woman die with her books, and witnesses his wife suffer in the depths of television and grow into someone he does not even know anymore. Ultimately, Montag desires more knowledge, education and intellect thus he contacts Professor Faber who helps him on his way to redeeming his personal humanity.

The Name of the Rose(1986)
Director: Jean-Jacques Annaud
Sean Connery
F. Murry Abraham
Christian Slater

The-Name-of-the-Rose-1986Umberto Eco
Fig.1: The Name of The Rose is based on the book written by Unberto Eco

The core of The Name of the Rose (Fig. 1) is a simple mystery of a murder case that occurred in ancient Northern Italy. One day, a young monk died mysteriously and the murderer continued after William, who was Franciscan friar and known for his wisdom as well as Adso, his apprentice, who visited the monastery. They are convinced to help them solve the horrible event, and consequently, they figured out a secret book that killed people and is the reason of murder. This movie refers to many historical individuals and events, yet, more importantly to our class, to the role of books before technology, as a forbidden book is the key to solve the murders.

First, since it was the age before the printer appeared, there was still an old-fashioned way of producing books in the monastery. People who worked there were the illuminators, translators, librarians and so forth. They copied the original books to pass down to the next generation in order to contain all the significant information.  All victims were the workers of the library system and therefore had access to read the banned books in this film.

Fig. 2: He is mad at the monks who are laughing him

Then, why was the book put under strict censorship? You can find the answer in the scene in which William and Adso visit the library in the monastery to see what they do, since the first victim was a famous illuminator.  In this scene, when the blind librarian enters the room as working monks are laughing, he scolds them and says, “A monk should not laugh. Only the fool lifts up his voice in laughter” in Latin (Fig.2). The librarian strongly believes that laughter is a sin and Christ  never laughed. The truth is that the hidden book is funny thus it can trigger laughter to its readers, which the librarian, the culprit, believes is sinful. William, however, argued that, “A laughter is particular to man.” For that, the librarian, hid the book so secretly that no one could commit an act of betrayal to their God.

What was he actually afraid of though and what made him perform in that way? It is probably the belief that people would get revolutionary ideas by reading such books because books have the “influence as cultural repositories and agents of social change” (Baran, 2015, p. 53). Books can give a change within the people, readers, socially and culturally (Baran, 2015, p. 52) especially when they are more intrapersonal resources. They develop the reader’s mind, whether or not it is good, without the help (or influence) of outsiders (Baran, 2015, p. 53). Books simply work readers’ minds and increase knowledge, which is why some people, like William, love reading.

Fig.3: William is excited by all these books he found in the library

William was so excited when he found out that he was able to get into the library that he was denied access to before:  “I knew it!” he shouted, getting excited that he was in the greatest library in Christendom (Fig.3). His apprentice, Adso, even asked his master if he even cared more about humans than books because the master seemed to be engulfed solely in his readings. This trend indicates how strong the power of books is. This type of power is sometimes considered a threat to a certain group of people, which in turn, causes this level of censorship to ensue in society. In this movie, a banned book, which relatively brought laughter, was also banned among monks due to their religious beliefs. Surely, this book would bring not only laughter but the new idea that could break their tradition sooner or later.The question that one is truly left with at the end, however, it this: Is it worth banning a book for tradition, or is it worth fighting for “the power of ideas” (Baran, 2015, p.55)?

Baran, Stanley J. “Chapter 3.” Introduction to Mass Communication: Media Literacy and Culture. Boston: McGraw Hill, 2015. 47-69. Print.

Hollywood’s Influence on a Negative Stereotype of Arabs and Middle Easterns

Reel Bad Arabs: How Hollywood Vilifies a People (2006)
Director: Sut Jhally
Star: Jack Shaheen

By Yoshifumi Kobayashi and Rebecca Doser

Fig. 1 This documentary analyzes various Hollywood films and how they specifically vilify Arab and Middle Eastern people

Reel Bad Arabs: How Hollywood Vilifies a People (Fig. 1) is a documentary that is based off of a book written by the movie’s narrator, Jack Shaheen. Both the book and the movie serve to analyze how Hollywood corrupts the image of Arabs in society through discussion of a series of films that create stereotypes of Arabs and Middle Eastern culture. An in-depth analysis of multiple Hollywood films clearly shows how they are portrayed as villains, terrorists and evil individuals.

