Saturday, April 2, 2011

The Atlas Shrugged Movie and Objectivism: "Winning?"

"Objectivism is winning?" So is Charlie Sheen...

"You'll know Objectivism is winning when ... there is a big demand for the Atlas Shrugged movie." This was in reaction to the headline "Atlas Shrugged Fans Shock Theater Chains."

CULVER CITY, Calif., April 1, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Based on the film's recent fan-based grassroots uprising, "The Strike" Productions today announced it will be expanding the initial release of the Atlas Shrugged movie from 11 markets to over 50.

"AMC called directly to report their online contact system was being hit too hard. They requested we direct traffic to a specific address just to handle the volume," said producer Harmon Kaslow.

"While it's unusual for showtimes to be listed this early, the doors of the exhibitors have been thoroughly beaten down by Ayn's fans. Many of the theaters are now posting showtimes so tickets can be pre-purchased," continued Kaslow. "And, theaters and showtimes are now being reported as sold-out." lists the 7:00pm showing at Regal Cinema's Union Square Theater in New York City as "sold out."

"Our online 'Demand Atlas!' service has been receiving an incredible amount of traffic since launch," said Scott DeSapio, Online Marketing Director of the film. "After toping the charts at another web site as the 'Hottest Demand Worldwide' for more than a week, we decided to build our own in-house 'Demand Atlas!' feature to better service Ayn Rand fans. We're completely blown away by the response."

"Our fans have spoken, and we have directed our booking agents to expand the release of Atlas Shrugged into the major theaters located in more than 80 cities across America," announced Kaslow. "Of course, until we're locked down, fans still need to let us know where the movie should play by coming to our website and demanding Atlas to their city."

"As a direct result of fans in Atlanta demanding Atlas, we immediately set about booking a theater. The current report is that the theater is already sold out for a number of shows on Friday, April 15, 2011 - opening day. We couldn't be more excited." concluded Kaslow.

I've been resolved not to comment on the upcoming movie until I actually see it; there are too many x-factors involved, from being a low-budget movie made to simply hold on to the rights, to the supposed "Roarkian" spark in the producer, for me to speculate on the movie's quality, let alone its cultural impact. That hasn't stopped others, of course. The above line, however, strikes me as the ultimate in high hopes.

Hope floats...

Putting the quality of the movie aside, the above just strikes me as severely naive. In the grand scheme of things, with the election of Obama, the passage of the universal health care law, and the Tea Parties threatened to be usurped by the religious right, this amounts to nothing more than dedicated fans saving their favorite cult T.V. show from cancellation. I've met people with copies of Atlas Shrugged on their a "trophy" piece that's never been read. I've met people who've enjoyed The Fountainhead, but disagreed with the philosophy. Glenn Beck holds up Atlas Shrugged, which challenges 2000 years of Christianity, yet holds on to his Mormon faith. (And let's not forget the hype that surrounded the Fountainhead movie...). If non-Objectivists are forgiven for these things, however, that doesn't explain the Objectivist-minded who clamor for Chris Christie or Donald Trump as president...well, hell, to claim to be an Objectivist is no guarantee of rationality anyway, or even unity; with all the schisms and infighting, and fatwas (and let's not get started on Alan Greenspan), a nation swept up in Atlas fever doesn't necessarily float my hope. (Remember how the people celebrated after Rearden's acquittal in Atlas* (see the comments section), only to turn on him later? It's like that...). Again, Billy Beck's observation of "just how abjectly useless Objectivism has been in this fight" sums it up.

Sigh...I hate to be a killjoy, and just a few years ago, I might have had the same feeling. But to be that naive is to refuse to see just how far things have sunk. Rand's books and ideas have been around so long already, yet the coming civil war in this country is still between the Left and Right, with Objectivists/Libertarians barely a blip on the battlefield. C'mon; the book's been out since 1957, and already listed as the "second most influential book next to the Bible", and we still got Obama. If that didn't do it, are you really gonna bank on a movie premier? (And we all know that the book is usually better than the movie...)

