failures art
Reply Mon 18 Apr, 2011 08:10 pm
Thomas wrote:
Failures Art wrote:
Honestly though, what would the the part of his actions that was not directly in line with objectivst principle.
The part where they reject force and fraud?

I don't think the father ever forced her to emancipate.

Fraud is a hard one for me to define in this case. I could go for that on some level, but I viewed his suggestion of emancipation to be more on the line with his penny pinching "your mother is suing me" bit. I can't readily tell from the story by itself if the motive of the father was to push a baby bird out a nest and hope it flies or to protect his own interest given that his ex-wife was suing him for unpaid child support. If the family had stayed together, the question would be, would he have encouraged his daughter to emancipate regardless.

It's hard to say.

Also, I'm not sure emancipating his daughter would constitute fraud. He'd have still lost his case to his ex-wife. Emancipation would have only limited the extent in which he would have to give the wife and it would not be retroactive. The emancipation would have only applied after that point. It benefited him financially. If he was going to take a loss, and he knew it, the question is what would objectivist philosophy say about mitigating versus accepting the loss in full.

I'm no lawyer, but I'm fairly positive his wife would have still had a case for unpaid child support from the point when he quit up until the child's emancipation.

Reply Mon 18 Apr, 2011 10:48 pm
I agree, Pemerson. What I dislike about American Conservatism is its cruelty, not its conservatism. I value continuity and tradition as much I value progressive change and even social experimentation. But I do not view society as a field for brutal competition; I view it as a mechanism for the survival and well-being of cooperating citizens.
Reply Tue 19 Apr, 2011 08:08 am
But I do not view society as a field for brutal competition; I view it as a mechanism for the survival and well-being of cooperating citizens.

Ya damn socialist or commie, whichever is currently deemed worse.

Reply Tue 19 Apr, 2011 08:32 am
How about Democratic Socialist, or advocate-of-a-mixed-economy-with-a-heart? Socialism is not as productive of wealth as capitalism, but it's--at least in principle--far more humane (it's less productive of poverty). It can bring out the best in our humanity, just as capitalism can--again, in principle--bring out the worst. Would you rather live in the wealthiest or the most just of nations?
Reply Tue 19 Apr, 2011 08:55 am
I'm with you, JL, 110%. That was a joke. Each thing you say makes more and more sense.
0 Replies
Reply Tue 19 Apr, 2011 09:07 am
@failures art,
failures art wrote:
Fraud is a hard one for me to define in this case. I could go for that on some level, but I viewed his suggestion of emancipation to be more on the line with his penny pinching "your mother is suing me" bit.

... a move by the mother that he seems to disapprove of. As a a lawyer and consequent Objectivist, shouldn't he have applauded his ex-wife's selfishness?

failures art wrote:
Also, I'm not sure emancipating his daughter would constitute fraud.

He and his new wife flaunted their status as parents to nudge his daughter into taking a loss for his advantage. Granted, it's not a clear-cut case of force or of fraud, but it's close enough to both that a conscientious Objectivist should feel iffy about it.

Talk about conscientious Objectivists: What would Ayn Rand say about this case? By asking this question, you can discover a noteworthy feature of her literary style. Children simply don't occur in prominent roles anywhere in her novels. Neither do any people with medical handicaps that they haven't inflicted on themselves. And why not? As a novel-writer, she gets to make up the facts to which she then applies her supposedly-objectivist philosophy. And it just so happens that if a constellation of facts would challenge the philosophy, it just never happens in her novels. I think that's a trick she learned from Socialist Realism back in Russia. Anna Seghers, a German Socialist Realist, wrote just like that during her East-German years---except that Seghers was a communist, and her novels omitted all plot developments inconvenient to communism.
0 Replies
Reply Tue 19 Apr, 2011 09:58 pm
Yes, the Latest Right-Wing Paean to Sociopath Ayn Rand Is Really, Really Awful
By Brad Reed, AlterNet
Posted on April 18, 2011, Printed on April 19, 2011

The year is 2016. Eight years of Obammunism have transformed the former capitalist paradise known as “America” into a socialistic hellhole where the Dow Jones Industrial average has plummeted to under 4,000 and where oppressed banking CEOs have to walk around with signs reading, “Will trade credit derivatives for food.” America has gotten so desperate that its only hope for salvation lies in the creation of a (shudder) high-speed rail line.

