Atlas Shrugged adaptation needs help, fails to see irony

You’d be forgiven at this point for not even realising that a trilogy of films adapting Ayn Rand’s Objectivist 1957 doorstop Atlas Shrugged, beloved of total dicks the world over, is already two thirds completed. That’s because the first two films bombed, commercially and critically, and so there’s a good chance that you are not one of the literally dozens of people who paid to see them, turning ‘who is John Galt?’ from cryptic mantra to genuine question. Part One, released in 2011, has a Metacritic rating of 28 and made back only $4,627,375 of its $20 million budget.

Now you would think, given Rand’s embrace of laissez-faire capitalism, that since the market had clearly spoken and its answer was ‘no thanks, you total dicks’, that would be the end of it. But no, positioning themselves as exactly the kind of visionaries rebelling against a diseased system that Rand championed, producers Harmon Kaslow and John Aglialoro soldiered on regardless, releasing Part Two in October 2012, just in time to seize the zeitgeist once again for the first time and sway the results of that year’s US Presidential election, which it conclusively did not. Part Two, in fact, did even worse than Part One, taking $3,336,053 against a $10 million budget (so proportionally actually less of a loss, but a hefty loss nonetheless) and landing a 26 on Metacritic.

Refusing to be cowed, however, and equally refusing to accept that this kind of thing kind of contradicts Rand’s whole self-sufficiency thing, Kaslow and Aglialoro have now taken to Kickstarter, looking to Rand acolytes to provide the generous, community-minded, unselfish charity for which they are so renowned to take them through the production of Part Three.

Clearly anticipating that smarty-pants pinko Commie lefty ‘haters’ like myself would be ready to point out the potential ideological conflict there, the FAQ on the film’s Kickstarter page addresses it head-on, asking ‘Isn’t asking for charity antithetical to Ayn Rand’s philosophy?‘ and answering it thusly: ‘Ayn Rand had no problem with someone giving money to a cause they care about. If someone deems a cause worthy and wants to donate money, they should be free to do it. What Ayn Rand had a problem with is altruism for the sake of altruism as a moral duty, or being compelled, or forced, to “give.” The Atlas Shrugged Kickstarter campaign is of course a voluntary value-for-value exchange. You are not obligated to contribute.’ All of which is true, but doesn’t address asking for charity so much as giving to charity, and so does little to differentiate this campaign from the societal parasites trying to grub that money for which you’ve worked so hard – you know, the elderly, the infirm, the unemployed etc. – from which Rand’s protagonists strive to disentangle themselves.

Anyway, if you would ever have considered contributing to this, none of the above is likely to dissuade you, in which case I really, truly hope you enjoy the value-for-value exchange of having your name carved into John Galt’s house that $7,500 will bring you.

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  1. Oh.. the haters have a new phrase.. “total dicks”.

    Contribute of your own free will… or don’t contribute of your own free will. It’s Simple. Thanks for writing this.

    1. Believe me, it isn’t new. Nice to see you’ve taken time out from arguing with the regulars at The Dissolve and The A.V. Club on their posts about the Kickstarter to stop by here though, I feel honoured you were able to fit us into your schedule of posting an affronted comment on every site on the internet that raised an eyebrow at it.

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