Shaheen mainly studies hundreds of Hollywood movies, which contain stereotypical images about Arabs that further portray racial prejudice of Arabs, such as True Lies or Father of the Bride 2. Since Hollywood has a history of producing films for lengthy time frames not only in the United States but also worldwide, they do great job as a platform of mass communication, in both appointment consumption and consumption-on-demand sides. He suggests how American (directors) implant the “real” bad Arab images to the audience, who are mainly Americans, through their films. Also, he addresses political influence by introducing the connection between Washington and Hollywood.

The main point of this movie is to not simply just analyze various films vilifying Arabs, but to understand that this type of mass communication, through the means of a documentary, is pointing to a larger problem with Western society. This problem is that various films such as Aladdin and shows such as Family Guy and Modern Family, have the strength and tendency to ingrain skewed images of an entire race or culture. They represent certain people, such as Arabs, not as an individuals of a group of real people but rather as negative images that are portrayed in media to push stereotypes into Americans’ minds.

Fig. 2: The hijackers aboard flight United 93

The largest issue with the stereotypes placed on a certain group of individuals, is when these stereotypical viewpoints are enacted into real life. Shaheen describes Arabs in Hollywood movies as “subhuman” or as “stock villains.” The problem with this is that these “classifications” are being played out in today’s politics. After watching this movie and discussing it further in class, I (Rebecca) decided to watch United 93 last Thursday evening on September 10, 2015. Afterwards, I will admit myself that the damaging images of Arabs as fearless hijackers (Fig. 2) and terrorists taking the lives of innocent Americans as well as their own lives is extremely terrorizing. Many viewers will allow movies such as this to completely construct their viewpoints on the entire culture of those people, while these evil individuals are only part of this group.

How does this play into real world politics and what is the effect that Hollywood’s depiction of Arabs has on today’s politics? First off, it touches on the basic tenets of the Cultivation Theory, which is the idea that television cultivates or constructs a reality of the world that, although possibly inaccurate, becomes the accepted reality simply because we as a culture believe it to be the reality (Baran, 2015, p. G-3). As Americans, we interpret the world “outside” through the lenses of our own culture- it’s norms, values and symbols.  Hollywood’s portrayal of Arabs as villains and harmful individuals pushes Americans to view an entire culture in this unjust limelight. This negative stereotyping is a result of increased globalization, a term used to describe the concentration of media ownership (Baran, 2015, p. 36) because defenders of this concept point to a need to reach a fragmented and widespread audience to encourage such a trend or viewpoint.

epa03615072  A group of Palestinian men, waving the Palestian flag and holding up posters, protest against the closer of the main south-west entrance to Hebron, as Israeli soldiers look on, West Bank,  08 March 2013. The entrance was closed by Israeli troops due to its proximity to the Jewish settlement Beit Hagay.  EPA/ABED AL HASHLAMOUN
Fig.3: A group of Palestinian men, waving the Palestian flag and holding up posters, protest against the closer of the main south-west entrance to Hebron, as Israeli soldiers look on.

In the middle of the movie, The Reel Bad Arabs, Shaheen puts forth a significant question: “If we cannot see Arab humanity, what’s left?” Afterwards, he continues that, “If we feel nothing, if we feel that Arabs are not like us or not like anyone else, then let’s kill them all. They deserve to die” as a sort of interpretation of his own question.  He takes Arab humanity as if it were a last stronghold. Why? It is probably because Arabs are seriously suffering from hunger, refugee, and  thousands of deaths of innocent people in real life (Fig.3), while they are still portrayed as a bad and dangerous group of people in the movies.  As a means of illustration, if we cannot find humanity in people who are truly in need and struggling with living, where can we find? If they are not like us, who are they? Rather, who are we? They are the real people as well as us. If we ignore the humanity of Arabs, who are nothing but human beings, and destroy everything as though it were justice, there is nothing but ciaos as shown in the movie from The Rush Limbaugh Show. Then, if the ciaos is all that is left, where do we turn next?