A sane person would not find this a realistic projection of where America is heading -- after all, corporate profits are at record highs, the Dow is back comfortably in the 12,000 range and a Republican congress is insisting we shower the wealthy with still more tax cuts. But then again, the film Atlas Shrugged, Part I is not marketed toward the sane. Rather, it is being pitched to the disciples of Ayn Rand, the sociopathic champion of capitalism who penned three-billion-page novels dedicated to the proposition that selfishness was the world’s greatest virtue.

For the uninitiated, Atlas tells the story of a future oppressive liberal government that chokes off the productivity of strong-headed individualists in the name of equality and fairness. The story’s two protagonists, Dagny Taggart and Henry Reardon, are respectively heads of railroad and steel companies who find their grand ambitions thwarted by the paws of Big Gubmint. Eventually the poor rich people decide to go on strike and retreat to a small-government greedtopia headed up by a reclusive billionaire named John Galt. Without these super-productive rich people keeping the world moving, society proceeds to completely collapse.

You may be wondering what it was that Dagny and Henry were doing prior to the strike that was just so goshed-darned awful that Big Gubmint had to stop them. The answer is they were building the world’s fastest high-speed rail line. Yes, rail. The mode of transportation that has been championed by liberal commie Nazis and that has become the bane of good salt-of-the-earth conservatives everywhere. In reality, of course, a liberal government would be tossing bundles of subsidies at any entrepreneurs building high-speed rail lines in the Western United States but in Randality, these noble entrepreneurs were crushed by the rent-seeking big businesses who used their Washington ties to extinguish the flames of competitive markets.

So okay, we’ve already established that the story has a ludicrous premise, but have the film’s creators managed to make this ludicrous premise into a compelling and entertaining narrative?

In three words: “Oh, hell no.”

Indeed, the film’s major problem is that it adheres too tightly to its source material, making it impossible to create compelling characters. This is because all of Rand’s heroes and heroines are soulless greedbots whose only goals in life are to make great innovations and then profit like crazy off them. In and of itself this isn’t a bad thing since a lot of people like creating things and being rewarded for them. But in the case of Rand’s characters, their desire for money and achievement supersedes all empathy, family relationships and basic human decency. Take Lisa Simpson and combine her with Gordon Gekko and the obnoxious child-android from “Small Wonder,” and you get the perfect Rand hero.

Given this, I was initially prepared to be lenient on lead actors Taylor Schilling and Grant Bowler, who respectively portray Dagny Taggart and Henry Reardon. After all, no actor can give a convincing and emotionally compelling portrayal of a Rand character anymore than they can give a convincing and emotionally compelling portrayal of a stop sign or a potted plant. You can imagine all the times director Paul Johansson had to yell “Cut!” at Schilling and Bowler because they had errantly expressed a feeling.

Even so, one of the very first things that competent directors and actors do with any material is to establish the stakes involved. In other words, when a character says a line such as “There is so much at stake, we have to make it,” it should be delivered with more urgency and intensity than the guy in stoner comedies who asks, “Dude, you got any chips?” Needless to say, the actors failed even this simple test, creating unintentionally hilarious scenes like the one where Bowler tells his lonely socialite wife that “I didn’t come here for sex” in the robotic same tone that the Terminator says “I’ll be back” to his enemies.

And speaking of sex, Taggart and Reardon’s sex scene is unusually awful because we’re watching two characters who haven’t shown any emotions for the film’s first 70 minutes suddenly try to be tender with one another. It’s the equivalent of Emperor Palpatine ambling over to Darth Vader after the two of them just finished slaughtering a room full of Jedi and asking meekly for a hug. The scene isn’t at all helped by the schmaltzy piano-and-strings soundtrack that’s meant to conjure up romantic passion but that seems wildly out of place in a Rand story. In fact, the scene could have come across as more believable if the directors had just decided to play some German industrial metal in the background to let us know that Dagny and Reardon were approaching copulation with the same level of unsentimental brutality that’s helped them succeed in the business world.

