Welcome To The Puppet Show // Steph Giertsen

The movie the Truman Show is about Truman Burbank who was born to be the star of a documentary about his life. The town he lived in was

a movie set built under a dome in Los Angeles, entirely controlled by the director, Christof. The town was as perfect as you could imagine. From the impeccably groomed lawns, to the charming homes, and the merry citizens to boot, the community had the stereotypical small town vibe. Truman had a coveted desk job, that his friend Marlon said everyone else in town pined for. Truman even had a pretty, 50’s housewife who cooked, cleaned, and spoke sweetly. He led a perfectly, ordinary, “American Dream” life. Although completely fictional, Truman accepted this world because it was all he had ever known.

Truman was living a fine life, being blissfully ignorant to the possibilities available to him the real world because he was unaware to them. He was conditioned and taught not to think about other options. His dream of exploring the earth was crushed in his elementary school class, when the teacher said the entire world had already been explored. Or, when he wanted to follow his true love to Fiji, Christof made him afraid of the water. Truman realized his sense of adventure in his heart would never be fulfilled, deciding that he must escape. Truman’s life was utopia like, to perfect to be true.
However, can ignorance ever be perfection? Ignorance is NOT bliss. Think of all the times you acted through ignorance and negatively affected others. It is impossible to be truly happy if you are not living ethically and looking out for one another. My definition of happiness is living life in such a way that the love you hold in your heart radiates and touches those around you, occurring when you embrace the opportunities life gives to you. When you are acting in ignorance in the absence of choice, you aren’t living ethically so you are in a false state of happiness. This artificial happiness is an illusion that can never fully satisfy the depths of the human soul. We are not but puppets on a string we are living, breathing humans that need to choose our life.

We are unable to make choices when we are kept in the dark. One is unable to deliberate if they do not even know they have choices. American education system is preventing us from knowledge that is necessary for comprehension of our surroundings, this has been found especially in the food industry. Children are easily influenced by their surroundings and the media. We have failed to arm them with the knowledge of manipulative advertising. Jamie Oliver started Food Revolution 3 years ago, with a goal of improving the knowledge of where food comes from and its effects on the body. It’s simple.  Screen Shot 2014-03-21 at 11.01.20 AM He desires to change the school lunch system with the addition of fresh, good food. Jamie wanted to implement education into the school system by starting cooking classes, so each child can know ten easy, nutritious recipes. Jaime Oliver tested a first grade class on the names of different vegetables. The children could not identify any of the vegetables presented to them, which is extremely frightening. After they failed that test, they were shown a French fry and a chicken nugget; the entire class could get that one right. Our up-and-coming generation does not know the difference between a tomato and a potato. It is necessary to teach American children the basics of nutritional eating if we want the purchasing power to be in the consumers’ hands again- the power to have choice.

Screen Shot 2014-03-21 at 11.02.08 AM Oliver gruesomely demonstrated to a class of eight year olds how chicken nuggets were made, ripping apart the meat, grinding up the bones, and molding the slosh together to form the perfect patty (Oliver). Despite the grossness they just observed, the kids still opted for the friendly shape engrained in their memories. The children’s reactions horrified me.

I realized that I was in no place to judge these children because I had reacted similarly to this course. I’m a student as Santa Clara University, currently enrolled in a Critical Thinking and Writing course focused on the relationship between self, culture, technology, and the food industry. For the past year, my CTW course enlightened me on the inner workings of the food industry- the horrors committed on the meatpacking floor, injustices done onto workers, and harmful chemicals utilized to manipulate food became aware to me. As David Foster Wallace beautifully said in his commencement speech to Kenyon College, “the real value of education is simple awareness” (Wallace). However, I have not changed my eating habits. The countless horrific facts I learned affected me greatly. I even remember calling my parents and telling them about all I had learned but this passion never transgressed to my diet choices.

I could not comprehend why after being armed with this powerful knowledge I continued to make the easy, more convenient choice of eating meat. I did a verbal survey with seventeen Santa Clara University students to further explore the lost connection between the corpses we consume and the animals living on this earth. Prior to the test I informed the participants “I am going to read you a list of meat, and you are going to tell me what animal it comes from, okay?” The list included chicken breast, hot dog, lunchmeat, corned beef, pastrami, veal cutlet, California roll, locks, and pepperoni. I was astonished by the trouble my classmates had with the questioning. Chicken was a no brainer for the seventeen participants; you could hear the confident start in their voice with the end inflection of “is this really that simple?” The students struggled with hot dog, lunchmeat, corned beef, pastrami, and pepperoni. They second-guessed themselves and very rarely said an animal name. Only three out of seventeen participants actually answered with an animal for lunchmeat, replying with chicken, cow, and pig.


The other fourteen people instead responded with an “assortment of meats”, listing roast beef, salami, ham, prosciutto, and peperoni. One student replied to the list with only beef and pork. He finished off the questioning by answering, “mmm baby beef, delicious!” in response to veal cutlet. (Giertsen). Many students had never heard of Bagels and Locks, and many did not even know that there is meat in California rolls. One student even thought pastrami came from duck. Students were completely unaware that their responses were not even close to animals. There subconscious did not consider the animal because they had only ever thought about there food as something to satisfy their hunger. Although, it’s not automatic to think of your food’s origins it seems like it would be a pretty apparent part of the process. In order to live life deliberately we need to consciously be aware of the reasons for the choices we make.

College-educated students, admitted to a prestigious university like Santa Clara could not differentiate meat and animals in their minds. Meat companies have distorted our view of meat and animals-America has an enormous problem on its hands. We are told to eat meat and not think about it because that is how its always been done. If shoppers have been desensitized to this, there are endless other possibilities of things we are kept out of the loop on. But with the acquisition of knowledge comes responsibility, we now must choose to be informed. We cannot live on this natural default to the monotonous and automatic processing of life’s events (Wallace). Citizens must learn how to be consciously adjusted so they can decide what has meaning in life and what does not. We can no longer pretend that being controlled like puppets is beneficial to us. Convenience and quickness do not win out in the end because the cheating aspect of it hurts our ability for choice. A seeming utopia inevitably leads to a dystopia because it is too perfect to actually work without consequence. Like in Truman’s reality, the control was overwhelming. The bigger things grow the less ethical they become. The most obvious realities are the ones we are surrounded with daily. It is difficult for us to comprehend. The real freedom in life is the power to choose to not to live on the automatic default setting.

Works Cited

Burkett, Eric. Jamie Oliver Recall’s His Food Revolution. N.d. Delish. Web. 21 Mar. 2014.

Giertsen, Steph. Meat and Animal Connection Survey. Feb. 2014. Raw Data. Santa Clara, CA

Jack In The Box: Moink. N.d. Lunch Pig RSS. Web. 21 Mar. 2014.

Jamie Oliver, Chicken Nuggets, and One Meaning of Sukkot. N.d. Home. By Bryant Simon. Web. 21 Mar. 2014.

Montes, Goni. Science Undermined: People On Puppets. N.d. Goni Montes. As The Int’l Corporate State Fails, A New And Promising Society Rises Up. Web. 21 Mar. 2014.

Oliver, Jamie. Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution. Jamie Oliver Food Revolution, n.d. Web. 12 Feb. 2014.

Wallace, David F. “This Is Water.” More Intelligent Life. The Economist, n.d. Web. 21 Mar. 2014.


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