I must say I was dissatisfied with the final paper topics. Therefore I wish to discuss my own topic, which stems from the topics of our first papers. I want to discuss the mental health of the nation after the late 70’s, depicted in Hal Ashby’s Being There. I prefer this film because of its original and timeless nature, but especially for its depiction of a nation that seeks solace in the most unlikely of candidates, an idiot savant.
I want to begin this paper with a discussion of Chancy “Gardener,” the protagonist. As an idiot savant, it is important to understand his background and depicted nature to understand the impact he has on America as a whole. I will then briefly detail how he stumbled across the richest and most powerful man in America. I believe this man is meant to personify the desire of America (of anyone) to find an answer to every ailment, or at least employ a philosophy to bear the weight of existence, especially the paranoia that is constant in any country – the paranoia of destruction. This man is a good friend of the president of the United States. I believe the president is a personification of the mental health of America at this time (and often at any time of its contemporary existence). Because of this, I will describe his nature in detail and the ultimate fear he has for Chancy. I will then discuss how Chancy’s ideas spread like wildfire, even as everyone that hears them reinterprets them. Chancy becomes an answer to the mental health of a nation, and ultimately the world at large (referenced in the Masonic imagery depicted at the end of the film). The final images, depicting Chancy as a Christ figure, express this answer in the simplest terms – that “life is a state of mind.”