Poorly written characters can’t totally doom a film if they’re at least given something interesting to do -- after all, Star Wars fans who suffered through Jar-Jar Binks in The Phantom Menace were at least rewarded with a kick-ass light-saber fight at the end of the film. Unfortunately, the most thrilling conflicts in Atlas Shrugged revolve around disputes over ore shortages and the quality of assorted railroad metals.

And this is the most telling aspect of the film’s greatest failure: That I jumped for joy whenever one of its greedheads decided to drop out of society and head to Galt’s Gulch. Because let’s be honest, would any of us really shed a tear if Donald Trump, Lloyd Blankfein or the Koch brothers decided tomorrow to pull up their stakes and head to the Cayman Islands? If my time here on Earth has shown me anything it’s that even when some greedy assholes drop out of the game there will always be other greedy assholes eager to replace them. Any threats they make on leaving us swarthy looters to our own devices should cause us to collectively shrug.

Brad Reed is a writer living in Boston. His work has previously appeared in the American Prospect Online, and he blogs frequently at Sadly, No!.
failures art
Reply Wed 20 Apr, 2011 01:48 am
That's pretty funny. Maybe I'll go and see it just to see it for lolz.

This is the second Rand book to film. I read this a while back and chuckled:

Huffington Post wrote:
The Insanity of Ayn Rand: The Fountain-Brain-Dead.
by: Tallulah Morehead

Yikes, darlings!

I watch a lot of old movies on TCM, mostly because TCM are my initials. (I'm Tallulah Clytemnestra Morehead) and I just finished watching a doozy of a terrible movie on TCM, one that has to be seen to be disbelieved: the ultra-hilarious piece of right-wing objectivist claptrap, the movie of Ayn Rand's ridiculous novel, The Fountainhead, starring Gary Cooper and Patricia Neal, as glamorous, sexy Fascists, I mean an architect and his best gal.

I'm afraid Juliette's blowing up the H-Bomb on that island on Lost must have screwed up the Time-Space Continuum. This can't be Normal Reality, because this movie is the most absurd piece of twaddle I have sat through since the final season of Roseanne.

Enormously well-hung Gary Cooper plays Howard Roarke, the most brilliant, unpopular, and egotistical architect in the world. The movie is all about how people are always trying to get Howard Roarke to design buildings just like the same ones everyone else designs, but Howard is too great to listen to anyone, even his clients. People are always telling him his designs are too outré, although his houses are all Frank Lloyd Wright rip-offs, and his office buildings are all rectangular glass and steel structures that look exactly like every souless office building clogging the downtowns of every major city in the world, the very style that Jacques Tati spent his great movie Playtime attacking. "We can't take a chance," they always say to him, as though they were gambling their lives building an office tower or a block of flats. Has the designer of Disney Hall in Los Angeles been lynched yet?

The villain of the story is a newspaper architectural critic, who wields tremendous public power. He writes a column of architectural criticism, and his slightest word can bring the city to a halt. What planet is this? When the publisher fires the architectural critic, the staff walks out in support of the critic, and the paper buckles under to the critic, and the publisher shoots himself. Star Trek is more realistic.

Howard does not consider architecture to be a collaborative art. Rather, it's the solitary work of a lone artist, toiling away in an attic somewhere. Making even the tiniest change in any of his designs is intolerable to Roarke.

He means it. When a block of flats he designed are built while he is on a vacation with Patricia Neal, with changes made at the orders of the people paying for it to be built, Roarke dynamites it. He stands trial for blowing up this building he didn't own, in the middle of Manhattan, without so much as a blasting permit. It's a wildly illegal, irresponsible, dangerous, negligent act of overwhelming egotism, an SMD: a Snit of Mass Destruction.

He's found innocent, and the jury and the whole courtroom erupts into applause at this horrific miscarriage of justice. He has admitted committing the crime on the stand. His defense was that he has way better taste than the pigs who paid for it, so he should be able to blow it up. The jury buys this idiocy. The movie paints him as a hero.

