There are several films that I think every Scientologist should see. One of them is The Truman Show, the 1998 film starring Jim Carrey. If you haven’t seen it, rent it and I think you’ll get a kick out of it.
The plot centers around a reality television show, “The Truman Show,” whose main character, Truman Burbank, has lived his entire life since before birth in front of the cameras for the show, though he himself is unaware of this fact. Truman’s life is filmed through thousands of hidden cameras, 24 hours a day and broadcast live around the world. Truman’s hometown of Seahaven is a complete set built under a giant dome and populated by the show’s actors and crew, allowing full control of every aspect of Truman’s life. Everything he experiences is supplied by the show – his “family,” his “friends,” his “job,” the newspapers he reads, the TV shows he watches, and so on.
To keep Truman from discovering the false reality of his life, he is bombarded with false news reports and advertising about how dangerous and hostile the world is outside of Seahaven, and how good and safe it is to stay at home. Despite all these precautions, Truman begins to notice oddities, and his sense of “cognitive dissonance” grows, particularly after he falls in love with an extra (not part of the script) and she tries to tell him the truth about his life. The girl mysteriously disappears (disconnection?).
The parallels are interesting, and it relates to something I call “the bubble”- the self-contained Scientology world.
Just as in Truman’s Seahaven, the world outside Scientology’s safe bubble is depicted as dangerous and hostile. A friend just sent me some recent Sea Org recruitment promo. The headline reads “We live in a world gone mad” and goes on to say “An environment where Suppressives are bent on inhibiting the few working to create a better world.” That’s the outside world that the Church loves to promote to its members – a scary world inhabited by Suppressives, haters, and bigots, where an all-powerful cabal of psychs and big pharma companies works through a vast army of masked Anonymous terrorists to thwart Scientology at every turn, and churn out volumes of “lies” about the Church. Just like Seahaven’s fake “news broadcasts,” these stories are designed to keep Scientologists from sticking their heads outside the bubble.
Inside the bubble, of course, everything is safe and wonderful. The Church is “expanding.” The Church’s leader, David Miscavige, is perfect in every way, and has never done anything wrong. The tech “always works” and uniformly produces rave successes. LRH was a saintly, benign, and godlike genius (even though he never claimed to be anything of the sort). Scientology’s faceless but benign “management” stalwartly carries forward Ron’s legacy. Everything is fine. It’s the perfectly scripted Truman Show.
Being able to control the flow of information – both into the bubble and within the bubble – is vital. Everyone has to stay on-script.
Controlling the flow of information into the bubble is simple. You simply brand all outside information as entheta, lies, Black PR, natter, and so forth. If any residents of the bubble come into contact with outside information (what the rest of us might call “reality”), they are simply told it’s “all lies.” That handles it. They are told it’s “entheta.” They are told NOT to read it or watch it. They are threatened with a visit to Ethics if they do.
Controlling the flow of information within the bubble is simple, too. Scientologists know what they can and can’t say, and they stay on-script. They know they cannot openly challenge or criticize Management or David Miscavige, so they don’t. They know they can’t question any of the Church’s actions, so they don’t. They know they can’t criticize any part of Scientology, so they don’t. They dutifully report when they are told to report, pay when they are told to pay, and rise for a “standing ovation” at the correct scripted points at an event, just as the house lights come on and the cameras sweep over their smiling faces. Just like the residents of Truman’s Seahaven, they know that they must never deviate from the script.
Trying to communicate the reality of what’s going on behind the scenes in the Church to one of these bubble residents can be a frustrating task. They just don’t see it. It’s not part of the approved script. You can present them with evidence of David Miscavige’s abuse and malfeasance, and they just look at you blankly and say something insipid like “that’s not my reality,” or “that’s just entheta.” You can present evidence that the Church is declining, and it will go right over their heads. Because that wasn’t what they were told at an event, or in Impact Magazine, therefore it can’t be true. You can provide them with link after link, and they’ll just tell you that they never visit “entheta sites” or “natter boards.” And if pressed, you’ll find out they consider anything other than approved Church websites to be “entheta sites.”
The bubble is one of the hardest things to crack. With some people it’s impossible.
But the bubble has a weak point. It can be cracked from within. And, as with Truman himself, it is the individual inside the bubble who eventually cracks it. It begins when they discover that the perfect, storybook world they are immersed in is not what it seems to be. The flaws and lies become more and more visible. One begins to see the manipulative hand of the hidden director.
And one day, like Truman, they reach the edge of the bubble and walk through it to freedom.