Look, I'd love for this movie to have a major impact, and I'll be happy to be proven wrong. But the idea that somehow Objectivism is winning, whether through a growing awareness or by seeing the statist infrastructure crumble...well, that's a potential, not an actuality, at this point. Objectivism is winning? "Show, don't tell." You won't see it in a cult following for a movie, or in Amazon sales. Don't show me the name brand, show me the results.


  1. From Rearden's acquittal in Atlas Shrugged:

    The judges retired to consider their verdict. They did not stay out long. They returned to an ominously silent courtroom - and announced that a fine of $5,000 was imposed on Henry Rearden, but that the sentence was suspended. Streaks of jeering laughter ran through the applause that swept the courtroom. The applause was aimed at Rearden, the laughter - at the judges.

    Rearden stood motionless, not turning to the crowd, barely hearing the applause. He stood looking at the judges. There was no triumph in his face, no elation, only the still intensity of contemplating the enormity of the smallness of the enemy who was destroying the world. He felt as if, after a journey of years through a landscape of devastation, past the ruins of great factories, the wrecks of powerful engines, the bodies of invincible men, he had come upon the despoiler, expecting to find a giant - and had found a rat eager to scurry for cover at the first sound of a human step. If this is what has beaten us, he thought, the guilt is ours.

    He was jolted back into the courtroom by the people pressing to surround him. He smiled in answer to their smiles, to the frantic tragic eagerness of their faces; there was a touch of sadness in his smile.

    "God bless you, Mr. Rearden!" said an old woman with a ragged shawl over her head. "Can't you save us, Mr. Rearden? They're eating us alive, and it's no use fooling anybody about how it's the rich that they're after - do you know what's happening to us?"

    "Listen, Mr. Rearden," said a man who looked like a factory worker, "it's the rich who're selling us down the river. Tell those wealthy bastards, who're so anxious to give everything away, that when they give away their palaces, they're giving away the skin off our backs." "I know it," said Rearden.

    The guilt is ours, he thought. If we who were the movers, the providers, the benefactors of mankind, were willing to let the brand of evil be stamped upon us and silently to bear punishment for our virtues - what sort of "good" did we expect to triumph in the world? He looked at the people around him. They had cheered him today; they had cheered him by the side of the track of the John Galt Line. But tomorrow they would clamour for a new directive from Wesley Mouch and a free housing project from Orren Boyle, while Boyle's girders collapsed upon their heads. They would do it, because they would be told to forget, as a sin, that which had made them cheer Hank Rearden.

    Why were they ready to renounce their highest moments as a sin? Why were they willing to betray the best within them? What made them believe that this earth was a realm of evil where despair was their natural fate? He could not name the reason, but he know that it had to be named. He felt it as a huge question mark within the courtroom, which it was now his duty to answer.

    This was the real sentence imposed upon him, he thought - to discover what idea, what simple idea available to the simplest man, had made mankind accept the doctrines that led it to self-destruction.

  2. No, objectivism isn't winning. Neither is honesty, ethics, justice, liberty or individualism winning. Sure, these virtues have a small number of advocates, and perhaps their numbers are growing a bit faster than usual in light of the egregious actions of the predators-that-be in the past several years.

    But the predators-that-be dominate. The predator-class dominates. The parasite-class is enormous and growing. And the producer-class is small and dwindling... partly because success has been made so difficult by the endless atrocities of the predators-that-be, partly because production is almost unspoken, unidentified and unglorified today, and partly because many producers aren't willing to risk the time, effort, energy and resources to achieve anything extraordinary, because they know the predators-that-be and their cohorts will likely thwart and destroy their endeavors.

    No, if the current trend towards predatory authoritarianism fails, it will be because the entire system completely collapses and the world enters a free-for-all chaos they cannot control.