The first clue that Howard Roarke has something weirdly wrong with him comes early on. He's going out of business. A friend offers him a loan, and he refuses it. Okay. He has too much pride to take help. That's fine. But he says, "I never ask for nor give help."

What? He never "gives help"? He never helps anyone?

Yup. That's exactly what he means. He's anti-helping his fellow man. In his trial summation, six minutes of Gary Cooper giving a completely unhinged, turgid speech, he actually says, "The world is perishing in an orgy of self-sacrifice ."

Whatever finishes off mankind, it won't be an excess of self-sacrifice. The movie is pro-selfishness and egoism (which is just egotism misspelled), and anti-altruism. It preaches, at length and in a superior tone, that Altruism is Bad. And it means it.

The "love" story subplot is a scream. Patricia Neal is an architect's daughter who hates anything that makes her happy, because her taste is too supurb, and the masses with their bad taste will destroy anything she likes, so she deliberately throws out any stuff she has that she likes (We first meet her dropping a lovely nude statue down an airshaft), and she refuses to marry the man she loves, and instead marries a man she finds creepy, to avoid being happy, so happiness can't be taken from her. She'd rather be miserable, than be happy, and risk being made miserable by the masses. If you can find any sense in that, let me know.

So she's vacationing in a lovely home that adjoins a marble quarry where they dynamite rock all day, every day. Let me repeat this: she is intentionally vacationing in a house next door to a site that is blasting rocks with dynamite all day long, every day. You can't get more relaxing than that.

Her idea of sight-seeing is riding her horse to the quarry and then wandering around, drooling over the hunky, muscular workmen driving pickaxes into walls of granite. This is, in my opinion, the only sensible thing in the whole movie. And her favorite workman is Howard Roarke, who is working there after driving himself out of business with his too-high standards of taste. She first sees him holding a jackhammer, drilling away into into solid rock. She is turned on by the ever-so-subtle sexual implication of his drilling into rock with a jackhammer. She must imagine she has a marble hymen.

Now she can't get him out of her mind. She rides around on her horse, imagining Howard and his drill while she's being jostled in the saddle. At one point she rides up to him and slashes him across the face with a riding crop, which makes him grin, and the unforgettable final shot of the film is her riding up over 100 stories in an outdoor elevator (No elevator can go that far. It takes three to get to the top of the Empire State Building.) to where Howard is standing, on top of his not-yet-finished "Tallest building in the world." The shot tracks in on his crotch as he stands astride his masterpiece, the world's-biggest-phallic symbol.

The movie was written by the novelist-nutball, Russian-American, writer-philosopher Ayn Rand. She promoted a form of highly-anti-communist philosophy called "Objectivism," probably because it is so objectionable.

Being virulently anti-Communism-and-Socialism, she believed that ownership and rights of property were sacrosanct, although when Howard Roarke, her Ideal Man, blows up other people's property because he doesn't like it, it's a righteous act, not a violation of other people's rights of property. Ayn was a hypocrite.

Ayn wrote every word of dialogue, and forbade a word of it to be changed. She was the Howard Roarke of screenwriters. What she was not was a good writer of dialogue, none of which sounds like human speech, and all of which sounds like a lecture from a Fox News lunatic.

Ayn insisted that Gary Cooper say every damn word of her summation speech, which is utterly nuts from beginning to end. Jack Warner, no slouch in the anti-Commie department himself, ended up cutting it down a little. It's still six minutes of Gary Cooper standing in one place, making a completely insane-yet-boring speech, in praise of selfishness, condemning altruism, and stating that there are only two types of humans: "Creators" and "Parasites." That's it. No shades of gray. No middle-management.

When Ayn learned that some slight cuts had been made to her speech, she squawked and hollered, but she did not blow up Warner Brothers, nor set fire to the negative and all prints, nor even beat Jack Warner into paste with a poker (Damn!), which makes her a raging hypocrite. It's what Howard Roarke would have done. It's what Bette Davis would have done.

Ayn is having a small vogue right now (very small, as the country is becoming far less happy with rightwing nutballs), because her magnum opus, Atlas Shrugged, an insane novel that makes The Lord of the Rings seem like a speedy short story, is celebrating its fiftieth anniversary just now. This means that the people who began reading it the day it came out, are nearly through it by now, those that haven't hanged themselves.

