Rightbloggers on Atlas Shrugged: It's the Feel-Good, Piece-of-Crap Movie of the Year!

tomt200.jpgWhen best-selling books like The DaVinci Code or the Twilight series become movies, their fans take to the internet to share their excitement. They argue over the film's fidelity to their favorite characters and scenes, and revel in their love-object's moment in the cinematic sun.

So too it has been with Atlas Shrugged: Part 1, the new film based on the first million or so words in Ayn Rand's popular 1957 novel, which opened Friday.

But in this case the fans include rightbloggers, which has turned the conversation a little weird. Like traditional fanboys, they're obsessed with the new version; but unlike, say, devotees of The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet's Nest, they believe anyone who doesn't like it is trying to destroy America.

Perhaps sensing that general audiences might not flock to a movie about the evils of collectivism, the film's producers have cleverly cultivated a conservative audience, debuting the Atlas Shrugged trailer at the Conservative Political Action Conference and working with tea party and libertarian groups to get the word out.

So the brethren were fired up before the lights dimmed, and rightbloggers mostly told them that Atlas Shrugged was a must-see, whether or not they thought it was any good as, you know, a movie.

There were some old-fashioned staples of film fandom in the rightblogger colloquy, such as arguments over casting: While Right Celebrity found Taylor Schilling as Dagny Taggart only "so-so," for example, Stephen Bourque of One Reality found Schilling "quite good-looking in exactly the same way that I've always imagined. She has really terrific legs, too, which did not fall short of my mental picture. (However shallow or superficial that observation may seem, I insist upon its importance in the character.)"

"After 1,050 pages I read all those years ago, I can't recall what exactly the book said about [Taggart's] appearance," said Morgan Freeberg at Right Wing News. "My mind's-eye got all busy with it and churned out something resembling the graphic you see to the right, of a typical librarian icon image, light on the implied fetishism..." Um, we'll stop there.

But much of their commentary took a beleaguered, defensive tone. No wonder: The film has gotten mostly horrible reviews, not just from traditional critics like Roger Ebert, but also from conservative writers like P.J. O'Rourke and Megan McArdle -- though O'Rourke and McArdle made sure to add that they admire Rand and were merely protesting this shoddy representation of her work. (Oh, we've seen the film, too; it stinks.)

Aware of the negative consensus, some rightbloggers insisted that these so-called critics could not be trusted because they are elitist and leftwing.

"The reviews that I'd read by the so-called professionals who review movies, panned it," said Diary of a Mad Conservative. "The dialog was contrived, they said... Yadda yadda yadda: elite critiques from the nose in the air 'professionals'... They don't live in the same world that I do so they have no basis to make judgements for me."

Diary of a Mad Conservative then offered his own, non-professional opinion: "I've seen lots worse out of the mega Hollywood studios (I walked out of Independence Day- it so sucked.)"

atlastwoshot.jpg
"You're looking particularly productive tonight, Dagny." "I should -- I rinsed my hair in the tears of union parasites."
"I'm shocked, SHOCKED to find out that the (typically leftist, Obama loving, America hating Michael Moore / Sean Penn praising) movie reviewers are panning the new movie, 'Atlas Shrugged'!!" cried Schteveo of Little Annie's Orphans. He was just being sarcastic, though; he knew why critics disapproved: "It's about INDIVIDUALS working for their own best interest. It's about government getting it's foot OFF the neck of the producers." And you know if there's anything film critics hate it's producers -- look how they treated Darryl Zanuck!

"But face it, in real life, most 'mainstream movie critics' believe rich industrialists need to be punished and taxed to curb their 'greed,' so they're offended by this movie's themes," said Vin Suprynowicz of the Las Vegas Review-Journal, who neglected to tell us how he knew this (maybe the Review-Journal has an investigative report which is currently offline).

"I'm waiting," he added, "for the first socialist professional movie critic [voted for Obama, believes we need to 'raise taxes on the rich to make them pay their fair share'] to admit they hate the political and economic THEME of this movie and therefore can't render objective advice." Perhaps Suprynowicz should send James O'Keefe to the offices of the National Socialist Film Critics Society to do an undercover sting.

"My movie going friends all know that stellar critical reviews are the kiss of death," said Foxs News. "If you see a movie with great critical reviews, it might still be worth watching, but best to read the reviews by blogers, because they are a bit more trustworthy." Q.E.D.

Foxs News also claimed that "the media's anti-business bigotry" keeps films from being made by "independent film makers who do not produce drek with a liberal bias," and the public thus "suffers by having to put up with second rate movies, since the best talent is selected against, in favor of those stupid enough to be socialists or soulless enough to pretend to be." We've been waiting years for that explanation of the Fast and the Furious series.

"Even if the critics are using elements of truth in their reviews, could they really be trusted?" asked lygris of Rots Your Brain. "In the book, Ayn Rand mentioned how at least one journalist was smearing the main character Hank Rearden." Another Rand prophecy fulfilled!

Kushal of Unspoken Words attacked one such looter-critic, Mark Jenkins of the Washington Post, whose review also disparaged Rand: "Huh, so Mr. Jenkins doesn't like the movie because it's like the book," Kushal said. "But that confuses me. Why did he go to watch the movie if he doesn't like the book?" Our wild guess is that seeing new movies is part of Jenkins' job.

Having thus steeled their brothers and sisters against the Ellsworth Tooheys of the Left, many of the brethren offered their own boffo raves, some of which were suitable for movie ad pull-quotes:

"Wonderful and true to the book except that the setting of the movie is in 2016... The theater was filled mostly with people over thirty who probably all have read the book several times in their lives." -- airfredd2, RedState.

"Those used to having less certainty and more nuance in film characters will feel out of place, perhaps, but don't confuse this with cardboard characterizations..." -- Ed Morrissey, Hot Air.

