Monday, March 14, 2011

Atlas Shrugged: Part I

On Tax Day, fittingly enough, a nearly 40-year saga will come to something of an end with the release of Part I of the three-part film adaptation of Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged. I don't especially care,[1] but Sean Hannity does, and, naturally, he knows what caused the delay:
Hannity: The movie is set to be released next month, something that might never have happened had Hollywood liberals gotten their way.
How can he be so sure? Because shut up, that's how. This is Sean Hannity, who I assume blames liberals when his steak is overcooked.[2] But then he brought out John Stossel for backup:
Stossel: It was hard to get the movie made.
Hannity: That's what I want to ask you next. Why [was there] a 20-year waiting period from the time that somebody bought the rights to this?
Stossel: Hollywood is liberal. They say, "oh, this is this woman who likes capitalism and selfishness. We don't like her." Still, some people signed on. Brad Pitt was interested, Angelina Jolie was going to play Dagny Taggart, but it just—the studios went, "we're not really into that." Finally, a businessman, John Aglialoro, said "I'll spend $10 million of my own money. I'm going to get this made."
So, the essence of the Hannity-Stossel Theorem is that Hollywood is so single-mindedly devoted to liberalism, they've allowed Atlas Shrugged to languish for four decades, devoting their resources instead to liberal propaganda like Red Dawn, The Passion of the Christ, V for Vendetta, and United 93. Not to mention every disaster movie where Americans save the world (i.e. every disaster movie), every movie where government operatives are sinister and/or incompetent (i.e. every movie with government operatives), and the entire contents of any of the myriad lists of "best conservative movies."[3]

But I digress. Getting back to Atlas Shrugged, I like how Stossel emphasizes that a "businessman" stepped in, because who, exactly, does he think runs the movie industry? Was it not businessmen and -women who made almost a billion dollars on a crappy CGI-fest Roger Ebert described as "a horrible experience of unbearable length"? And are they not, therefore, by Randian standards, incredibly good at their jobs?

Absent any actual evidence of an anti-objectivist conspiracy—and I haven't seen any—the idea that "Hollywood" would suppress a project for ideological reasons is absurd. In fact, the movie industry is, by all accounts, relentlessly capitalistic. People want to spend their money on formulaic drivel and mediocre sequels, and that's what the people get. Nobody wants to see a three-part adaptation of a lengthy, thematically-dense work of literature from the 1950s.

Oh, right, nevermind.

Still, Atlas Shrugged's potential to appeal to a large audience—which appears to have increased significantly now that America's gone socialist—isn't the only sticking point. There's also the clash between objectivists' notorious refusal to compromise and movie executives' notorious insistence on messing with everything. And I'd bet studios were (rather understandably) reluctant to commit to a three-part series without first knowing if Part I will have any success.

I'm not trying to argue that studios were right to be skeptical, or that I think the movie will fail.[4] Studios are wrong all the time, and the culprit isn't anti-conservatism or anti-libertarianism—they just aren't immune to bad business decisions.

But why bring capitalism into this?

1. "What the hell?," you're probably thinking. "A libertarian who isn't fanatically devoted to Ayn Rand? You at least like Rush, right?" Um…no comment.
2. He probably also blames immigrants, come to think of it.
3. A lot of surprising movies show up on those lists, but I'm most amused to see Juno, which apparently qualifies because—spoiler alert!—she doesn't have an abortion. Honorable mention goes to 300, which qualifies because it's an allegory for…shit, I don't know. Something to do with America and awesomeness.
4. I think it'll do fine. Libertarians will love it. Conservatives will like it, but some will complain that the film implicitly promotes atheism. Everyone else will find it dull and a little preachy, but not terrible. I predict a Metacritic score of 60. I also predict Sean Hannity will blame every perceived slight—up to and including Atlas Shrugged's inevitable failure to win the Academy Award for Best Picture—on liberals. And maybe immigrants.


  1. oh well...the tea baggers will help employ film crews...the flag burners will help employ flag makers...Khadaffi will help employ Tomahawk makers...Dagny would approve of it all!!!

  2. In my opinion, even if you accepted Ayn Rand's ideology, if you were
    objective about the quality of Atlas Shrugged as good fiction, you
    wouldn't make that book into a movie. The character's are wooden and
    nothing more than puppets that preach Rand's sermon repeatedly. It
    grows really tiresome if you actually try to read the whole book. I
    think a lot of people only read John Galt's unbelieveable long radio

    Who else used to make unbelievable long speechs? I think it was
    Stalin among other Soviet leaders.

  3. All you have written in this blog is nonsense! You and your stupid liberal/libertarian ideology has always been who you are and 'conservatism' driving you away is really a pseudo way of pretending you ever gave a damn of anything conservatism. Spare me your BS. You have no moral compass and are most likely an atheist. Guess what? Although I support some libertarian leans, modern conservatism will have nothing to do with your liberal/libertarian BS either. Libertarians are the biggest sham 3rd party, not one historical significance.