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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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Chris Ward

Chris Ward

Chris Ward writes and says things about books and music and films and what have you, even when no one is reading or listening.
He was chief hack and music editor of webzine Brazen from 2006 to 2010, and hosted Left of the Dial on Subcity Radio from 2008 to 2011.
He can be heard semi-regularly on the podcast of Scottish cultural blog Scots Whay Hae ('20th best website in Scotland!' - The List), and in 2011 founded Seen Your Video, a film and music podcast and blog based in Glasgow. He has a Masters degree in Scottish Literature from the University of Glasgow that will never have any practical application. You are on a hiding to nothing if you follow him on Twitter expecting any kind of hot publishing scoop.

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