Page 7 - Discover Fall 2021
P. 7

wealthy Washington kingmaker who                        calm, and serious, never changing his tone

        is dying of cancer, and is a close friend               of voice or showing extreme emotion.
        of the President of the United States.
                                                                   Chance goes on to be introduced to
        He introduces himself as “Chance,
                                                                the President of the United States, and
        the gardener” to the occupants, who
                                                                he is interviewed on television after the
        mistakenly judge him to be a somewhat
                                                                President takes him on as an advisor. He
        sophisticated if not eccentric gentleman.
                                                                becomes a media darling, and regarded
        They misinterpret his introduction to mean
                                                                as a man of great wisdom. Since public
        that his name is Chauncey Gardner, and
                                                                speech is confined to short statements,
        although he tells them that he was not
                                                                non-specific rhetoric, and empty platitudes
        injured, they insist on bringing him to their
                                                                designed to placate an audience with a
        home in the hope of avoiding a potential
                                                                relatively short attention span, Chance fits
                                                                the mold to an absurd tee, to the point
           His mode of dress and gentle, soft-                  at which he is seriously considered as a
        spoken demeanor causes them to believe                  Presidential candidate. (That was a lot
        him to be an intellectual of sorts. His only            funnier in 1979 than it is today.)

        conversation centers around gardening and
                                                                   The final scene of the film follows the
        bits and pieces of television fluff, which are
                                                                funeral of Chance’s newfound wealthy
        misinterpreted by his hosts as metaphorical
                                                                friend, and as he turns and walks away
        speech. He says absolutely nothing of
                                                                from the camera, he casually begins to walk
        substance, and he says it rather well, in
                                                                on water… again, a harbinger of things to
        even, measured tones.
           The ensuing plot is a rather subtle satire
                                                                   Like Forrest Gump, Chance blindly
        of modern political discourse, in which
                                                                stumbles into greatness, but in a
        the players regard Chance’s utterances
                                                                frighteningly realistic setting. This
        as deep thought. In reality, at best, they
                                                                brilliant satire is intended not as a window
        might be considered empty platitudes,
                                                                into great achievement, but as a mirror
        which of course capture the fancy of the
                                                                reflecting own shallow political discourse.
        entire country. Because he is so ignorant of
                                                                How easily we are swayed by simple sound
        the world and was educated primarily by
                                                                bites and empty blather. The movie argues
        television, he speaks in simple sound bites
                                                                that if you look right, sound right, speak in
        that give him the false image of a deep
                                                                platitudes and have powerful friends, you
                                                                can go far in our society. It’s a point that is
           His passion for television (“I like to               hard to argue.
        watch”) is seriously mistaken for voyeurism,

        with hilarious results. Regardless of what
        happens around him, he remains quiet,

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