This site will work and look better in a browser that supports web standards, but it is accessible to any browser or Internet device.

Whedonesque - a community weblog about Joss Whedon
"The truth? There is no truth. There's just what you believe."
11945 members | you are not logged in | 22 November 2014




Tweet







February 14 2011

Trailer for 'Atlas Shrugged Part 1'. Featuring the high school principal we most love to hate and our favourite conspiracy bookstore owner.

It's a bit dull. The trailer wouldn't tempt me to watch the movie (or even read the book).
In that sense, it's like "Twilight" for Objectivists.
Perfect summation from The One True b!X. Armin Shimerman is a very good actor and I'm always glad to see him onscreen, but this one's not for me.
I can't remember seeing a movie preview that more aggressively ignored the possibility anybody might want to see it that hadn't read the book. If you knew nothing of the story at all, you'd know from this preview that there's a guy that makes awesome metal, a woman who wants to build a railroad, and that they are going to work together. People don't want them to do that; trailer doesn't give any indication why. They want to work together; trailer really doesn't give any indication why. Who is John Galt? Trailer doesn't say, obviously, but it also doesn't say why you should care. And, by the way, it's Part 1 of this very riveting tale.

I was pleased to see Armin Shimmerman. That Guy was also on "Drive", the one talking to Reardon in a couple of parts. And I also saw Big Love from "House" Season 4.
Not even for Armin Shimmerman. Not for anyone on the planet would I support anything that came from the toxic mind of Ayn Rand.

Not saying anything negative about anyone involved with this project, an actor's gotta work.
I share Shey's sentiments. I wish our Whedon-alums the very best in this project, but I think b!X captured the essence of the film's appeal. I don't fit the demographic.
I fit the demographic, but I won't be watching this, even though I'm happy to see it finally made (the story behind its making will undoubtedly be far more interesting). But honestly, until I saw Principal Snyder I was still thinking it was a fake. Then Shimmerman pops up and all I can think is, S&!t just got real.

(Then again, I never imagined anyone would turn the short story "Harrison Bergeron" into a full length feature, either.)
Although i'm a huge fan of the book I can't see myself ever watching this movie. I don't think Hollywood is capable of doing in justice.
"The toxic mind of Ayn Rand."

Why? I think that the world would be a much better place if people learned to put their own personal happiness as their number one priority. It'd be a more honest place, at least.
I love the book. I've read it every other year since I was in high school but I can not bring myself to see this movie.

Fun fact: The guy who directed this was on One Tree Hill.
I'm actually really excited for this. It looks like it could be either really good or just awful. Either way, though, it'll be sure to be an "interesting" experience.

Personally, though, I'm hoping that they won't be afraid to edit it a little. *cough100pagespeechcough*
Principal Snyder reminds me of Ayn Rand.

Putting aside the cold-heartedness of Rand's philosophy, it is spectacular in its disregard of logic. You just need to read a few pages of Rand's non-fiction writings before the fallacies start piling up.
I just watched the trailer. Come on. Putting aside the merits of the movie's politics, don't doctrinaire free-market liberals also hate heavy-handed political messages. 'Someone who knows what it's like to work for himself and not let others feed off the profits of his energy'. Yikes. I'm sure I'd cringe just as much if the opening lines of the trailer had been 'someone who thinks tax should be steeply graded because opportunities aren't equal and because income has a diminishing marginal utility'. Above all, this movie looks tedious - just as much as the various sanctimonious left-wing documentaries out there.
@patxshand, I'll disregard the privilege-peddling in your post and just answer to the undeniably toxic nature of Ayn Rand's mind:

“[The Native Americans] didn’t have any rights to the land and there was no reason for anyone to grant them rights which they had not conceived and were not using…. What was it they were fighting for, if they opposed white men on this continent? For their wish to continue a primitive existence, their ‘right’ to keep part of the earth untouched, unused and not even as property, just keep everybody out so that you will live practically like an animal, or maybe a few caves above it. Any white person who brought the element of civilization had the right to take over this continent.” - From her lecture “Philosophy, Who Needs It” given at West Point in 1974, published in Ayn Rand answers: the best of her Q & A

Suffice to say, I will not be seeing this film. Rand is one of the most despicable writers I've had the displeasure of coming across.
I recently read Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead and greatly enjoyed both of them. I think it is a little unfair (not to mention close-minded) to entirely disregard a work of fiction just because of the ideas of the author.

