By Sean ONeal July 21, 2009
It’s almost quitting time, which means you’re mere moments away from shrugging off the working world and heading to hearth and home. But before you go whistling down the sunny side of the street, shoulders lightening under the lengthening shadows of another day well spent, we have some bad news for you, wrapped up in a last-minute memo we call Daily Buzzkills.
As our Most Exalted Leader Barack Obama tightens his sinister stranglehold on the nation’s economy, forcing America’s lashed and mewling innovators to bend like browbeaten willows before the all-encompassing might of his regulatory fist, and feeding ravenously on all of their hard-earned farthings only to poop out great lumps of communist coal to put in everyone’s stocking this Christmas, many conservatives have taken refuge in their scriptures. No, not that socialist screed The Bible. We're talking about the capitalist stroke-books of Ayn Rand, the thinking asshole’s author. In the wee hours of the morning, when they’re all chasing away nightmares of the federal boogeyman coming to take away their money and give it to heroin addicts who want to create government-subsidized drum circles, they hide under their goose down bedcovers with their rumpled photos of Rand—looking very “kitten with zero tolerance for charities” in her alluring dollar-sign pendant—and weep great, fat, Republican tears about the way no one listened to her when they had the chance. “If only someone had made Atlas Shrugged into a film,” they blubber, “the bailouts never would have happened.”
Weep no more, bruised and battered libertarians: After 37 years of being shot down by rational people who see the book as a stilted and masturbatory work suitable only for college freshmen who haven’t figured out that, if everyone did exactly what they wanted all the time, civilization would collapse on itself—and by the way, dudes, most ladies don’t enjoy being raped into submission, even by rugged industrialists—your sticky dreams of turning Rand’s rambling screed about the values of selfishness and laissez-fare capitalism into a brutally dull, unwatchable movie are about to become a reality! We know: You’ve heard all this before. In fact, not long ago, self-avowed Rand fanatic Angelina Jolie was attached to the film, but someone must have gently taken her aside and explained that it’s hard to be both an objectivist and staunch opponent of collectivism when you’re also asking people to give all their money to Third World countries or working closely with those evil cooperation-lovers at the UN— which basically amounts to criminal activity amongst the book’s more fervent fans. Thankfully those acolytes have a brand new, Teutonically ideal actress to provide the integrity-filled bodice of economically principled sexpot Dagny Taggart in Charlize Theron, and all will soon be right with the world.
Of course, there’s one thing that’s been standing in the way of an Atlas Shrugged film all these years: Its major themes are both reactionary and really fucking, like, insultingly stupid. Ha ha, no, just kidding. No, it’s the pervasive fear that all of Rand’s precious, life-changing, hippie-evaporating word-nuggets would never survive the transition to celluloid in the hands of those Hollywood jackals, who would most likely leave all of the weightier lessons on the cutting room floor in favor of a more facile, Fight Club-esque reading about individualism in the face of corporations and lots and lots of rough sex scenes—which is in there, yeah, but that’s not, like, the point. Fortunately, Theron is all over that one, already worrying aloud that a movie would lose the “nuances” of the novel—you know, like the scene where the book’s mythical hero of both engineering and “keeping it real” John Galt stands in a ditch and barfs out a 70-page speech about the awesomeness of objectivism—and making plans to develop Atlas not into a stultifying three-hour-plus feature film, but rather an epic miniseries on Lionsgate’s upcoming pay-cable network, Epix. Oh, yay. That should get every last drop of the nuance, all right.
Because hey, what better time than the Greatest Recession to sing an insufferably long hosanna to self-interest—to preach the gospel of laissez-fare capitalism, just when it was most recently proven to be so fucked in the head that even No. 1 Ayn Rand Fanboy Alan Greenspan seemed taken aback that he’d ever believed in it? And just because certain unscrupulous loose cannons took “rational self-interest” to its natural conclusion, and gave Rand’s beloved free markets a violent rogering worthy of one of her heroines, regardless of the cost to “looters,” “moochers,” and other “parasites,” it doesn’t mean that selfishness can’t work as a philosophy, right? Oh, except that Rand wrote in a weird, superficial bubble where every character was either a brilliantly creative, brazenly individualistic industrialist with a lean physique and strong jaw-line; an oily, vampiric, socialist-in-disguise; or a clueless sheep caught in the middle—and guess which one all the fans of Rand’s books tend to identify with? Unfortunately, you don’t see a whole lot of John Galts and Howard Roarks out there; just a bunch of fat, greedy corporate fucks chasing short-term profits to the detriment of everyone, then willingly getting in line for the very same big government intervention they used to bloviate about at frat parties when they were trying to get laid. (But, of course, somebody else is already making that movie.)
But whatever! It’s all totally prescient because Rand called this whole “government intervention” thing—and Charlize Theron is pretty, also; don’t forget that—and so unsuspecting people will be excited to see it, and then they’ll be all like, “Man, what if the smart people stopped creating things because the government keeps bailing the not-so-smart people out? That would totally suck. And what if someone created a magical energy-making machine, but then Al Gore wouldn’t let us use it because its carbon footprint was too big? That would suck as well. Who is John Galt??!” And then finally, everyone will come around to objectivism, and the government will shut its dollar-spewing piehole, and we can all finally get back to the business of making money again! Thank God (except don’t, because according to Rand, he’s not good for business either)!