"Despite the obstacles of a small budget and a cast of no-name actors, Atlas Shrugged deserves more notoriety than it will receive." -- Jason Pye.

"The two people [I went with] who never read the book found the movie to be interesting but somewhat tough to follow." -- Rhino-itall, The Aurora.

Those who couldn't bring themselves to praise the movie insisted that it was still a triumph because it brought the Ayn Rand gospel to the benighted sheeple.

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258 comments
L.R.
L.R.

The beginning of mental cancer and a subscription to "satan weekly" is believing that the mouth is more important than the ass, when in truth they are helping do the same job, sustain life. The human body is a system, like earth, like economics, the very second you take a dump on the heart and promote selfish behaivior, you are a weed, a tare (in the words of JESUS), cancer. You are no longer in the "Matrix" but have exhalted yourself to the point of demi-god, when the truth is you are nothing. You didn't creat the metal, you didn't grow the food and you used your life to pump up your ego and step on the people that you had an obligation to help. This idea that "great minds" should be paid as such is the "selfish gene" mentality that Jeffrey Skilling instilled into his wolves at Enron and they ate him alive. You can breed that kind of evil and hope to contain it, the dark has a hunger that can't be tamed, it destroys light, love, everything. Never loose sight of the founding pricipals. To be sure, I hated this book, hated the movie, and I really HATE the mentallity that creats it. And of course, what is the pay off? Atlantis? Are you "bleeping" kidding me, these jerks fell for lucifers lie? "If your just selfish enough, you get to come to the place where we reward selfishness FOREVER", that place is hell, btw.

Commercial playgroundequipment
Commercial playgroundequipment

Your right, Buck, and good thing your tire of the shrill, and not addicted to you're own self righteous coolaid. As you know, none of us progressives work for a living; us moochers just sit in our drum circles and complain how you needs to be taxed to pay for our welfare checks and food stamps. Thank Rand that evil rich like you are busy innovating, employing, and growing or we would not be able to afford our tankards of class envy.

Wanda
Wanda

Who really cares what a LIBTARD thinks you don't know good from bad in fact everything is bad for you

WJBIII
WJBIII

Dobby: another satisfied customer.

Splendid.

WJBIII
WJBIII

"I know what Galt's speech is for."

No, you don't, and it's terribly unfortunate that you're having the flaps over it, but you don't matter.

Have an ice day.

Matt Jones
Matt Jones

So lemme get this straight: the Randroids go to see a movie that even most of them don't actually find enjoyable in order to "send a message". Sounds awfully ALTRUISTIC, doesn't it? ;)

deacrick
deacrick

If only the would go Galt; pack up and leave.

Billy Beck
Billy Beck

nullifidian: "Why should I..."

In order to know what you're talking about. That's why.

"...when I've read enough of her..."

Not in order to address the matter at hand (the comprehensive statement comprised in the sixty-page speech that makes your pussy hurt), you haven't.

"I know they're my words. I typed them."

...and tried to bill them to *me* ("I'm not sure why you want to make Rand's 'thought'..."), you crummy lying piece of shit. I see you.

"Actually, the question mark rather gave it away as an interrogative."

Then that only points out that you're stupid, too, because I never told you to do anything. I asked you a question.

Billy Beck
Billy Beck

"You're the one who wants a comprehensive statement of philosophies."

Actually, in this context; no. In fact, the first six or eight times I ever read "Atlas" (since the early 70's), I never read that speech, because I never read that book until I'd already grasped the non-fiction. I knew the material. And if you could keep track of the discussion, you'd realize that I pointed it out in contrast to "Goethe, Hesse, Camus, and Dreiser."

It's cool. CliffsNotes can definitely help you fake it.

Billy Beck
Billy Beck

nullifidian: "I direct you again to Goethe, Hesse, Camus, and Dreiser, who managed to create deep characters who underwent profound philosophical realizations without babbling on uninterrupted for sixty pages."

Not one of those writers ever included a comprehensive statement of their philosophies in any of their novels. Now, you don't have to *like* it, and you can even call it "babbling" because your pussy hurts, but it's manifestly evident to me that you have about half a clue to what you're moaning about.

Why don't you sit down and shut the fuck up?

tmc
tmc

"dismayingly reminiscent of the old Soviet attitude toward art -- that its primary importance is to advance a political agenda"

I'm dismayed that you believe the ("old") Soviets were into pluralism.

Billy Beck
Billy Beck

"Because political activism is why we go to the movies."

(picks up dart, closes eyes, fires at random...)

I give you, "Erin Brockovich". Thanx for playing. You can pick up your lovely parting boot-in-the-ass at the door, and shut up now.

Money money money
Money money money

I know Atlas Shrugged is a fairy tale, but jesus, that's not how capitalism works!

nullifidian
nullifidian

"'It must be seen,' declared Survive December 2012. 'It must be understood. This movie is about today. I implore each of you to take a friend to this movie and understand the message.'"

I feel a flood of contentment knowing that I don't have any Objectivist friends.

Orphan
Orphan

It's always amusing how irate people get over literature which is supposedly so bad nobody could possibly read it. Ah, vitriol, thy name is envy.

none
none

@Wanda My God woman!  Do you not know how to use punctuation in a sentence?!!  

Leeds man
Leeds man

Somebody's been practicing her debating skills.

Leeds man
Leeds man

No, you don't, and it's terribly unfortunate that you're having the flaps over it, but you don't matter.

The Emperor struts in, dick swinging, to tell us we have no fashion sense.

nullifidian
nullifidian

"No, you don't...."

Then kindly explain where I have gone wrong *with specific quotes and citations back to the work itself*. I have a copy of the book and will be able to follow along. But merely asserting that I am wrong is not going to change my mind.

Angela Garcia as NeonMosfet
Angela Garcia as NeonMosfet

Not altruistic. More like de rigueur. As in no pate' for you even if you choke it down so toute le monde peut a voir que vous manger. Or they don't want to read the book.

