Atlas Shrugged is Awful and Influential
Imagine if all the poor and working-class Americans vanished suddenly, leaving only rich people behind. Government is gone, too, so these lucky fat cats don’t have to pay any taxes and can therefore enjoy all the money they make with total freedom.
That would be the ideal, according to Ayn Rand, the author of “Atlas Shrugged.” Powerful politicians worship this novel, in which the rich start disappearing mysteriously. Without these men – who bring value to existence – the cost of energy goes up so high that car and plane travel stops and everyone rides trains. Meanwhile, the wicked American government seizes control of businesses so it can strip them of money and power.
There’s a movie version out right now. It’s “Atlas Shrugged Part II: The Strike,” the middle chapter in an unfolding trilogy. The commercials say the film might impact the polls on Nov. 6. “Will it influence the election?” the TV spots ask. “You decide.”
A news story in the Hollywood Reporter earlier this month said that while the political films “Lincoln” and “Zero Dark Thirty” (about the mission to kill Bin Laden) are being held by studios until after Nov. 6, to avoid the appearance of trying to sway the election, the producers of “ASII” hope their film tips the scale Mitt Romney’s way.
“We purposely set out to release the film just before the election,” producer Harmon Kaslow told Hollywood Reporter. “It was no accident. As a country, we need to right the ship now. This is the most important election of our lifetime and we intend on shining a light on Ayn Rand’s ideas.”
This is funny, because “Atlas Shrugged II” is ugly and stupid, and no one appears interested in seeing it. The flick debuted outside the Top 10, and sports a staggeringly terrible 5 percent score on RottenTomatoes.com. (That means of all the critics who reviewed the film, only 5 percent recommend it.) The lighting makes the actors look bad and the special effects are laughably TV-grade. This movie is overloaded with dialogue – long scenes of one character talking to another – and somehow features not one single moment that’s intended to be funny. It is completely humorless.
This, though, should not be a surprise to anyone familiar with the book. I’ll admit I’ve never read Rand’s “Atlas Shrugged,” but I have read Matt Taibbi’s book “Griftopia,” which features an entire chapter (called “The Biggest Asshole in the Universe”) about former Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan and his relationship with the author Rand. (They were members of a group called the “Collective,” who would gather at parties to debate whether or not they existed.)