Atlas Shrugged, Part I


“Critics, you won,” said John Aglialoro, the businessman who spent 18 years and more than $20 million of his own money to make, distribute and market “Atlas Shrugged: Part 1,” which covers the first third of Rand’s dystopian novel. “I’m having deep second thoughts on why I should do Part 2.”

No, I think it’s “Audience, you won.” 

I read Atlas Shrugged when I was in my 20s.  It was slow going but I persevered.   I didn’t think the writing was great; I got tired of the speechifying, and I knew pretty early that there was something really wrong there,  but I loved Rheardon Metal, and I thought I was Dagny Taggert; a calm clear-eyed heroine surrounded by incompetents who couldn’t see my gently shining genius.  It wasn’t until Taggert’s sister-in-law killed herself that I began to get a handle on things. Then I had the same problem most people have with Rand; if you follow her philosophy to its reasonable conclusion, it is adolescent selfishness and nothing more.  No, wait.  That isn’t fair.  That’s rude to adolescents.

Rand’s brilliant strong beautiful independent clear-eyed powerful interesting  characters take credit for everything.  They are above the rest of us, we sheep, even though they do apparently make mistakes, like marry the wrong people.  When they have affairs, then, it’s with others like them.  That’s not their fault.  It’s the sheep’s fault for being sheep.

I still wanted to be those people. I wanted to take credit, to be extolled for my brilliance, my wit, by terrifying strength and competence.  I didn’t really understand, until Dagny’ sister-in-law ran off the edge of the building, that Galt and his band of ubermenchen were mannequins; that Dagny was as much a wish-fulfillment character as any breathless maiden in a bodice-ripper romance novel; that, in fact, it was a romance novel, if a toxic one. 

This is exactly how the GOP sells its brand to the very people who should join a union and demonstrate against Wall Street banks; by serving up a  broth of wealth fantasy/vengeance fantasy/romantic fantasy.  Some day I’ll be the rich one.  Some day I’ll show them.  Some day that will be me, my “elegant legs” slanting away under my perfectly fitted gray suit, with that rich, powerful handsome man staring at me, panting with desire.  Yes, that’s how my life will be someday, not like it is today.

I didn’t know there was a movie until I saw that quote on Wonkette.  Then I read some of the reviews on Rotten Tomatoes.  $20 million is a high price-tag for a vanity project.  It seems as if Mr Algialoro should have invested in some actual writers, and maybe a director and some actors.

And really, with a built in Tea Party audience you couldn’t sell this, Mr. A?  Your problem was not the critics.

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