Angela Garcia as NeonMosfet

Dobby
Dobby

It's a good thing you linked to your website. At least we know we're dealing with a pseudo-intellectual who has the super-annuated hippie look down pat. If you were such a successful capitalist, I think you'd at least be able to afford a decent shirt. And the gold chains? Compensation much?

In any event, it's funny how the one philosopher you pointedly avoid is Nietzsche. As in: the guy who Rand ripped off -- poorly.

nullifidian
nullifidian

Me, previously:"...when I've read enough of her..."

Billy the Misogynistic Ass:"Not in order to address the matter at hand (the comprehensive statement comprised in the sixty-page speech that makes your pussy hurt), you haven't."

You are a complete moron, and curiously enough I don't even mean that as an insult. It is my quite honest appraisal of your intellectual capacity.

If Galt's speech is comprehensive, and I've read it, which I did when I read the rest of AS, then I *have* read enough not only to address the matter at hand, but Rand's entire philosophy. That's what comprehensive means. If I need to read something *else* to address the subject of Galt's speech, then the speech itself cannot be the comprehensive statement of anything. Congratulations on scoring an own-goal.

You know, all your bluster in this comment thread does rather make it look as if you have *nothing* you want to discuss with me out of Galt's interminable speech, but you're pissed off at me for making light of it, and you're desperately trying to vamp it until you can withdraw with the sense of having won.

So to save us both a little time, I'm asking you now:What is it in Galt's speech that I am supposedly not understanding?

Which aspect of it would you like me to address?

Please be specific, and provide a quote and page number. Telling me to address how Galt 'proves' that "CAPITALISM IS SOOOOOO AWESOME!!!!1111!!!ONE" isn't going to do much to impress anybody.

Leeds man
Leeds man

makes your pussy hurt...you crummy lying piece of shit...you're stupid

I think Billy needs a time-out or a nap.

Leeds man
Leeds man

And if you could keep track of the discussion

Impossible. You wandered off the track a day or so ago for a dump, and seem to have been thrashing around in the bush ever since.

nullifidian
nullifidian

"Not one of those writers ever included a comprehensive statement of their philosophies in any of their novels."

Neither did Ayn Rand. There are elements of her 'philosophy', particularly her 'aesthetic philosophy' (to the extent that "If I don't like it, it suxxorz" is an aesthetic philosophy) which are not covered in AS. I'm not sure why you want to make Rand's 'thought' appear so superficial that it can be encompassed by a single novel. Granted, it is very superficial, but not superficial to quite that degree.

"Now, you don't have to *like* it, and you can even call it "babbling" because your pussy hurts,"

Actually, both of my cats are in the very pink of health, and that has nothing to do with Ayn Rand's clanging awfulness as a writer.

"but it's manifestly evident to me that you have about half a clue to what you're moaning about."

Then by all means, show me where I have gone wrong. I have a copy of "Atlas Shrugged" here (it might amuse you to know that it's even a first edition, though a paperback one) and I can cross-check what you say with her writing, if you'll just provide me with specific citations to the quote and page.

"Why don't you sit down and shut the fuck up?"

Among other reasons, because I have absolutely no respect for your opinion, and feel no particular burden to do what you tell me.

Leeds man
Leeds man

Not one of those writers ever included a comprehensive statement of their philosophies in any of their novels.

That's what CliffsNotes are for.

Why don't you sit down and shut the fuck up?

Can't help but think of Elisha Cook, Jr's character Wilmer in The Maltese Falcon.

Wilmer Cook: Keep on riding me and they're gonna be picking iron out of your liver.Sam Spade: The cheaper the crook, the gaudier the patter.

zuzu
zuzu

To use a line from a movie, "They're called boobs, Ed."

Leeds man
Leeds man

Keep working at it Billy, and you might actually figure out the concept of the counter-example. I'm not holding my breath.

There are political movies, but for them to be worth seeing (for most people), there has to be a little something more than politics. Human characters, decent scripts, interesting stories, maybe a bit of realism for those so inclined. Those sorts of things. See how that works?

In the meantime, if anyone gets within boot range of Billy, watch your elbows!

nullifidian
nullifidian

So people only went to see "Erin Brockovich" because of a commitment to liberal political activism? Then you had better give up now, because liberals outnumber you and you'll never win. "Atlas Shrugged" couldn't break $2 million its first three days, and appears as if it will never make back its investment, whereas "Erin Brockovich" grossed $256,271,286 on a budget of $50 million.

People liked "Erin Brockovich" because it was a good movie. It had great critical buzz and boffo box office. (Incidentally, it was given two out of four stars by Roger Ebert and panned in the New York Times. So much for the hive mind of the so-called 'liberal mainstream media'.) One doesn't even have to agree that there was merit in the class action lawsuit being dramatized to think it was a good movie. I enjoyed the hell out of it, but I think PG&E might have won if they had resisted the temptation to cover their butts by destroying evidence. They probably had some internal memos with hedging language that the dangers of ingested hexavalent chromium were not yet established, and could prove to be serious. If they had produced it at trial, they would have simply had a hypothetical admission which would have been less damaging than the cover-up. They also didn't do themselves any favors by misleading people about the issue, claiming that chromium was an ingredient in many vitamins (it is, but trivalent chromium, not hexavalent chromium, which wouldn't be in vitamins for the risk that particles of it could be inhaled).

Really, if this is your best shot, it's woefully wide of the mark, and suggests exactly what Roy Edroso was saying: your primary way of looking at film is for its ideological conformity to your position, and not whether or not it's a good flick.

nullifidian
nullifidian

I wish it were so bad that one couldn't possibly read it. Unfortunately, I know from personal experience that it's not. It is, however, bad enough to be the worst novel I've ever read. If I hadn't gone on a three-day trip with just that book to entertain me (boy, was I naive!), I probably wouldn't have finished it at all.

