We watched the movie Being There with Peter Sellers last night. I'd seen it years ago, but Tess had never seen it. I found the movie as relevant today as it was when it was first released in 1979.
Being There is based on a novel by Jerzy Kosiniski. The plot is simple:
A simple-minded gardener named Chance has spent all his life in the Washington D.C. house of an old man. When the man dies, Chance is put out on the street with no knowledge of the world except what he has learned from television. After a run in with a limousine, he ends up a guest of the wealthy owner of the limo (Eve) and her husband Ben, an influential but dying businessman who is also one of the political power brokers in D.C. Now called Chauncey Gardner, Chance becomes friend and confidante to Ben, and an unlikely political insider. Chauncey quickly becomes a celebrity and ends up counseling the president of the United States (Chauncey is actual so simple-minded that he generally only parrots back what is said to him). The movie ends with the implication that Chauncey has a good chance of becoming the next president of the United States.
What intriques me about this movie is not the inside joke about any old fool being able to become president in the United States. We already know that. It's Chauncey's total lack of ego or desire to be famous that makes it inevitable that he will be famous. Chauncey doesn't even draw a distinction between being on television via a camera in the window of a electronics store and being on the Tonight Show.
This made me think about all of the people out there who really want to be famous and go to great lengths to become famous, but never quite make it. Or the people who are really quite remarkable for many reasons but are never acknowledged in life. This also made me think about blogging. Electronics and the Internet have enabled everyone and their proverbial dog to slap up their words and photos and potentially be seen by millions of people. But it is the sheer volume of people jockeying for attention on the Web that I feel, dooms everyone to anonymity. We literally can no longer see the forest for all of the trees.
Oh, some blogs create blips on the media radar for an instance and then slip back into the boiling pot of billions of blogs. And most blogs eventually develop a small circle of readers. But acquanting the average blog following to fame is a bit like Yertle the Turtle thinking he ruled all that he could see. Eventually humilty forces everyone to see they simply rule their own little corner of the universe and it is pretty darn insignificant in the scheme of things.
But that's okay. Even Lucifer knew it was better to rule in hell than serve in heaven.