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Thread: Would "The Truman Show" be legal if it really happened?

  1. #1
    Out of the cradle endlessly rocking Exir's Avatar
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    Would "The Truman Show" be legal if it really happened?

    I was just wondering -- suppose a reality TV show just like the one in The Truman Show was built in our real world. Could it ever fly from a legal perspective? Especially since our Constitution is becoming looser and looser every day. I mean, it does violate human rights, but I can't help but wonder: if the corporation had enough lawyers to argue their way around loopholes, and there was heavy lobbying from business and media interests, maybe the law would allow it to happen. After all, except for the "nuclear leak" episode and the final part where Christof creates a dangerous storm to capsize his ship, there was never any physical force involved to keep him there, only suggestions and persuasion. That could bring charges of conspiracy against Christof, but then -- conspiracy against what, exactly?

    Even if it becomes illegal to keep Truman on the island once he's older than 18, they could still go for the proverbial frog in the kettle approach. You could argue that when Truman is still a child, there's nothing illegal about the show, so the law allows the show to go on. Then, when he gets older, you could then argue -- well, since we're already doing this for so long, and his life is very happy so far, why don't we allow it to run longer? And once he's a legal adult, and they must release him by law, Christof could then argue: look, he already thinks this is the "real" world, and he thinks this is his Mom, and he has all his friends and a job and everything, and if we suddenly break the truth to him that, "nope, this is all fake", we'll have to invent a whole new field of psychiatry just to deal with all the issues he'll be having! Do you think that's good for him? I don't think so. And perhaps the public and the law would grudgingly agree.

    Anyways, just wondering. What are your thoughts?
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  2. #2
    Vengeful Crystaline Hawk 45C AW Moderator Zoombie's Avatar
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    No, it would not be legal and the expenses required to run it would make it impossible.
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  3. #3
    Out of the cradle endlessly rocking Exir's Avatar
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    You'd be amazed at how many things that shouldn't be legal can slip through the law. Especially when there are interest groups involved. And somebody with the wealth of, say, Bill Gates, could build it. Sure, it very probably would be a big big failure in terms of investment, but it definitely could be built.
    Last edited by Exir; 11-29-2009 at 11:00 AM.
    "A work of art is useless as a flower is useless. A flower blossoms for its own joy. We gain a moment of joy by looking at it. That is all that is to be said about our relations to flowers. Of course man may sell the flower, and so make it useful to him, but this has nothing to do with the flower. It is not part of its essence. It is accidental. It is a misuse."

    -- Oscar Wilde


  4. #4
    Vengeful Crystaline Hawk 45C AW Moderator Zoombie's Avatar
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    But why would someone like Bill Gates or...well, anyone else rich enough to do so, do so?

    That is, the movie is a movie, and so one can forgive lapses in logic, but really, the cost of running Trueman's little world would far outweigh the income...and more than that, a show about someone's everyday life would be kinda...boring, even with editors.

    BUT!

    This is really making me want to watch The Trueman Show again...

    I think I will!
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  5. #5
    Disgruntled Scientist dgiharris's Avatar
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    The principle question is can a corporarion adopt a child?.

    In truth, I'm not quite sure. The reason doesn't so much have to do with the Constitution, but rather that to my knowledge, no corporation has ever tried to adopt a child.

    And laws are defined by precendent and court rulings...

    The constitution doesn't really spell out all the laws, but rather is the foundation and benchmark that laws are measured against.

    I guess the real answer depends on how the law defines a corporation and if the entity that is a corporation has the same rights, privileges, etc. etc. as a person.

    I think you could present a compelling legal argument to allow a corporation to adopt a child...

  6. #6
    Vengeful Crystaline Hawk 45C AW Moderator Zoombie's Avatar
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    Back! Its still a good movie.

    Also, would not using a person in this way be a kind of slavery? If not, I think its close enough to help shoot the idea down.
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  7. #7
    Disgruntled Scientist dgiharris's Avatar
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    I think you run into legal problems once the person turns 18.

    up to that point, you are more or less your parent's property (of course you have some rights ) and it wouldn't be much different than just being in a TV sitcom

    Mel...

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    Vengeful Crystaline Hawk 45C AW Moderator Zoombie's Avatar
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    Scept you could then argue that being raised to believe a TV sitcom is real is whatcha call it...abuse!

    Simply because, at 18, the person would HAVE to be given rights and that includes telling them what has been done to them.

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  9. #9
    Fizz. Kersplat. Bang. Rarri's Avatar
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    There'd still be (potentially) up to eighteen years worth of entertainment up to that point and then, of course, the aftermath. Doesn't seem unfeasible in legal terms, when you think of all the reality shows out there'; plenty of parents allow their children to be on TV, well before the kids can even say whether they want to be or not.
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  10. #10
    Vengeful Crystaline Hawk 45C AW Moderator Zoombie's Avatar
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    But the difference is that those kids are not raised in a fake world without being told that its...well...fake.
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  11. #11
    Fizz. Kersplat. Bang. Rarri's Avatar
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    Oh, i know, but it's the fact that either way the children are raised under cameras without a choice.
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  12. #12
    Disgruntled Scientist dgiharris's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zoombie View Post
    But the difference is that those kids are not raised in a fake world without being told that its...well...fake.
    We raise children in the fake world all the time.