It was so unremittingly awful that afterward I immediately changed the way I read so that I was never without at least two books at any one time. I would *never* again risk the chance of being stuck with an execrable book and nothing else to substitute for it.

Atticus Dogsbody
Atticus Dogsbody

The only people who are getting irate are the objectiliberwingnutards who can't stand the insouciant looters and moochers taking the piss out of the eminently piss takeable objects of their worship. Ah, envy, thy name is Ayn.

Billy Beck
Billy Beck

Look: whether my style appeals to you is perfectly irrelevant, so eat a bag of dicks, okay? And I never wear gold: they're silver, idiot.

And I have the entire Nietzsche corpus annotated on my shelves. If you think you have a case to make, then get to work.

Billy Beck
Billy Beck

"...then I *have* read enough not only to address the matter at hand..."

Uhm, no. "The matter at hand" this constant sniveling over Galt's Speech, by people too fucking lame to understand what they're seeing.

"What is it in Galt's speech that I am supposedly not understanding?"

What it's *for*, kid.

Billy Beck
Billy Beck

Yeah, well, that's what you think.

Billy Beck
Billy Beck

"Neither did Ayn Rand."

Yes, she did, dummy. Go read her journal on the matter.

"I'm not sure why you want to make Rand's 'thought' appear so superficial that it can be encompassed by a single novel."

Hey, kid: those are *your* words. Not mine. You're kinda new at this, aren't you? You see...

"Among other reasons, because I have absolutely no respect for your opinion, and feel no particular burden to do what you tell me."

...that was an interrogative of mine, and you didn't know that.

What, exactly, would it take to gain your respect, and what do you think it counts for?

Billy Beck
Billy Beck

"That's what CliffsNotes are for."

Ah. The inevitable confession.

Thanx for playing.

Billy Beck
Billy Beck

"So people only went to see 'Erin Brockovich' because of a commitment to liberal political activism?"

Any more than political activism was the exclusive reason why people go see "Atlas"? {shrug} I dunno. You tell me. I do know the "liberal political activism" that I've seen in American cinema over the past forty years or so, however. Like I originally posted; it was a blindfolded dart-shot, but I'll tell you what; before I don me specs and and start pointing out The Big Picture with resort to the whole catalog, I might suggest plugging "Erin Brockovich political activism" into Google and observing some of the 45,000 hits. Naturally, of course, this sort of thing easily devolves to argument-from-authority cite-fights, but look here; it really wouldn't do to try to wave-away decades of lefty horseshit coming out of Hollywood. So... what's Edroso's complaint, again?

Orphan
Orphan

So you didn't like the book, congratulations. Do you want a medal for reading it or something?

Y'know, I'm not particularly fond of The Awakening by Kate Chopin - I would actually describe it as being so bad it really -is- unreadable, as I find the nutritional content on cans of tuna more intellectually stimulating - but I don't go around looking for people praising it and mock them for liking a bad book, nor do I dismiss the women's liberation movement because one of the seminal books (or is it an ovulatory book? HA I made a funny) isn't to my liking.

You want to dislike the book? You're free to. But see, if that's all there was to it, you'd just dislike the book, and move on, unless you're crazy, which I don't exempt the possibility of.

So what drives you crazy? That other people might have different tastes in literature than you? That other people god forbid might have different philosophies than you? Or is it that the book continues to be quite popular some fifty years later in spite of your claims that it has no literary merit and that right wing ideas aren't marketable? (I'm curious to know when libertarianism became right wing, but hey, if progressives want to set the left up as authoritarian, I guess they're free to.)

Does the huge financial success of Passion of the Christ drive you insane? (It isn't a right-wing flick either, but I suspect you, like most progressives, prefer to gloss over the left's own heavy Christian leanings) What about Fox News, which the left loves to claim is just right-wing propaganda, and yet is the most popular news network?

Actually, on that note, tell me, how DO you reconcile these ideas: the idea that Fox News is a massive commercial success, the idea that Fox News is right-wing propaganda, the idea that Atlas Shrugged is right-wing propaganda, and the idea that Atlas Shrugged is right-wing propaganda and therefore doomed to commercial failure?

Orphan
Orphan

Uh huh. Which is why you feel the need to say how irate they are while insulting them. "Oh those evil Objectivist-libertarian (you're redundant at this point but who is keeping count) wing nuts (generally used to refer to conservatives, can't even keep your ideological enemies straight, huh?) and retards!" (That doesn't sound very politically correct, on top of being a playground insult.)

Speaking of insults, I'm better at it than you.

Speaking of retards, I notice your grammar and spelling aren't out of place among the other commentators here, your Word of the Days aside.

Dobby
Dobby

Calling what you have "style" is like calling Objectivism "philosophy." But what can you do? Pretend I'm a teenage boy who you let into your home before pulling a gun on him (groups.google[dot]com/group/alt.society.liberalism/msg/fb848bd4811c8684?dmode=source)?

Dobby
Dobby

I guess that's a "style" like Objectivism is a "philosophy." I'd lose the tough-guy act, unless you think I'm some teenager you can let into your house and then pull a gun on (http://groups.google.com/group....

nullifidian
nullifidian

I know what Galt's speech is for. It was written by a polemicist who didn't know when to shut up, so she thought the audience needed to have a sixty-page speech forced on them to reiterate the same points she'd been banging away at with a hammer throughout the previous thousand pages.

nullifidian
nullifidian

"Yes, she did, dummy. Go read her journal on the matter."

Why should I when I've read enough of her 'philosophical' nonfiction and "Atlas Shrugged", and am fully capable of seeing for myself that AS is not comprehensive? Hell, just look at the time line of her books. *All* her nonfiction works were published after AS. Obviously she wasn't yet done saying all she wanted to say.

