The Relevance of Being There (1979)
‘First comes spring and summer, but then we have fall and winter. And then we get spring and summer again.’
This is just some of the profound wisdom, or basic gardening advice, that propels a simple minded man named Chance (Peter Sellers) to the very top of American political society in Hal Ashby's satirical gem, Being There (1979).
When the film was first released many saw it as a timely remark on the rise of Ronald Reagan. Now, 40 years later, you could say it's a near perfect parable for the rise of Trump. What makes Being There so poignant today, isn't the image of an incompetent figure make their way to the White House, but rather its portrait of the society that put him there.
In an age where we increasingly depend on soundbites for information, and with a momentous presidential election fast approaching, there's never been a better time to add Being There to your watchlist.
Since as long as he can remember, Chance has lived and worked in the same household, following the same routine in the same surroundings. He is a gardener and a recluse, whose understanding of the outside world is almost entirely shaped by the images he sees on TV. But when his benefactor suddenly dies, Chance is evicted and left to fend for himself on the streets of Washington D.C., lost and confused, and armed with little more than a briefcase and a remote control.
*The way in which we consume and process information
*The prejudice of the American Dream
*We are constantly surrounded by infobytes, constantly trying to be persuaded, with mediums vying for credibility, the result is the need to think critically, and Being There shows a society that is incapable of doing so
*Soundbites of information
* Chance's understanding of the world is based on what he sees on the TV, which has become a reality for modern day society.
'I know it's important to stay informed of all the latest events but, well I find there's so much to assimilate it can be quite muddling at times.'
Commercials through the film provide small soundbites of information, and Chance essentially does the same
Chance becomes marketable by the end, which results in him being considered for the presidency.
'reasonable, intense, sense of humour'
'you don't play games with words to protect yourself, you're direct'
'as long as the roots of industry remain firmly planted in the national soil, the economic prospects are undoubtedly sunny.'
'all you've got to be is white in America to get what you want'
'the gift of being natural'