    Easter Bunny, tooth fairy, santa clause.

    What about the religious cults out there that force children to live in compounds with zero access to books, tv, and radio.

    Oprah did a story on one of those compounds, the children had no concept of Cinderella, Mickey Mouse, Football, Soccer, Michael Jordan, Hannah Montana, etc. etc.

    So what is different in that scenario? You have a group of people who are FORCED to live in this environment until they turn 18.

    Mel...

  13. #13
    Geekzilla BigWords's Avatar
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    Wait... The Easter Bunny isn't real?

    *looks around*

    Uh. I knew that. Sure I did...
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  14. #14
    Out of the cradle endlessly rocking Exir's Avatar
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    IF a corporation is allowed to adopt a child, and IF the child is allowed to be put in a fake world (I mean, with a crafty lawyer you could argue that you simply persuaded him not to leave this place, and you never used physical force to force him to stay, and you never had to explicitly lie to him that "this world isn't real" -- you simply remained silent on that topic without saying things one way or another), then it is possible that The Truman Show will be allowed to run. And ONCE he reached 18, you could then argue to the public that they'd be doing a disservice to Truman by ruining his life and his conception of everything that has happened before, and that instead of messing him up psychologically and giving him identity issues, why don't we just continue? The proverbial frog in the kettle.

    Regarding the profitability -- well, maybe a loony who likes to think of himself as a visionary really would attempt such a project. Of course, if the returns then happen to be absurdly low, he'd probably see the error of his ways and cancel the show within a year or something. Or maybe not -- and he'll keep dumping money in the hole.

    But a fictional world like that is actually much less expensive to run than you'd think -- after all, it has a functioning, self contained economy, and I'm sure the extras don't just mope around doing nothing all day -- they must be doing a lot of the other stuff that normal people do. It's probably only Truman's closest friends and family that are in actor mode 100% of the time. You could consider the people in Truman's world to be normal people with a modified lifestyle, rather than servants who revolve around him all day and night.

    EDIT: Rewatching the scene, I found that, yes, the extras do pretty much mope around all day doing nothing. Sigh. Still, a modified, more practical version of Truman's show could still work in the real world (even if only theoretically).
    Last edited by Exir; 11-29-2009 at 06:16 PM.
    "A work of art is useless as a flower is useless. A flower blossoms for its own joy. We gain a moment of joy by looking at it. That is all that is to be said about our relations to flowers. Of course man may sell the flower, and so make it useful to him, but this has nothing to do with the flower. It is not part of its essence. It is accidental. It is a misuse."

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    I get cancer. I kill Jack. Fox The Cave's Avatar
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    How do you know you're not the star of The Exir Show right now?

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    Come Wayward Souls...! maxmordon's Avatar
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    Indeed, Christoff says once that Truman can leave whenever he wants, though you know how that works in practice...
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    you didn't come and help me kuwisdelu's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fox The Cave View Post
    How do you know you're not the star of The Exir Show right now?

    ...

    Did I just blow your mind? I think I did.
    You're fired.

  18. #18
    Legal Authority/Public Intellectual robeiae's Avatar
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    Joker Groupie Celia Cyanide's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zoombie View Post
    the expenses required to run it would make it impossible.
    I think that's the main issue. The whole point of reality TV, at least from a network's perspective, is that it's cheap. The Truman Show would be much more expensive than any regular TV show.
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    Even if there's nothing explicitly illegal about turning a kid's life into a TV show, I doubt it would be allowed. Because people would, quite accurately, call it child abuse. In real life, someone who found out their entire world was fake and that their whole life had been filmed and broadcast would probably have a complete mental breakdown.

  21. #21
    beerful symmetry Albedo's Avatar
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    California has fairly explicit laws against overworking child performers. So 24 hours a day from birth would be right out. Not to mention they have to be paid...
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    Geekzilla BigWords's Avatar
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    The UK has some laws which are being considered, if not actively being put through, limiting or banning children from appearing in non-fiction television works. It kinda spells the end for a lot of childrens' television shows, so it might get nixed.
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  23. #23
    Out of the cradle endlessly rocking Exir's Avatar
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    The UK has some laws which are being considered, if not actively being put through, limiting or banning children from appearing in non-fiction television works. It kinda spells the end for a lot of childrens' television shows, so it might get nixed.
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    -- Oscar Wilde


  24. #24
    It's a doggy dog world benbradley's Avatar
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    All these legal problems can be avoided by buying a small island somewhere where the laws of major nations don't apply, and doing 'whatever' there.

    With money (just about) anything is possible.
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  25. #25
    practical experience, FTW the addster's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by benbradley View Post
    All these legal problems can be avoided by buying a small island somewhere where the laws of major nations don't apply, and doing 'whatever' there.

    With money (just about) anything is possible.
    Yep.

    And actually corporations can adopt children, in the US. It's actually a standard procedure. Parental rights are terminated and transferred to an adoption agency like Catholic Charities which is a non-profit corporation, then usually transferred to adoptive parents. Theoretically this could be done by a for profit corporation meeting standards in some states.

    I don't know about fake worlds, but consider this....

    Parent (biological or not) sets up web cameras, like folks put on there puppies, and broadcasts it over there website, Kiddie Cam, 24-7. Legal? Heck, I wouldn't be surprised if it hasn't already happened.
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