"Hey, kid: those are *your* words. Not mine."

I know they're my words. I typed them.

"You're kinda new at this, aren't you?"

What? Dealing with self-important, pseudo-intellectual Randroid assholes on the internet? Nope, I'm afraid that's a task I've been forced to undertake all too often.

"...that was an interrogative of mine, and you didn't know that."

Actually, the question mark rather gave it away as an interrogative.

"What, exactly, would it take to gain your respect, and what do you think it counts for?"

You could stop throwing around misogynistic insults, you could deal substantively with the issues at hand, you could back up your allegations with evidence or withdraw them, etc. etc. There are lots of ways to gain my respect. Based on the fact that do none of these things, I can at least tell you my respect is worth more than yours is. In fact, if I *had* your respect, I'd wonder what I was doing wrong.

Leeds man
Leeds man

Ah. The inevitable confession

Just trying to help you out, Billy. You're the one who wants a comprehensive statement of philosophies. I've got one for you that you (and other callow youth) might be able to grasp, which has all the subtlety of Objectivism without the bullshit; floss regularly, and try not to be a dick.

Thanx for playing.

Wingnut Indicator #2: The faux-insouciant dismissal.

zuzu
zuzu

I put "Erin Brockovich boobs" into Google, and got 335,000 results.

What does that tell you?

nullifidian
nullifidian

"Any more than political activism was the exclusive reason why people go see "Atlas"? {shrug} I dunno. You tell me."

Okay, I will tell you. "Erin Brockovich" was an excellent film with widespread public interest (leaving aside the lawsuit, it's fundamentally a poor-woman-makes-it-good comedy) and two excellent leads with box office appeal.

"Atlas Shrugged, Part 1" is a vanity project with *no* leads with box office appeal and only a niche interest in the politics of the film.

"Erin Brockovich" was widely advertised to the general public.

"Atlas Shrugged, Part 1" has not been advertised to the general public, because the distributors are trying to drum up interest among the Tea Party set instead.

So, no, political activism was not the exclusive nor even the primary reason why people went to see "Erin Brockovich", but it is the primary reason why people are seeing "Atlas Shrugged, Part 1."

"I do know the "liberal political activism" that I've seen in American cinema over the past forty years or so, however."

Peachy. So what?

The notion of "liberal political activism" in Hollywood films is simply an effect of the American far-right not realizing that a) their views are not, in fact, marketable to a wide spectrum of the population as entertainment, and b) that Hollywood has to make films that appeal to groups far beyond the parochial right-wing. Films these days usually have to do well abroad as well as domestically to make their money back, and it affects the way films are written and produced. The market is speaking, and it's not on your side.

"Like I originally posted; it was a blindfolded dart-shot, but I'll tell you what; before I don me specs and and start pointing out The Big Picture with resort to the whole catalog, I might suggest plugging "Erin Brockovich political activism" into Google and observing some of the 45,000 hits"

Why should I? Would that prove anything about why people went to see the *film* "Erin Brockovich?

But in the spirit of experiment, I did so. I only got 3,500 hits, because I used quotes around the phrases, and the first hit on the list isn't even about Erin Brockovich *or* the film. Most of the remainder, from my skimming, seem to deal with Ms. Brockovich as a *person* and not the film.

Doing the same thing for "Atlas Shrugged" returns 14,100 hits.

So what was that supposed to be in aid of?

Now, do you want to demonstrate that the "lefty horseshit" you claim exists (I doubt you'd even know a leftist if he pantsed you) has been seen out of political duty rather than because people *wanted* to see it as entertainment?

Leeds man
Leeds man

I might suggest plugging "Erin Brockovich political activism" into Google and observing some of the 45,000 hits

Why? is 45,000 a lot? Using "Atlas Shrugged political activism" gets 155,000 hits. Maybe we need an index of some sort, maybe Google hits divided by box office, to get a measure of the ideological bullshit attached to a movie.

nullifidian
nullifidian

"Null - you bore me more than Galt's Speech."

I was pretty sure that was going to be the response to asking you to back up your claims about what I allegedly said re: disliking Rand with specific quotes. This is where you made your error. I know it's a great temptation when defending the indefensible, because I've seen it dozens of times, but lying to *me* about what *I* have said is a tactic that is doomed to failure.

"But a short reply: nearly everybody with strong political interests in the US has heard of Ayn Rand. Not so Goethe, Hesse, Camus, or (and particularly, as perhaps the only name worth mentioning as a useful comparison, being the only American author) Dreiser."

I can only say it again: awesome. Your response couldn't be more irrelevant. It is awe-inspiring in a way to see such complete inability to construct a coherent defense of Rand.

I say Rand writes shitty books of polemic dressed up as philosophy. You say nearly everybody with strong political interests in the US has heard of her. Okay... so how does that refute what I said in any way? An American polemicist is known—at least by name—by Americans with strong political interests. Color me shocked.

I was clearly addressing Rand's quality as a writer, which is why I compared her with four well-known literary figures. Of course, acknowledging that obvious basis of comparison would shoot a neat hole in your absurd falsehood that I had 'admitted' to rating Rand poorly because of her politics and not her inept way with prose.

"I'm done here."

You say that as if you think anyone should miss your 'contributions'.

Jennifer
Jennifer

Oh, so now we're back to "it's popular so that proves it's good."

I can't tell you how hurt I am that a bloviating moron on the internet finds me "not particularly bright." Somehow I must needs find the way to go on living with the pain. Ironic, since the lack of "pith" you find so objectionable in my responses - necessitated only by your repeated claims that I've not produced any concrete objections to Rand's shitty writing other than "(you) don't like it" - is what you've been so vociferously defending in Rand's shitty writing. You are correct - four sentences of about 10 words each would explain to a person of ordinary intelligence why Rand's writing sucks. Unfortunately, your intelligence obviously doesn't rise to the level of ordinary, and since you've shown a fondness for wordiness (via your worship of Rand's "skill" as a writer), the only apparent way for anything to sink into your thick skull is via lots of repitition using lots of words.

