YMMV / Being There

  • Alternate Character Interpretation
    • The Twist Ending of the film begs the question of Chance's true nature: is he The Fool or The Messiah? The filmmakers intended the former, but knew the latter interpretation was possible.
      • A rather twisty interpretation suggests that he started as the former, and became the latter as people grew to believe in him.
    • Arguably, the film's existence was based on this. Kosinski wrote Chance as a representation of his fear of a style-over-substance world, having no idea someone could actually identify with such a character. Though they disagreed on the implications of his rise to power — Peter Sellers saw it as the meek inheriting the earth — Kosinski admitted that Sellers understood Chance better than he did.
    • By modern standards, Chance could be seen as autistic rather than mentally challenged, given his behavior. Either way, is it possible he could have been, or still might be, capable of more than he already is if he'd been given professional help rather than treated as a Madwoman in the Attic?
  • Adaptation Displacement: The novella is still in print, but with a picture of Peter Sellers as Chance on the U.S. cover.
  • Award Snub: General opinion nowadays is that Peter Sellers should have won the Best Actor Oscar for this film; he lost to Dustin Hoffman in Kramer vs. Kramer. (Sellers himself blamed the Gag Reel during the end credits for destroying the illusion of the character.)
  • Comedy Ghetto: The most likely reason Peter Sellers didn't win, especially when a mentally challenged character is usually Oscar Bait.
  • Fridge Logic: A rare in-movie example. Louise, a black cook who knew Chance his entire life, complains about it.
    Louise: It's for sure a white man's world in America. Look here: I raised that boy since he was the size of a piss-ant. And I'll say right now, he never learned to read and write. No, sir. Had no brains at all. Was stuffed with rice pudding between th' ears. Shortchanged by the Lord, and dumb as a jackass. Look at him now! Yes, sir, all you've gotta be is white in America, to get whatever you want. Gobbledy-gook!
  • Idiot Plot: A rare case where people not asking obvious questions is part of the story's point.
  • Memetic Mutation:
    • "I like to watch."
    • "Now get this, honky. You go tell Rafael that I ain't taking no jive from no Western Union messenger." (More because of the Hilarious Outtake than the actual scene with the quote).
  • Misaimed Fandom: Kosinski was frustrated that film audiences (especially younger ones) weren't unnerved by the implications of Chance's rise to power — that style will always trump substance; that people can become so warped by TV, etc. that they will not develop their own personality — or even realized them. Of course, Chance is an atypical example of this trope in that he isn't a bad person, but more a victim of circumstance. Due in part to Values Resonance, however, this misaimed fandom is not as much of a problem now.
  • Signature Line: "I like to watch." This line is sometimes used to imply voyeurism, which amuses those who have seen the film as using it in that context is making a mistake some of the characters do.
  • They Copied It, So It Sucks: Kosinski was accused of plagiarising the 1932 Polish novel The Career of Nicodemus Dyzma. Nowadays, it's generally assumed the plots are not really that similar. While both feature a sudden rise of an unexpected character, Nicodemus was not simple-minded, he was poor, and at the end of the novel is usually not perceived as sympathetic.
  • Values Resonance: The growing importance of style over substance, sound bites, etc. in media and politics since The '70s has granted both novel and film this.