Ayn believed in a woman looking up to The Ideal Man, and Howard Roarke is Him. And Ayn claimed she wrote it for Gary Cooper, so he's her sexual ideal. Well, at least she's left Hugh Jackman for me.

Have you ever seen a photograph of Ayn Rand? For a woman who wants strong muscular men to drill her like a jackhammer, Ayn went to a lot of trouble to look like a Bloomsbury literary Lesbian. In fact, she looked rather like a young Rosa Klebb, only not as sexy.

Ayn died the day after John Belushi died, although I don't think she did so to cheer us up again.

Life is too short to spend any of it reading the insane horrors which are the writings of Ayn Rand. Read my book instead.

0 Replies
Reply Fri 22 Apr, 2011 06:15 am
The Truth About GOP Hero Ayn Rand

Ayn Rand -- Russian emigre, founder of the mid-century Objectivist movement, putative philosopher, writer of the novels The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged, and the inspiration for a small but intensely devoted band of acolytes -- has been enjoying a resurgence of late on the American right. The cultural capstone to this resurgence arrived last week with the release of a filmed adaptation of the first third of Atlas Shrugged, independently financed by a wealthy devotee of Rand's work and pitched explicitly at the Tea Party demographic.

FreedomWorks, one of the central organizations in that movement, rolled out a massive campaign to encourage audience attendance and to push the film into as many theaters as possible. The 2011 CPAC conference held the world premiere of Atlas Shrugged's trailer, and the conservative think tank The Heritage Foundation hosted an advanced screening of the film. This marketing tactic is understandable.

The opening line of Atlas Shrugged -- "Who is John Galt?" -- has appeared again and again on signs at Tea Party protests across the nation. The Tea Party builds the theme of "Going Galt" into its rhetoric -- a reference to the strike of industry titans organized by the hero of the novel. Glenn Beck praises Atlas Shrugged regularly on his various shows, and even held a panel dedicated to asking if Rand's fiction is finally becoming reality. The Economist reported several sharp spikes in sales of Atlas Shrugged since 2007. And according to the Ayn Rand Institute, sales of the novel hit an all-time annual record that year, then reached a new record in 2008, with possibly another peak in 2009. By all accounts, Ayn Rand is now one of the central intellectual and cultural inspirations for the base of the Republican Party.

RAND'S INFLUENCE ON GOP: "For over half a century," says Jennifer Burns, a recent biographer of the novelist, "Rand has been the ultimate gateway drug to life on the right." And with good reason. Besides her prominence in the Tea Party's intellectual and cultural lexicon, some of the Republican Party's leading lights have cited Rand by name as an inspiration. Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) said she was the reason he entered public service. Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) called Atlas Shrugged "his foundational book." Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) is an avowed fan and quotes extensively from Rand's novels at Congressional hearings. His father Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) told listeners that readers ate up Rand's Alas Shrugged because "it was telling the truth," and even conservative Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas references her work as influence in his autobiography -- and apparently has his law clerks watch the film adaptation of The Fountainhead.

The phenomenon holds amidst the right-wing media as well: Rush Limbaugh called her "brilliant," Glenn Beck's panel on Rand featured the president of the Ayn Rand Institute Yaroom Brook, and Andrew Napolitano enthusiastically recounted a story in which his college-age self introduces his mother to Rand's The Virtue of Selfishness. John Stossel and Sean Hannity have name-dropped her as well.

Going further back, Alan Greenspan -- former chairman of the Federal Reserve and a fierce advocate of free-market ideology -- is an acolyte of Rand's thinking and knew her personally, and Rand was also dubbed the unofficial "novelist laureate" of the Reagan Administration by Maureen Dowd. Indeed, the most remarkable thing about Ayn Rand's reach on the right is how unremarked-upon it most often is.

RAND'S PHILOSOPHY: The philosophy, such as it was, which Rand laid out in her novels and essays was a frightful concoction of hyper-egotism, power-worship and anarcho-capitalism. She opposed all forms of welfare, unemployment insurance, support for the poor and middle-class, regulation of industry and government provision for roads or other infrastructure. She also insisted that law enforcement, defense and the courts were the only appropriate arenas for government, and that all taxation should be purely voluntary.

