By Tom Bartlett
Are we living in The Truman Show?
For any unfamiliar with this 1998 film, Jim Carrey plays Truman Burbank—a young man unaware that he is the subject of a reality film that has tracked his life since birth. A massive stage has been built to restrict Truman’s movements and wall him in from discovering the world beyond the confines of his movie set existence. A director and team of writers propel his story forward and engineer the nature of his interactions. All those in his sphere are merely actors playing the role of friends, co-workers, neighbours and even those he believes to be his parents.
Things start to go awry when cracks emerge in their carefully constructed schema and Truman goes off script. His handlers goad him back in line through guided interventions, coordinated messaging, and manufactured dangers to deter him from travel. As Truman becomes stubbornly tenacious about learning the truth, efforts to keep him in the dark become farcically transparent. Ultimately, the director considers whether he is willing to sacrifice Truman’s life to keep up the façade.
The Truman Show perfectly illustrates the current state of our western culture. Fixed secular borders are being erected with no one allowed to cross. Cultural, legal and political institutions are working in concert to corral everyone into the approved queue. The tools being used are intimidation, shaming, social prohibitions, mandated trainings, academic indoctrination, legal penalties and job loss. The elites in charge of our institutions seem blind to the fact that when bullying is required to make your argument, chances are you are holding a weak hand, too much power, and a dearth of principles.
At the risk of being accused of being nothing more than another director on another soundstage simply perpetuating another myth, my objective is not obfuscation and sleight of hand. In fact, the impetus that propelled me into adopting my position on this particular social issue is that I was indifferent until I chose to look behind the curtain. The Trumanesque agenda I’d like to raise here is regarding the abortion issue and the coordinated censoring efforts brought to bear to keep the truth from seeping in.
You’ll be forgiven if you haven’t heard about the release of the film; Unplanned that opened in theatres across the U.S. Unplanned is the biographical account of Abby Johnson, former Director and Employee of the Year at a Texas Planned Parenthood abortion clinic. Johnson herself had bought wholesale into the narrative that PP was an organisation on a tireless crusade to advocate for vulnerable women victimized by a reactionary Christian patriarchy. Events conspired to convince her she had been deceived.
Johnson had believed the organisation’s stated objectives of “safe, legal and rare” efforts to terminate an unwanted pregnancy should be accessed without interference. Having swallowed the party line that the unborn was merely a clump of cells, Johnson saw this illusion shattered when she was called on to assist with an ultrasound-guided abortion of a 13-week-old fetus. The experience caused her to run to the arms of the prolife protestors who had been her adversaries for 8 years and she has since become an unwavering champion of the unborn.
Not only did her book get ignored, but no one within the Hollywood establishment had any interest in filming it, so outsiders took it on. Similarly, there was a reticence to distribute the film, which had a limited release; opening in roughly a fourth of the theatres accessible to mainstream Hollywood films. Clearly there was an audience, as even with this handicap Unplanned came in fourth in terms of box office receipts for the opening weekend – beating out the recently released and heavily promoted Captain Marvel.
This is an even greater achievement considering the other roadblocks thrown up in the path of the film’s release. The MPAA (Motion Picture Association of America) handicapped Unplanned with an R-rating, knowing this would inhibit the key demographics of Christians and young people from seeing the film. In their zealotry to censor the message they sought to contain, they ended up playing themselves.
Being a faith-based film sex and language were clearly not concerns, which left the ratings agency’s only justification being depictions of violence. The only aspect of the film that could conceivably (pun intended) be deemed to show violence was the portrayal of abortions. I’d need to check my memory banks, but aren’t we told repeatedly that abortion is merely an innocuous private choice between a woman and her doctor to remove a cell mass? Violence is a volitional act committed by humans against other living beings. Unless the MPAA is insisting that abortion is legally sanctioned violence against the mother, the only possible victim is the innocent human child in the mother’s womb.
Efforts to include music of mainstream performers were rebuffed by the musicians themselves and studios such as Disney, Universal Music and Sony. Once the film was in the can, several stations (i.e. The Discovery Channel and its subsidiaries and Lifetime) refused to advertise the film. Even some Christian stations failed to advertise, primarily citing the film’s R-rating as a reason. The rating similarly meant that the film could not be promoted on screens except during showings of other “R-rated” movies, where again they could not reach their target demographic. It should be noted that not even the detractors are claiming the abortion depictions to be inaccurate.
Finally, just after the film’s release, Twitter suspended the account for Unplanned, but reinstated it in the wake of a major public backlash. Twitter insisted this was done in error (oopsie)! I’m sure it was a coincidence that it is consistently conservative Christian accounts that are subject to such “inadvertent” censorship events. Google also claimed an own goal against themselves after their platform listed the movie as “propaganda.” Needless to say, no media or talk show platforms have invited any of the movie’s participants to appear, and there is a tacit block-out from the mainstream that no leftist is willing to challenge.
Nevertheless, the impact of the movie is being felt with many who identified as “pro-choice” prior to seeing the movie now say they are “pro-life.” Johnson’s organisation, “And Then There Were None” which seeks to assist abortion workers to walk away from abortion clinics and find new jobs has had calls from over 100 people seeking their services. No wonder advocates of abortion are so scared.
Many who read this column may write it off as mere agitprop from the Christian right. But before you reach that conclusion, I invite you to see what today’s elite don’t want you to see. It’s interesting how the real counter culture is found on the right and those who have identified as “liberal” will pull out all the stops to silence facts they don’t like. This is standard operating procedure for the new left, but hopefully I’ll be heard by genuine free thinkers, men and women willing to break from the herd and check out what elitists don’t want you to see. Incidentally, I don’t believe this is a coordinated conspiracy—only powerful activists doing what comes naturally within their individual spheres.
As I write this, a campaign is underway to lobby for theatres to show this movie in Canada. I’m asking you to add your voice to this initiative and go and see the movie so you can reach your own conclusions. I’m hoping to have reasoned discussions with anyone willing to throw off their blinders and look beyond the propaganda. Social issues like this are important and deserve better than allowing either side to be written off as crackpots based on ridiculous caricatures.