Saturday, April 23, 2011

Atlas Snored

Far be it from me to deny someone the joy of seeing a bad movie. There are plenty of films that I've gone out of my way to see that a mainstream audience would find utterly boring. That said, it is telling (in my mind) that my Libertarian friend, The Whited Sepulchre, starts out his "review" of Atlas Shrugged by exclaiming, "they didn't screw it up!" but by the end of it says, "they didn't totally screw it up."

In some circles this is known as damning with faint praise. I respect his honesty.

Other online reviews pretty much panned it. What was amusing was the comments by the True Believers, who were convinced in every case the reviewer was some liberal scoundrel for failing to see the film's elusive virtues. It never occurred to them that, politics aside, the film...just...sucked. Even my friend, the WS, admitted the screenplay, acting, directing, and effects were not particularly good.

So what's left? Ayn Rand's philosophy? Oh please.

Box Office Mojo tracks the sad decline of the ticket receipts:  opening day, April 15: $630,000, averaging around $2,250 per theater, dropping off to an average of $458 per theater (for a total of $136,832) after less than a week. Friday it got the date-night bounce (now that's something to think about) and managed to pull in another $307,000, with a $660 theater average.

My advice, if you are planning to see this, better hurry. The Invisible Hand of the Free Market is about to bitch-slap it into the next dimension.

This was, as you probably know, Atlas Shrugged, Part 1. If Parts 2 and 3 actually get made I'm willing to bet they go straight to video.

The distributor, Rocky Mountain Pictures is a niche player - its films are primarily targeted to a broadly evangelical right-wing Christian audience. Its last big splash was Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed, a supposed documentary that purported to show how intelligent design advocates are persecuted. Atlas Shrugged has the same type of appeal to its audience that Christian-targeted films do -- the True Believers will watch it no matter how mediocre and will loudly defend it to those of us who haven't accepted their theology. The irony here of course is that Ayn Rand denounced religion and embraced atheism.

No -- I have no problem with lousy movies, it's lousy philosophy that gets my goat. Atlas Shrugged is not so much a movie as a tract for Rand's pseudo-religion of self-worship called Objectivism, which is the philosophical underpinning for Libertarianism. Says she:

My philosophy, in essence, is the concept of man as a heroic being, with his own happiness as the moral purpose of his life, with productive achievement as his noblest activity, and reason as his only absolute.
Stripped of the florid prose: "Our highest moral calling is looking out for number 1."

Now, I've known a lot of self-absorbed, self-centered dicks in my life. Most of them were at least vaguely aware of their dickishness and acknowledged it. What drives me around the bend here is the attempt to wrap dickishness in some high-minded self-justified morality.

Just so there is no mistake: being a self-absorbed dick is being a self-absorbed dick, no matter how you rationalize it. Now, go fuck yourself.

"Who is John Galt?"

Who gives a shit?

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