I think objectivism is a demonstrable philosophy, one which should be approached with caution by any reader, but it does have its functions. I feel it provides and important counter-point to a well-rehearsed argument. It is useful in the way that it allows us to question the way we think, even if considering objectivism only affirms that our approaches to politics, business or capitalism are better or preferable.

I feel that one of the cornerstones of liberal opinion and thought is pluralism, and it is also a feature that I feel is so often ignored by proponents of left-wing ideas.

I also feel that it is particularly foolish to disregard fiction on the grounds of the philosophies behind them. Would you refuse to read The Chronicles of Narnia to your children on the grounds that it is full of Christian imagery? Well many people would, but you would be denying your children wonderful stories. I was read them by my parents, and I would consider myself a fairly hardline atheist. By the same token, Harry Potter is also full of Christian imagery.

Rand is also a particularly good writer, and many of her characters are embodiments of objectivism at one level of the spectrum or another. Writing about characters who are willing to sacrifice nothing for what they believe in? This makes for a very exciting narrative as you can push your characters right to the brink and see exactly how far they will really go to advance their own ambition.

Nobody is asking you by reading Atlas Shrugged to agree wholesale to the ideas of objectivism. If you chose not to read it for other reasons then fine, but if you reject it on the grounds of philosophy all you are doing is denying yourself a spectacular work of fiction.
I think it is a little unfair (not to mention close-minded) to entirely disregard a work of fiction just because of the ideas of the author.

. . .

I also feel that it is particularly foolish to disregard fiction on the grounds of the philosophies behind them.


Generally, I agree. To dismiss the Narnia series because it promotes Christianity or Brideshead Revisited because Evelyn Waugh was a borderline fascist is to miss the point of art - you can't properly judge an aesthetic work on moral grounds. But it's hard to see how this applies when - as with Ayn Rand's novels - the work is built around the philosophy and exists essentially to promote it. It is entirely artificial to judge Ayn Rand's fiction without regard to her philosophy, because she makes it such a big deal in her fiction. You hint at as much yourself when you say 'many of her characters are embodiments of objectivism'.

To my mind, almost all great writers hide themselves in their work. People are still debating whether Shakespeare was a republican or monarchist, and what other political views he had. Joss Whedon (yep, I'm including him as a great writer) gave his lead character in Firefly political views completely opposed to his own (and very similar to Rand's), and still allowed him to be a very sympathetic character. By contrast, Rand's stuff is basically a political screed.

I feel that one of the cornerstones of liberal opinion and thought is pluralism, and it is also a feature that I feel is so often ignored by proponents of left-wing ideas.

You don't explain what you mean by this, but it sounds as if you're implying that in criticising Ayn Rand we're somehow against pluralism. If so, that misses the point of pluralism. Pluralism just means everyone should be allowed to hold and express their political beliefs. It doesn't mean everyone else has to agree with every idea that comes along.
I took it to mean pluralism as exposing oneself to a wide spectrum of ideas, fictional or otherwise, not pluralism as some sort of lack of judgment or opinion.
Yeah, you might be right that that's what he meant. However, this seems to suggest that he was suggesting something different to that:

"I feel that one of the cornerstones of liberal opinion and thought is pluralism, and it is also a feature that I feel is so often ignored by proponents of left-wing ideas.

I also (my emphasis) feel that it is particularly foolish to disregard fiction on the grounds of the philosophies behind them."

In any event, if that's what s/he's suggesting, I think it's a fairly cheap slur to say that it's just people on the left who don't immerse themselves in right-wing stuff. How many conservatives rush off to see the latest Michael Moore democracy? I think closed minds belong to both the right and the left.
What I understand pluralism to mean is being open to new ideas and opinions; while not necessarily agreeing with or adhering to them. I think it also has to do with respecting the opinions of others and appreciating that someone with a different opinion to your own is by no means worth less than someone with a similar opinion.

