Five years before he began starring in an actual reality show, Kanye West already felt like the hidden cameras were watching him all the time. And not just any cameras, but the ones from “The Truman Show,” the flick in which Jim Carrey’s character discovers that his entire existence is part of a lifelong network reality show.
“BONNAROO SHOULD HAVE RELEASED A STATEMENT IN MY DEFENSE BUT SINCE THEY HAVEN’T LET’S BREAK DOWN THE WALLS ON THIS TRUMAN SHOW AND LET YOU KNOW WHAT REALLY OCCURRED!!!” Kanye all-caps ranted back in 2008 after his set at the festival was delayed.
It was the start of a five-year spree of “Truman” references that has seen ’Ye continuing to name-check the movie. As recently as this week, in a rare, epic one-hour interview with BBC Radio 1’s Zane Lowe , the Chicago MC again evoked Truman Burbank in a rant about his fight for footing in the fashion world.
So what’s his strange obsession with “The Truman Show”? We’re not sure, but ’Ye definitely seems to bring it up whenever he wants to vent about how some unseen hand is (mis-)guiding his career or telling him how to live his life. And if there’s one thing we know about Kanye, it’s that he calls the shots.
“Our best perspective on T-shirts. But if it’s anything else, your ’Truman Show’ boat is hitting the wall,” he said to Lowe, explaining how he’d been limited by short-sighted corporations in his quest to become a legit fashion designer.
Kanye seems particularly obsessed with the film’s final scene, in which a suspicious Truman boards a sailboat and rides it to the end of his “world,” only to hit a “wall” that turns out to be the edge of a TV set. (Spoiler alert: Truman eventually escapes through a door to freedom, but not before bumping up against that wall.)
In the first part of the BBC Radio interview, Kanye explains why he often goes on long, agitated monologues during his live concerts: “I’ve reached a point in my life where my ’Truman Show’ boat has reached the painting.”
That image of the dinghy hitting the wall has clearly stuck with West, who also mentioned it in a 2009 blog post after his infamous stage-crash of Taylor Swift at the MTV Video Music Awards. Breaking his Internet silence five days later in a (since deleted) post headlined, “Another day in the Truman Show AKA my life!,” Yeezy even uploaded the movie’s poster.
While we can’t say for sure why it’s stuck with him, it’s safe to say the movie has a permanent place in ’Ye’s Netflix queue.