Which of course, is now why I'm wrong, and you're right.

"I'm done here."

Why didn't you just go ahead and type in "I WIN!!!11eleventy1!!"? Since that's the only way anyone else here would ever know.

Orphan
Orphan

Null - you bore me more than Galt's Speech. You write nearly as much inconsequential nonsense as Jennifer, and engage in more rationalization than a geologist creationist. But a short reply: nearly everybody with strong political interests in the US has heard of Ayn Rand. Not so Goethe, Hesse, Camus, or (and particularly, as perhaps the only name worth mentioning as a useful comparison, being the only American author) Dreiser.

Jennifer - Let me rephrase your entire post: "Ayn Rand ignores the value of pith." (Because I don't find you particularly bright, I find it compulsory to explain: You're guilty of exactly the thing you're accusing Ayn Rand of in said accusation. Does the simple fact that a thing can be shorter, however, mean that it should be? If so, you should have written exactly four sentences of about ten words each instead of the posts you did produce.)

I'm done here.

Jennifer
Jennifer

@ Orphan:Now that I'm back from a day of PRODUCING...apparently you've never heard of that maxim of good writing: edit, edit, edit. Don't take 60 pages to say what could be said in less than 1,000 words (as others have done in summing up the deathly Galt speech). Taking 60 pages to rationalize sociopathy doesn't render it not-sociopathic. Gabriel Garcia Marquez' Nobel rests on ONE LINE. He would have been a good writer without that one line, but it's that one line in one book that says, "this guy is one of the greats." That's what GOOD writers do - they choose and use words carefully to pack meaning into an economy of space.

Out of all the elements in the novel that stretch credulity, the idea that people would be transfixed by - and listen to - a guy bloviating over the radio for 3 FULL HOURS about how butthurt he is that everyone does not recognize his brilliance and bow before it, so now he's gonna take his toys and go home is the most out there. D-U-L-L.

On the other hand, I guess lots of schmoes listen to 3 hours of bloviating butthurt daily by tuning in to Limbaugh. Not much surprise that on the Venn diagram of "people who think Atlas Shrugged is a great novel" and "people who listen to Rush Limbaugh" the two circles largely overlap. I guess some people have a much higher tolerance for crap than others, or a largely defective crap-monitor.

nullifidian
nullifidian

"I'm glad to see you're willing to admit your dislike of Atlas Shrugged comes from its political qualities rather than its literary qualities."

Awesome.

I must have missed the part where I made this alleged 'admission'. Care to direct me to the exact quote, which was apparently composed in an amnesiac stupor? Either that or this 'admission' was composed nowhere but in your head.

In fact, I only read "Atlas Shrugged" once and I was a conservative at the time. I found it to be the most appalling drivel, both in terms of literary merit and philosophical soundness. My politics didn't have any part in that evaluation. Instead, it was simply a byproduct of being interested in the books of far superior writers and thinkers.

"In general the best way to avoid Objectivists is to avoid making personal attacks on the people they follow and read; I came here because Tam was insulted...."

And how in the hell am I supposed to know who *you* follow and read, besides St. Ayn herself? I had never heard of Tamara K or View from the Porch before I read this article.

"Could you leave the speeches out and leave the story intact? Sure. But the story isn't just about the plot, or the character development; it's about philosophers dictating the terms of their own existence."

I direct you again to Goethe, Hesse, Camus, and Dreiser, who managed to create deep characters who underwent profound philosophical realizations without babbling on uninterrupted for sixty pages.

What you call "philosophy" is better described as "polemic". Nor is it even a well-written polemic. By the time the reader gets to Galt's speech, it's entirely superfluous because it contains nothing that we couldn't have already gotten out of the 800 prior reiterations of the same points.

"As for your claims that the left is defined by anticapitalist sentiment, I'd say you're being ignorant. Pretty much period."

Again, awesome. But unless you have anything to *back that statement up*, then it's worth as much as a fart in a windstorm.

So far, the only people I've encountered who object to this are those who want to map the entire left-right spectrum onto the two present-day political parties, treating Democrats as "the left" and Republicans as "the right". This is absurd, because the two parties are barely distinguishable on major points of policy, and becoming less so all the time. It's like trying to measure inter-atomic distances with a ruler.

Secondly, even in the U.S. the Republicans and Democrats don't exhaust the range of political philosophies. Yes, Virginia, anarchists, communists, and socialists still exist in the political life of the U.S., even if not at their former strengths. And if we parochially make the mainstream U.S. parties the basis for the left-right spectrum, then we have no way of usefully discussing politics in the rest of the world, which does not conform to the narrow constraints of approved ideological discourse in the U.S.

Orphan
Orphan

I'm glad to see you're willing to admit your dislike of Atlas Shrugged comes from its political qualities rather than its literary qualities. In general the best way to avoid Objectivists is to avoid making personal attacks on the people they follow and read; I came here because Tam was insulted, not because I particularly enjoy reading the drivel that passes for commentary here. (It was fun at first, in rather the way playing whack-a-mole with dynamite is fun, but it does get rather droll in precisely the same way.)

And yes, the speech is the climax; it is to a significant extent a book defined by its speeches. Arguing that it's ridiculous to have a long speech in there is as silly as arguing that Lord of the Rings spends too much time on Frodo's anguish and self-doubts, or that a space marine novel spends too many pages on the final battle; it misses the point and nature of the books.

Could you leave the speeches out and leave the story intact? Sure. But the story isn't just about the plot, or the character development; it's about philosophers dictating the terms of their own existence. To write Atlas Shrugged and omit the speeches would be rather like writing a book about viticulturalists and never mentioning grapes.

