Jerzy Kosinski's novel and Hal Ashby's film Being There both depict society as obsessed with the media. They must know everything about someone or something, so much so the thought process gets all mixed up.
The only person unaffected by this is Chance. Sure, he watches a fair amount of television, but it doesn't particularly stick. When he speaks, everyone assumes there is a philosophical meaning behind his words. Is there? No, he merely says what little information he has learned in his life.
Kosinski's novel is written in the third person, but it's evident that it's told from Chance's perspective. The writing style is simplistic and doesn't go into grand detail about anything. Not that it's a bad thing at all. It allows the reader to see the world through Chance's eyes.
Ashby's film possesses the same subtle tone that Kosinski's novel has, yet at the same time it feels more sincere than the novel. That's because Peter Sellers' role of Chance makes it possible. Far from the manic roles he did in the years before, Sellers displays a sort of silent honesty in Chance. His Oscar loss will remain a blight on the Academy.
Both the novel and the film have their own charms, though it's the film that proves victorious. It has a truthfulness that the novel (and most other films) lacks. It also captures how dependent society has become towards the media, which is still painfully relevant today.
What's worth checking out?: I'd go with the movie.