Her view of economics starkly divided the world into a contest between "moochers" and "producers," with the small group making up the latter generally composed of the spectacularly wealthy, the successful, and the titans of industry. The "moochers" were more or less everyone else, leading TNR's Jonathan Chait to describe Rand's thinking as a kind of inverted Marxism. Marx considered wealth creation to result solely from the labor of the masses, and viewed the owners of capital and the economic elite to be parasites feeding off that labor. Rand simply reversed that value judgment, applying the role of "parasite" to everyday working people instead. On the level of personal behavior, the heroes in Rand's novels commit borderline rape, blow up buildings, and dynamite oil fields -- actions which Rand portrays as admirable and virtuous fulfillments of the characters' personal will and desires.

Her early diaries gush with admiration for William Hickman, a serial killer who raped and murdered a young girl. Hickman showed no understanding of "the necessity, meaning or importance of other people," a trait Rand apparently found quite admirable. For good measure, Rand dismissed the feminist movement as "false" and "phony," denigrated both Arabs and Native Americans as "savages" (going so far as to say the latter had no rights and that Europeans were right to take North American lands by force) and expressed horror that taxpayer money was being spent on government programs aimed at educating "subnormal children" and helping the handicapped. Needless to say, when Rand told Mike Wallace in 1953 that altruism was evil, that selfishness is a virtue, and that anyone who succumbs to weakness or frailty is unworthy of love, she meant it.

PAUL RYAN'S AYN RAND BUDGET: Given that Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) is the lead architect of the GOP's 2012 budget plan, his own devotion to the ideas of Atlas Shrugged and its author are worth noting. Conservative columnist Ross Douthat has dismissed the connection as Ryan merely saying some "kind words about Ayn Rand," which simply isn't a plausible characterization given what we know: Ryan was a speaker at the Ayn Rand Centenary Conference in 2005, where he described Social Security as a "collectivist system" and cited Rand as his primary inspiration for entering public service.

He has at least two videos on his Facebook page in which he heaps praise on the author. "Ayn Rand, more than anyone else, did a fantastic job of explaining the morality of capitalism, the morality of individualism," he says. All of which reflects a rather more serious devotion than a few mere kind words. So it should come as no surprise that Ryan's plan comports almost perfectly with Rand's world view. He guts Medicare, Medicaid, and a whole host of housing, food, and educational support programs, leaving the country's middle-class and most vulnerable citizens with far less support. Then he uses approximately half of the money freed by those cuts to reduce taxes on the most wealthy Americans. By transforming Medicare into a system of vouchers whose value increases at the rate of inflation, he undoes Medicare's most humane feature -- the shouldering of risk at the social level -- and leaves individuals and seniors to shoulder ever greater amounts of risk on their own. But if your intellectual and moral lodestar is a woman who railed against altruism as "evil" and considered the small pockets of highly successful individuals to be morally superior, it's a perfectly logical plan to put forward.
0 Replies
Reply Tue 26 Apr, 2011 06:53 am
Ayn Rand Movie Fails in Free Market (Despite Tea Party Hype)
By Mark Howard, News Corpse
April 21, 2011

The film version of Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand’s soporific paean to malevolent ego-centrism, has finally been released to the throngs of slobbering Tea Baggers desperate for some cinematic validation. Sadly for these pathetic flim(flam) buffs, this flick hardly fills the void in their lost souls.

The movie is being released as “Part 1″ with the promise of two more in the unlikely event that this one turns a profit. But the circumstances of its production foretell its dreary fate. Producer John Aglialoro has stated publicly that he was forced to commence production a few days short of the expiration of his rights to the book. As a result it was hurried into production without a script or a cast. He also admitted that casting was difficult because “Talent agencies were not sending us many of their top people.” Apparently no one of note wanted to be associated with a project that had been aborted on numerous occasions. That’s why one of the most popular books of the last half century is coming to the screen with unknown TV talent in the leads. The director complained that he didn’t have the necessary time to make the movie he wanted to make. It’s almost as if the principals are preemptively making excuses for why the movie sucks so bad. And they aren’t the the only ones who think so.