In America, the term “axis of evil” first emerged in George W. Bush’s State of the Union Address on January 29, 2002. This term in American culture is often repeated throughout many presidencies to describe the Middle Eastern/Arab governments that are accused of terrorism, seeking weapons of mass destruction, and impacting our relations with Iran and Iraq due to their stance as common enemies during the War on Terror. This clearly links current political viewpoints on Arabs with Shaheen’s statement that, “Politics and Hollywood’s images are linked; they reinforce one another. Policy enforces mythical images, mythical images help enforce policy.” The fear we hold against Arabs in watching films such as United 93 construct a reality of the world that all Arabs should be seen through a lens of evil and indoctrination. The strength of the ability of politics and Hollywood to work simultaneous to cultivate this social construction of reality is evident in that America’s leaders continue to use the term “the axis of evil” and show children videos such as Aladdin, which vilify Arabs in every way possible to a young generation who will ultimately guide Americans views in years to come.

The stereotypes of Arabs and Middle Easterners have been shaped and altered by the medium that mainly portrays bad Arab images to the public: Hollywood movies. In contrast, however, here are some examples of movies that contain neutral or positive portrayals of Arabs: A Perfect Murder (1998), Three Kings (1999), Kingdom of Heaven (2005), Syriana (2005), and Hideous Kinky (1998). These movies describe a romance involving an Arab man or employee decent Arab characters in their plots, though some of these neutral/positive films regarding Arab characters still involve fights, weapons, and some suspicious atmospheres. Thus, Shaheen is hopeful that the situation can change and that the negative stereotype of Arabs will be turned around because of some new-aged movie directors.


Baran, Stanley J. “Chapter 1.” Introduction to Mass Communication: Media Literacy and Culture. Boston: McGraw Hill, 2015. 4-27. Print.

Good Morning! Oh, and in Case I Don’t See You…

The Truman Show (1998)
Director: Peter Weir
Stars: Jim Carrey, Ed Harris, Laura Linney

By Yoshifumi Kobayashi and Rebecca Doser

Fig. 1: The Truman Show was a financial success and has been analyzed significantly in regards to Christianity, reality and existentialism.

The Truman Show (Fig. 1)  is a 1998 American drama written by Andrew Niccol and directed by Peter Weir. The plot follows the life of a man named Truman who was unaware that his life has been completely constructed by a producer named Christof in a reality television show for the past 30 years. When skepticism arises, Truman grows suspicious of what he  perceived as “reality” for his entire life and he seeks out his own internal strength to ultimately escape the “media bubble” he lives in.

Fig. 2: Truman’s “media bubble” involves him decoding his neighbors “Good morning” greeting as a habitual and genuine daily routine when little does he know, it is all staged and scripted by the producers of his show

Marshall McLuhan, a Canadian philosopher of communication theory once said, “Does a fish know it’s wet?” upon which he answered, “No” (Baran, 2015, p. 4). This concept is one of the most important elements involved in understanding how individuals, such as Truman, are completely submerged in a “media bubble” and further, how social constructivism shapes values, norms and habits. In The Truman Show, Truman’s daily routine is shaped by the people he sees every morning, the radio show he listens to every day, the completely fixated environment/movie set in which he lives and the hyper-commercialism of which he seems to be unconscious of for his entire life. Media informs us, entertains us, delights us and annoys us (Baran, 2015, p. 4) and the way in which one decodes a message can vary significantly based on how one interprets signs and symbols (Baran, 2015, p. 6). In the movie, Truman interprets his marriage, work environment, social interactions and even his habitual friendly neighborhood greetings (Fig. 2) as normal elements of his daily routine simply because he has never experienced anything out of what he considers “the ordinary.” He has become sucked into the “bubble” created by Christof and it is not until the end of the movie that he physically is able to touch the confinements of his “media bubble” in order to find the courage to leave.

Many characters hold differing views on reality in a general sense throughout the movie. In the dialogue between Christof and Lauren, Christof asks her, “Do you really think you’re in the position to judge him?” However, at the same time, this question could be brought back to Christof himself since he is the one who decides what is right in the world he created for Truman. Lauren claims that Christof is manipulating Truman’ life therefore that world is absolutely fake, whereas Christof throws the question to her, and all the viewers, to perhaps question the reality of their world as well. This conversation brings us to think of our own lives in regards to who really formulates the “media bubbles” that build our habits and norms.

According to the Baran, media literacy is defined as “the ability to effectively and efficiently comprehend and use any form of mediated communication” (Baran, 2015, p. 18). In other words, the author explains that mass communication is a learnable skill and can be practiced. How can this idea of media literacy explain Christof’s claim, “We accept the reality of the world with which we’re presented”?

image credit:
Fig.3: We are surrounded and manipulated by media and hyper commercialism.

