Even though it’s obvious, only two people in Being There know that Chance the gardener is stupid. One is an African-American woman who cooked his meals. Watching Chance spout meaningless drivel on TV to praise and applause, she says “It’s for sure a white man’s world in America. I raised that boy since he was the size of a pissant, and I’ll say right now he never learned to read and write. No sir. Had no brains at all. He’s stuck with rice pudding between the ears. Short changed by the Lord and dumb as a jackass. Look at him now. Yes sir, all you gotta be is white in America to get whatever you want. Gobbledygook.”
The other person who knows how stupid Chance is is a doctor, who watches Chance bring comfort to a dying man and so lets him continue hanging around speaking nonsense but lifting spirits.
Everyone else thinks he’s brilliant. The U.S. president is so bothered by the enigma of Chance’s brilliance that he goes impotent. Journalists, lawyers, the CIA and the FBI are all baffled. Chance has captivated America, yet he has no past and barely exists in the present.
Peter Sellers plays Chance as simplistic, quiet and calm. He only wants TV. He’s middle-aged but can’t feed himself, yet he has a suit. Accidentally struck by the car of a rich woman, he so charms her that she brings him home and, ultimately, falls for him. Shirley MacLaine’s Eve masturbates on a bear rug because she doesn’t understand that when Chance says “I like to watch,” he means TV. He knows nothing.
The final two images are power at the highest echelon in Washington DC, followed by power beyond physics. The last shot of this movie is surreal, befitting the ridiculousness of any modern president’s billionaire buddies.
Idiotic masses are governed by fools, and the people who see it are helpless. That’s my own cynical interpretation; my smartest cinephile friend says Chance represents commonsense and simplicity in an over-complicated world. Gobbledygook, J.R. Young! Politicians and their billionaire friends are weird, stupid assholes.