Being There – FLNWO #39

by | Oct 17, 2016 | Film, Literature & The New World Order | 8 comments

Julian Charles of joins us this month to discuss Being There, the 1979 film by director Hal Ashby that follows the story of Chance the Gardener, a simple man with no experience of the outside world who is suddenly thrust onto the national political stage. Despite his complete lack of knowledge and experience (or precisely because of it) the powers behind the scenes float him as a potential candidate for next president of the United States. So is this a reflection of political reality, or broad satire? What does the movie tell us about the way modern media shapes the political landscape? Find out in this edition of Film, Literature and the New World Order.

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Being There – Roger Ebert

Rockefeller obelisk

Barack Obama: The Ghost of Columbia University

Lying: A Life Story – Review

The Rise and Fall of Jerzy Kosinski

Interview 600 – James Corbett on The Mind Renewed

Last month’s episode and comments: The Purge: Election Year

Next month: American Tabloid by James Ellroy


  1. Chancey Gardener and Maurice Strong have a lot in common.

    What is comedy?

    I think human beings laugh when they are shocked or surprised with absurdities that provide novel perspective on those aspects of their reality they take most for granted. I believe Bill Hicks and George Carlin were often surprised and, at times, even dissapointed that their truths were received with fits of laughter.

    Regarding the “point” of walking on water, could it partially be to challenge the viewer to think? Was the point simply to be the catalyst for conversations such as the one I enjoyed between James and Julian? High art (and this film is rich poetry) invites its patrons to revisit their assumptions.

    It is very encouraging to view two respectful, brilliant gentlemen engaging in a stimulating conversation.

    I mean no disrespect….. and I am certainly less a gentleman than Mr. Corbett…. thus I feel compelled to point out the irony of a Christian asking whether or not we are being conditioned to believe certain things. I don’t mean to single out Christianity nor do I suggest there are not a great many redeeming qualities in the religions. For me, what is sacred is the pursuit of truth… no matter how painful, humbling, frightening….

    A final point: this movie reminds me that a certain fraction of the population has always been aware of the many public deceptions that have existed for thousands of years. This message is a recurring theme in the arts.

    “fascist theorcracy”

    I worry for the hypothetical individual who earns respect in a quantity deemed dangerous by TPSB. The threat of crucifixion is a constant reminder.

  2. An intersting movie, indeed. I must admit, that I didn’t know it until now.
    From my point of view Chance is a “healer”, a kind of “saint”. (I am quite shure, that this has been observed ba many)
    And he is also a “boy” and a “fool”. Both are inocent and therefore closer to God by nature, as one can read in the mystic literature.
    Plato thought that actually philosophers should govern in a state because of ther intellect and they carefulness. In “Being There” it would be the opposite: a holy fool. Both never happened in reality. Maybe it would be nice. But it is not plausible. Sooner or later Chance would have been crucified. sfmbe*

    *sorry for my bad English=-)

  3. I love this film. To me, aside from the political and social implications, this is a religious film. And it explores the idea that if God was going to do another Jesus then it would be essential for him to be an idiot otherwise he would be corrupted by life.

  4. Loved the movie and the discussion. Slightly off topic, but “Being There” was referenced in the debate on the history of science in an interesting (if dense) academic article by Steve Fuller in 1992 “Being There with Thomas Kuhn: A Parable for Postmodern Times”. He argues that Thomas ‘Paradigm Shift’ Kuhn’s ascent to prominence was due to the “Being There” Chauncey effect.
    Reading the conclusion alone will probably be enough to give you an idea, and also make your head spin.

  5. Just watched ‘Being There’ along with the Corbett / Charles commentary whilst also reading C.S. Lewis essay ‘Willing Slaves of the Welfare State – Is progress possible?’ There is a lot of meat on the sandwich of this film. However, I think a key theme is enslavement. In many ways, Chance is twice a slave. The first half of his life spent house-bound, tending a garden with no record of him ever classed as an employee or tenant. The second half of his life entails willing enslavement to Rand and then the Oligarchs. He perhaps represents the ‘useful idiot’ that we all are to some extent.

    C.S. Lewis essay is here –

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