The reviews have been merciless:

Roger Ebert: “The most anticlimactic non-event since Geraldo Rivera broke into Al Capone’s vault. I suspect only someone very familiar with Rand’s 1957 novel could understand the film at all, and I doubt they will be happy with it.”

Joe Morgenstern, Wall Street Journal: “The book was published in 1957, yet the clumsiness of this production makes it seem antediluvian.”

Bill Goodykoontz, Arizona Republic: “It has taken decades to bring Ayn Rand’s ‘Atlas Shrugged’ to the big screen. They should have waited longer.”

Kurt Loder, Reason Online: “The new, long-awaited film version of Atlas Shrugged is a mess, full of embalmed talk, enervated performances, impoverished effects, and cinematography that would barely pass muster in a TV show. Sitting through this picture is like watching early rehearsals of a stage play that’s clearly doomed.”

Peter Dubruge, Variety: “Part one of a trilogy that may never see completion, this hasty, low-budget adaptation would have Ayn Rand spinning in her grave.”

Washington Post: “Nearly as stilted, didactic and simplistic as Rand’s free-market fable.”

Some of the most damning criticism highlighted above comes from those who might otherwise be considered the film’s target audience, for instance the Wall Street Journal (Fox’s newsprint cousin) and Reason Magazine (the imprint of Randian Libertarianism).

From the start the film’s prospects were dim. It was an independent with little backing and decades of false starts. In order to preserve his rights, Aglialoro bankrolled the project with $10 million of his own money. Without a heavyweight distributor they had to be creative. So they hit up the Tea Party circuit for support.

A trailer for the film debuted at the Conservative Political Action Conference in February. It was screened for such cultural tastemakers as John Boehner, and Andrew Breitbart (yes, that was sarcasm). Then they brought in the big guns: FreedomWorks, the AstroTurf Tea Party organizers sponsored by the billionaire Koch brothers. Matt Kibbe, the president and CEO of FreedomWorks went to work promoting the film via his Freedom Connector social network (which has been prominently plugged by Glenn Beck), and a massive email list. It doesn’t appear to have worked.

The boxoffice for the opening weekend, timed to coincide with the federal tax filing deadline, was middling at best. The movie pulled in $1.7 million for three days from 300 screens. The take dropped nearly 50% from Friday to Sunday, which doesn’t bode well for increasing the number of screens in the weeks ahead (and the universally dreadful reviews won’t help either). The filmmakers are already touting the per-screen attendance numbers, but what they fail to acknowledge is that per-screen sales are generally higher for limited releases because more people are funneled into fewer venues.

The truth is that the Tea Party marketing has been less than spectacular (perhaps because the Tea Party doesn’t actually exist). If FreedomWorks has a couple of million people on their mailing list and all of the film’s viewers were FreedomWorkers (not likely), then 90% of their supporters ignored the call to action. The weak turnout by the Tea Party set mirrors their weakness at the annual Tax Day rallies where mere dozens bothered to show up.

The affinity for Ayn Rand by the Tea Party has always been a bit of a mystery. Sure, there is a shared hostility for government, particularly when it endeavors to fulfill its Constitutional obligation to provide for the general welfare. Both Rand and the TP’s despise efforts to aid society’s less fortunate, whom they believe deserve to suffer. But how do predominantly Christian, patriot, Tea Partyers justify their idolization of an anti-American, atheist who regards compassion as evil and selfishness as the pinnacle of human values?

Ironically, a key theme of the book and the film is the rejection of society by the wealthy business class who mysteriously disappear. There is a correlation to that plot point in contemporary America as we have already witnessed the disappearance of business luminaries like Bernie Madoff, Ken Lay, Jack Abramoff, Dennis Kozlowski, Bernard Ebbers, and John Rigas, to name a few. It doesn’t appear that society has suffered from their absence. Yet there is another industrial titan who not only hasn’t vanished, he is masquerading across the airwaves as a presidential candidate. I’m not sure Ayn Rand would approve of this, however, the popularity of Donald Trump at Tea Parties is perfectly understandable. He is the ultimate manifestation of Randian politics: a greedy, conceited, selfish bully. But for every Tea Party supporter there are probably twenty other Americans who wish that Trump would “go Galt.”