I think you are right to say that Rand's work is political screed (Altas Shrugged more so than The Fountainhead), and I think this does detract from the narrative to a certain extent (especially during Galt's sixty page monologue). I suppose it depends how you choose to read it. I read her books primarily for the sake of enjoyment of fiction, but I think it is impossible to read her characters without considering their actions in response to your own judgement. I feel I understand more about why I oppose the ideas of objectivism now, and I feel that I would be more confident in vocalising that opposition.

I apologize if I implied that most liberal-minded people are not pluralists, and I would agree that close-minded people are to be found everywhere, from a range of political backgrounds and belief systems. I meant that I generally associate the appreciation and respect of the diversity of others with left-wing thought (which is not to say that it may not be associated with right-wing politics also) and therefore when I come across an individual who purports to promote liberal ideas, yet is disrespectful of the opinions of others, I find that individual particularly hypocritical.

I feel I am straying slightly from my point though which is simply that: one can enjoy Atlas Shrugged without being a selfish capitalist.

[ edited by Vortigun on 2011-02-15 11:45 ]
I read Atlas Shrugged in high school, very many years ago. It was quite the slog; Rand's prose style & characterization leave a lot to be desired. Her ideas were attractive to some of my classmates, but they discarded them with their slide rules. (Hey, they were all in the AV Club!)

I'm glad the Whedon actors are getting work. On another board, somebody was inspired by Armin Shimerman's casting to suggest an All-Ferenghi production of the turgid opus.
"@patxshand, I'll disregard the privilege-peddling in your post and just answer to the undeniably toxic nature of Ayn Rand's mind."

Stating my opinion about a philosophy is "privilege-peddling"?

PS: It isn't disregarding when you comment on/condemn it.

PPS: The rest of her lecture on the same topic goes on to explain her controversial beliefs. I don't defend the quote, but I don't think she's "despicable" for holding such beliefs either. Also, "Racism is the lowest, most crudely primitive form of collectivism. It is the notion of ascribing moral, social or political significance to a man’s genetic lineage—the notion that a man’s intellectual and characterological traits are produced and transmitted by his internal body chemistry. Which means, in practice, that a man is to be judged, not by his own character and actions, but by the characters and actions of a collective of ancestors." - Ayn Rand.
The thing is, patxshand, that generally I associate Ayn Rand's anti-racist bent to be most brought up against racism against white people. I don't associate her with work civil rights fight of the 60's. I do associate her with her actual stance against affirmitive action. Which is consistent with libertarianism certainly, but ironic for someone who was alive and in a position to help the civil rights movement and couldn't be bothered at the time.

Also, don't ask me why but I find something incredibly off putting by these two statements taken back to back:

1) Which means, in practice, that a man is to be judged, not by his own character and actions, but by the characters and actions of a collective of ancestors."

2) Any white person who brought the element of civilization had the right to take over this continent.

Strange that my right slaughter you and to take your land is solidified because your anscestors hadn't come up with come up with titles yet. But not becuse you're a different race, THAT would be wrong. Let me know when we sack Sweden for not protecting intellectual property rights.

I'm not a history apologist, I just have always found Rand to be one of those people who made logic work whichever way she thought it should which was usually in a way that helped her, or justified people closer to her rather than further away. Then again, that IS consistent with her philosophy.

[ edited by azzers on 2011-02-15 19:32 ]
Reminds me of a funny joke:

There are two novels that can change a bookish fourteen-year old’s life: The Lord of the Rings and Atlas Shrugged. One is a childish fantasy that often engenders a lifelong obsession with its unbelievable heroes, leading to an emotionally stunted, socially crippled adulthood, unable to deal with the real world. The other, of course, involves orcs.

Leaving aside Rand's politics as a HUGE can o' undelectable worms (although they are an integral part of her fiction) I've never understood why people think she's a good writer.

As BrewBunny's joke ; > underlines, her characters are rarely fleshed out or believable, and her dialogue is often laugh-out-loud bad. I get that it's stylized, but I find the style clunky and almost unreadable - though I've persisted through most of her novels, just to be fair.

IMO, hers is one of the most overblown literary reputations of the 20th - and now the 21st - century...
Azzers:

With the first quote ("Which means, in practice, that a man is to be judged, not by his own character and actions, but by the characters and actions of a collective of ancestors.") she was, in context, pointing out that that is ridiculous, not supporting it.
I read the book, found it very interesting, and am curious on how this comes out.