As for your claims that the left is defined by anticapitalist sentiment, I'd say you're being ignorant. Pretty much period.

nullifidian
nullifidian

"What would I call it? I could call it the climax of the book, considering the entire novel revolves around the evolution of the central character's philosophic standing, and the speech represents the point in time when that character's understanding reaches its apex."

So Ayn Rand's idea of a climax was for a single character to deliver a sixty-page harangue. Awesome.

"Wilhelm Meister's Apprenticeship", "Siddhartha", "The Outsider", and "An American Tragedy" are all philosophical novels that involve characters who undergo a process of self-realization, but somehow Goethe, Hesse, Camus, and Dreiser all managed to avoid shoving diatribes several dozens of pages in length into the mouths of their leads.

nullifidian
nullifidian

"So you didn't like the book, congratulations. Do you want a medal for reading it or something?"

A medal? No, but I think I should seek monetary damages.

Incidentally, I don't go around seeking out people who like "Atlas Shrugged". If you look at the masthead here, you'll see this a blog on the Village Voice's website, not a blog on the website of the Randroid Quarterly. I only discuss AS and Ayn Rand when it becomes an issue in either general conversation or in whatever general-interest websites I happen to be visiting. I don't go out of my way to beard the Randroid in his den.

You should also reread "The Awakening". It is a far richer work than you give it credit for. One of my best essays as an undergrad was an analysis of that novella.

"So what drives you crazy? That other people might have different tastes in literature than you?"

If I were worried about that, I'd be far more agonized about "Twilight" and "The Da Vinci Code".

"That other people god forbid might have different philosophies than you?"

Nope, not that either. If that bothered me, I'd be more inclined to change myself than upbraid Randroids, seeing as how my own political philosophy is a minority position.

"Or is it that the book continues to be quite popular some fifty years later in spite of your claims that it has no literary merit and that right wing ideas aren't marketable?"

I wasn't aware that issues of literary merit were settled by publication numbers. It's more than a little ironic to see a Randroid appealing to the judgment of the "mob" for validation. And I never claimed that right-wing ideas are not marketable full stop, but that they are not marketable in the entertainment industry, because the industry has to appeal to an international market. If Rand had to appeal to an international market, then her works would be a complete failure too because (at least in Western and Central Europe, which I know most about) hardly anybody has ever heard of her.

"(I'm curious to know when libertarianism became right wing, but hey, if progressives want to set the left up as authoritarian, I guess they're free to.)"

Who said that I was a progressive?

Nor did I say that libertarianism was right-wing. It is incidental to the left-right spectrum, which is one based on *economics*, not social freedom. Ayn Rand is right-wing because she was a capitalist. The left-wing is anti-capitalist (socialist, communist, and anarchist). In the middle, therefore, are those who advocate a mixed system: the social democrats. New Labour in the UK and the Democratic Party in the US are center-right. All these determinations have nothing to do with invoking the concepts of libertarian or authoritarian.

"Does the huge financial success of Passion of the Christ drive you insane? (It isn't a right-wing flick either, but I suspect you, like most progressives, prefer to gloss over the left's own heavy Christian leanings)"

There's that word again....

And no, Mel Gibson's snuff flick doesn't bother me, since nobody is buttonholing me and telling me that I absolutely *must* see it, nobody is sponsoring scholarships hoping to lure teachers and professors to assign it, nobody is making donations to universities contingent on screening it in film classes, and nobody is trying to make it a basis for national policy. All these things make Randroidism considerably more annoying than "The Passion".

Ironically, the people most offended by "The Passion", aside from Jewish groups, were other Christians who disliked Gibson's death-worship and pointed out that he almost entirely elided the Resurrection and the redemptive purpose of it all. As an atheist, I don't have a dog in that hunt, so I don't care one way or the other.

"Actually, on that note, tell me, how DO you reconcile these ideas: the idea that Fox News is a massive commercial success, the idea that Fox News is right-wing propaganda, the idea that Atlas Shrugged is right-wing propaganda, and the idea that Atlas Shrugged is right-wing propaganda and therefore doomed to commercial failure?"

Because television and film are different mediums, and Fox News is not required to appeal internationally, or indeed at all beyond its niche market, in order to make its money back. The resounding flop of "An American Carol" and the poor numbers of "Atlas Shrugged, Part 1" show that explicitly right-wing political agitprop flicks have limited appeal outside a niche audience.

That was so easy that you could have answered it yourself.

Orphan
Orphan

What would I call it? I could call it the climax of the book, considering the entire novel revolves around the evolution of the central character's philosophic standing, and the speech represents the point in time when that character's understanding reaches its apex.

Do you have any criticisms which aren't "I don't like it"? Because that's hardly an argument for an objectively bad book. And I notice you have failed entirely to define that phrase you're so fond of; is that because you suddenly realized you were spouting meaningless crap, out of curiousity?

Jennifer
Jennifer

@ Orphan: What, are you retarded? What part of "ponderous and poorly-written" does not compute? The woman wrote an uninterrupted character speech that goes on for what, 50 or 60 pages? Sweet christ, if my verbosity is an indication that I don't know what I'm talking about, how do you explain away a speech that goes on for 50 frickin' pages?

Orphan
Orphan

Jennifer - you write a lot for somebody who doesn't have anything to say; repeatedly declaring a thing to be of no literary merit (define that phrase if you would) doesn't mean anything.

I'd advise against regurgitating other people's opinions in the future, because it just becomes pathetic when you are challenged and have nothing of substance to back them up with.

Leeds man
Leeds man

So do you have any -actual- criticisms of the book, or does it all come down to "It's popular therefore it's crap"?

Wingnut indicator #3: Totally misread comment, change subject forcefully (and often at length). Rinse. Repeat.