There is another curious irony in the marketing strategy for the film. Tea Partyers and other Rand fans were furiously emailing appeals to their friends and Facebook buddies to implore them to see the movie -- not because they considered it great cinema, they hadn’t seen it yet -- but because strong ticket sales would somehow validate the book’s principles. In Rand’s world money equals truth. They regard the quality of the film as secondary to the need for box office success in order to advance their agenda and to prove the power of the Tea Party as a consumer/political force. In other words, these Utopian free marketeers were afraid to trust the free market to decide the film’s fate.

Alas for them, it will anyway. And in the end, all anyone will remember of this drivel is that, when moviegoers were presented with a poorly planned, shoddily executed load of dreck, the audience shrugged.

This is far more entertaining:
Mark Howard is an artist and author and the publisher of News Corpse. His political and socially disruptive artwork has been displayed internationally.
0 Replies
Reply Tue 26 Apr, 2011 02:06 pm
Looking at the Washington Posts current top-20 movies almost makes me sorry for Objetivists. This can't be profitable. But sorrow is unselfish, so what would be the point?
1. “Rio,” Fox, $26,323,321, 3,842 locations, $6,851 average, $80,806,562, two weeks.

2. “Tyler Perry’s Madea’s Big Happy Family,” Lionsgate, $25,068,677, 2,288 locations, $10,957 average, $25,068,677, one week.

3. “Water For Elephants,” Fox, $16,842,353, 2,817 locations, $5,979 average, $16,842,353, one week.

4. “Hop,” Universal, $12,185,905, 3,616 locations, $3,370 average, $100,224,905, four weeks.

5. “Scream 4,” Weinstein Co., $7,030,747, 3,314 locations, $2,122 average, $31,035,010, two weeks.

6. “African Cats,” Disney, $6,003,200, 1,220 locations, $4,921 average, $6,003,200, one week.

7. “Soul Surfer,” Sony, $5,436,868, 2,240 locations, $2,427 average, $28,502,151, three weeks.

8. “Hanna,” Focus, $5,276,801, 2,384 locations, $2,213 average, $31,717,987, three weeks.

9. “Insidious,” Film District, $5,207,622, 2,130 locations, $2,445 average, $44,001,416, four weeks.

10. “Source Code,” Summit, $5,091,347, 2,363 locations, $2,155 average, $44,692,591, four weeks.

11. “Arthur,” Warner Bros., $4,066,109, 2,770 locations, $1,468 average, $29,216,091, three weeks.

12. “Limitless,” Relativity Media, $2,664,461, 1,363 locations, $1,955 average, $74,002,055, six weeks.

13. “The Conspirator,” Roadside Attractions, $2,190,440, 849 locations, $2,580 average, $6,893,123, two weeks.

14. “The Lincoln Lawyer,” Lionsgate, $1,789,519, 1,220 locations, $1,467 average, $53,381,451, six weeks.

15. “Your Highness,” Universal, $1,706,590, 1,610 locations, $1,060 average, $19,764,545, three weeks.

16. “Win Win,” Fox Searchlight, $1,107,961, 388 locations, $2,856 average, $6,630,650, six weeks.

17. “Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules,” Fox, $933,540, 928 locations, $1,006 average, $50,290,531, five weeks.

18. “Atlas Shrugged: Part 1,” Rocky Mountain Pictures, $881,034, 465 locations, $1,895 average, $3,096,815, two weeks.

19. “Jane Eyre,” Focus, $782,372, 319 locations, $2,453 average, $7,913,203, seven weeks.

20. “Born to be Wild,” Warner Bros., $652,739, 208 locations, $3,138 average, $3,075,211, three weeks.

Source: Washington Post
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Reply Fri 29 Apr, 2011 12:49 pm
Just took a course on Revit Architecture. I could do a 10 storey building in 2 or 3 days. Fantastic software. No need to idolize Howard Roark.
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