We accept the reality constructed by media because we have learned that the mass communication, which exists everywhere (Fig. 3), manipulates us everyday, especially in our generation. Television, radio, newspapers and social media exert mass communication that shapes how we have learned to live in this world without a doubt just like Truman does in The Truman Show. Therefore, it is not as easy and simple as one may think to escape the “media bubble” that effects everyone in the same way it effects Truman.

 Another important concept that is evident in both the reading and the movie is the idea of data mining and a surveillance society. In class, we analyzed how everything from your online financial recordings to what size shoe you are to even what events you attended last week, which are all recorded in some form/database. In the movie, Christof says, “We accept the reality of the world with which we’re presented, it’s as simple as that.” This statement ties into the idea of a dominant or mainstream culture in that one seems to hold sway with the majority of the people (Baran, 2015, p. 11). Culture’s idealized standards of beauty, appeal and liberation are evident in our Facebook posts, Snapchat stories and online presence because our generation has grown up following suit of the mainstream culture of our time. We are oblivious to this element of our everyday ritual, similar to Truman in his inability to comprehend the extent to which his life has been created for him until he is able to escape the lure of Christof in the final scene.

Towards the end of the movie Christof says, “There is no more truth out there than in the world I created for you.” Truman’s life has been cultivated by the media since birth and while this may be simply entertainment to some such as the two older woman and the bathtub man in the movie, it is decoded as an inappropriate and unethical act of manipulation by others such as Lauren/Sylvia. These varying viewpoints stem from multiple points of access, which is an approach to media content from a variety of directions and derives from it many levels of meaning (Baran, 2015, p. 22). Thus, as Baran describes, most of society tuning in to The Truman Show is doing so in order to fulfill self-enjoyment and/or appreciation because they too, are engulfed in this “media bubble” of which we all get sucked into.

In the final scene, these multiple points of access are further analyzed when the viewers react differently to Truman’s escape of his “media bubble” or “world.” Intertextuality is the most important concept to understand in order to interpret this last scene from a media lens. Truman walking on water in the final scene is a parallel to the Bible of Jesus walking on water. In the story “Jesus Walks on the Water” in the New Testament, Jesus tells Peter that he has the courage to come towards him and not to doubt his ability. “Take Courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid,” he says (Aitken, 1968, p. 27).  In this scene, Weir is intentionally visually interweaving both the story from the Matthew and it’s moral content in order to underscore the message that both of them share. This message is that extreme internal strength is necessary to escape a lure, or in Truman’s case, his “scripted paradise” or “media bubble.” Truman confronts his fear of water and even yells out that he is challenging Christof even further with his comment, “That’s all you got?” He displays that he must physically touch the confinements of his “media bubble” in order to build up the courage to leave. This understanding of both stories is necessary to understand the final scene in all its comparable elements to the Bible. For example, Truman’s fixation on the boat when he is knocked out and “resurrected” is similar to the formation of Jesus’ body on the cross (paralleling crucifixion) and Christof’s voice coming from the clouds mirrors the voice of God.

In the end,  the social construction of reality could be cultivated by all the media in recent years, and we accept that reality. Christof might have been right about this matter. We accept the reality that is presented in front of us because that is the only reality we know and learn as we grow up.

facing the reality
Fig.4: In the last scene, Truman must face the confinements of his “media bubble.”

However, since we are trying to become more aware of the ironic and difficult reality of our world that has been shaped and created by media (Fig. 4), how can we identify “true” reality if there even is such a thing?  If the world we live in is somehow manipulated by artificial elements of media then will that always skew our perception of reality? Indeed, it is very hard or almost impossible to classify the definition of true reality when what we believe is true is controlled by mainstream communication and the social construction of our everyday thoughts.  Yes, we do accept the reality that we see in television shows such as Sesame Street because those are sources of knowledge and habits that we have learned from a young age. Similar to the fact that Truman had accepted his ‘fake’ reality that was produced into a show his entire life, we fail to notice the obscurity in what we hear, see and view day after day. Even after we start to recognize and analyze the “media bubble” in which we live, does this realization allow us to build up the courage, like Truman, to actually escape the confinements of this media lure?


Aitken, Robert. The Holy Bible. New York: Arno, 1968. Print.

Baran, Stanley J. “Chapter 1.” Introduction to Mass Communication: Media Literacy and Culture. Boston: McGraw Hill, 2015. 4-27. Print.