Jennifer
Jennifer

@ Orphan:1. I'm not the one who introduced the "popularity = quality" trope. I merely pointed out that in terms of popular culture, the opposite is the norm. Rand's books don't suck because of their popularity; they suck because they're ponderous and poorly-written. Their popularity stems from their utility in telling a certain group of people what they want to hear; not coincidentally, people who seek out what they want to hear are, as a result, less discriminating about the quality of the package it's delivered in. As you say yourself, it's not the point. As one of the wits over at alicublog pointed out, as a novelist, Rand sucks as a philospher, and as a philosopher, Rand sucks as a novelist.2. The animals in Orwell's Animal Farm had far more humanity than any character in any Rand novel. Even the pigs.3. If, as you claim, the polemic is the entire point of the book, stop trying to pass it off as a work of literary merit. That's not to say that a great work of literary fiction can't also be a polemic, only that Rand's works lack literary merit. 4. Once upon a time, the ability to appreciate literature was what was known as "being an educated human being," though I suppose these days that's all liberal elitist faggotry and all. Nowadays, only us "hipsters" discriminate between quality and crap.

Leeds man
Leeds man

Leeds - I didn't, in point of fact.

This is not the Private Argument thread. You want thread 12A, just along the corridor.

Orphan
Orphan

Leeds - I didn't, in point of fact. And really, you decided to jump in with -that-? If I wanted droll insults masquerading as wit I'd bother Atticus more.

Jennifer - Uh uh. Okay. So do you have any -actual- criticisms of the book, or does it all come down to "It's popular therefore it's crap"? Because I don't really get into the whole hipster thing. (The only "substantive" criticism you have in there, that the novel describes a polemic, applies equally as much to Animal Farm or Brazil, and misses the point that that IS the point of the book. It's kind of a feature of both dystopian and moral stories, and Atlas Shrugged is both.)

Jennifer
Jennifer

Lots of people "like" Barbara Cartland and Jackie Collins' "novels" yet they have the good sense not to run around blathering about what literary masterpieces they are.

Look, there's a reason Ayn Rand never won the Nobel prize for literature. Or a national book award. Or a Booker prize (ok, so the Booker wasn't around back then...but if it had been, she wouldn't have won it). It's because she didn't write great works of literary fiction like the works of Toni Morrison, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, or Salman Rushdie. Those authors write/wrote books about people. Rand wrote books about ciphers who she moved around in plots designed solely to illustrate a polemic. The great works of fiction speak to our humanity. Rand's works speak to the opposite of that. She was a shitty writer. And if it will make you feel any better, there are shitty writers on the left too...for example whats-his-name who wrote that Celestine Prophecy nonsense. Which also duped a lot of people who didn't know any better into running around blathering about what a good book it was and what a good writer he was. Bullshit. It sucked for many of the same reasons Ayn Rand sucked - cardboard characters, implausible plotlines, wooden dialogue, all pressed into service to get people to believe in fantastical nonsense that their own human experience should have told them was nonsense. I've nothing against fantastical nonsense per se, but poorly written fantastical nonsense is where I draw the line. I've only got so much time on this earth.

You're free to "like" the works of Ayn Rand, but this crap about "lots of people liked it so that means it's good" is just that - crap. "Lots of people" also like The Dukes of Hazzard, reality television, The Family Guy, Britney Spears, etc etc etc. In fact, pretty much the basis for broad popular appeal is suckitude, because it's only by watering things down that they appeal to the widest possible audience. You should at least not embarrass yourself by trying to explain your inexplicable fondness for shite. I mean, I sometimes like to listen to Duran Duran...but I'm not about to get into a pissing match with anyone, online or in real life, about how my inexplicable occasional fondness for it means that it's good, or artistically relevant, or anything else. It's crap that I happen to sometimes like listening to; my liking it doesn't make it "not crap."

Leeds man
Leeds man

how DO you reconcile these ideas: the idea that Fox News is a massive commercial success, the idea that Fox News is right-wing propaganda, the idea that Atlas Shrugged is right-wing propaganda, and the idea that Atlas Shrugged is right-wing propaganda and therefore doomed to commercial failure?

Glad you asked! Easy. It's the difference between lazy/stupid/ignorant/bigoted on the one hand, and intellectually/emotionally stunted on the other. The former far outnumber the latter. The Wingnut tent has many mansions.

Atticus Dogsbody
Atticus Dogsbody

Doo dee doo dee doo. Just livin' my life. I wish I was good at insults. Imagine if some shit gobbling retard ('cos that's what we speak of... apparently) came here and made arsehole of himself, I could have at him. Especially when he tries to be a ungrammatical grammar nazi and wins.

Orphan
Orphan

Ah, okay then. If this is how you want to live your life, carry on, then.

Leeds man
Leeds man

Really, Leeds, I'm glad you finished your comeback (to a post that didn't even address you) an hour later. Didn't feel satisfied? I still do. =P

I'm having a very busy workday, and can only spare a few moments here and there, but every second has been almost worth it.

Orphan
Orphan

Really, Leeds, I'm glad you finished your comeback (to a post that didn't even address you) an hour later. Didn't feel satisfied? I still do. =P

Leeds man
Leeds man

can't even keep your ideological enemies straight, huh?

The differences between two subspecies of near-sighted bottom feeders whose grasp of reality is tenuous at best are only important to the members thereof.

The Derider
The Derider

You're not really better at insults, but I'll pretend that you are because it's ultra-important that objectivism "win" in the mass media (because the free market can't decide which movies are good and bad, and needs some help).

edroso
edroso

That doesn't sound very politically correct...

Nobody gives a shit about political correctness anymore, except conservatives working from a very old joke book.

Speaking of insults, I'm better at it than you.

Mind the bragging, this is a very competitive group.

Leeds man
Leeds man

A quote that no one actually said. Very sophisticated.

Speaking of insults, I'm better at it than you.

Grammar and spelling fine, emotional response at Grade 2 level. Yep, sounds about right for a Randian.

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