That being said, the fundamental philosophy behind all of it was totally flawed. Yes, in a way it made total sense and was logical, but I think someone needed to "CHECK THEIR PREMISES." Lol.
patxshand:

My mistake was form. It was a long quote and I forgot to put the ... and racism is the lowest form of collectivism part in front of it. I should have started it, broken it, and started again.

The point is, those full quotes are incompatible.
@patxshand,

Disregard (v.): 2. to treat as unworthy of consideration or respect
- Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009. Dictionary.com

No, stating your opinion is not privilege-peddling. Your opinion itself, however, is. So let me regard your incredibly problematic statement for a second:

"I think that the world would be a much better place if people learned to put their own personal happiness as their number one priority. It'd be a more honest place, at least."

This shows, to say the least, a privileged disregard for people suffering from mental disorders, not to mention a naive sense of knowing what would make "the world a [much] better place." Leave it to folks of the so-called First World to know what'd be best for everyone else.

I find it quite concerning, as azzers pointed out, that in response to my quote, you used Rand's writings on racism to point out how she could not possibly be, at the very least, a person whose views were deeply problematic. Rand was a highly privileged writer who notoriously stepped all over marginalized and oppressed folks, the "others" whom she regarded not to deserve equal rights - “democracy of superiors only,” eh? Because the merits of the elite always trump basic human rights. No wonder FOX News has been all over Rand as of late.

[ edited by NotLikeCousteau on 2011-02-16 18:29 ]
You said... "Disregard (v.): 2. to treat as unworthy of consideration or respect
- Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009. Dictionary.com"

That's a lot of citation for such a little snipe.


Then, you said... "No, stating your opinion is not privilege-peddling. Your opinion itself, however, is. So let me regard your incredibly problematic statement for a second: (quote)

This shows, to say the least, a privileged disregard for people suffering from mental disorders, not to mention a naive sense of knowing what would make "the world a [much] better place." Leave it to folks of the so-called First World to know what'd be best for everyone else."

First of all, how do you know where I'm coming from? First World? Middle, upper, lower class? You have no idea who I am, what I do, or pretty much anything about me other than the fact that I think people should put themselves first as a very general rule. Your assumptions are silly, offensive, and completely inappropriate. I'd have to BE privileged in order to be an advocate of peddling it... and I'm quite honestly *not*. I'd love to be, for sure, and I'm working toward building my career. But again, you assume much.

You said... "I find it quite concerning, as azzers pointed out, that in response to my quote, you used Rand's writings on racism to point out how she could not possibly be, at the very least, a person whose views were deeply problematic."

Never said her views weren't problematic. I was simply countering his quote with a quote that would show another side to the woman. Her philosophy isn't perfect, nor is it free of inconsistency or contradictions. At the core of it, though, I think it's a valuable philosophy to consider. Not to 100% adopt, as it would be ridiculous for any one person to live by another person's creed to the dot, but at least to... let's use the word... regard?

You said... "Rand was a highly privileged writer who notoriously stepped all over marginalized and oppressed folks, the "others" whom she regarded not to deserve equal rights - “democracy of superiors only,” eh? Because the merits of the elite always trump basic human rights. No wonder FOX News has been all over Rand as of late."

Again, you seem obsessed with the "privileged," so much so that you would assume that I am a member of this horde of the privileged that you loathe because I don't think Ayn Rand's mind is toxic.

I think she was a talented writer with a brilliant, flawed mind. Not unlike most famous writers. For thinking that, though, I guess I'm a) a billionaire, b) racist, and c) in need of copious amounts of dictionary citations. Continue to flame, if you'd like, but it's pretty silly to assume so much about a person based on their opinion about a writer.
NotLikeCousteau and patxshand, if you two want to score points off each other then kindly do so elsewhere. Otherwise I'll do it for you.
The sum of Ayn Rand's philosophy: Social Darwinism. Never has anyone used so many words to gild such a basic (and morally indefensible) concept.
You should play Bioshock.
Rand would have been a much happier person if she'd had the integrity to walk the walk and not just talked a good game. Her failure to live by her own principles -- honesty being the most crucial -- seems to be at the root of most of her psychological problems, as well as the unhappiness that her actions (not her ideas) caused in other people. But that's the kind of thing that can happen when you try to justify cheating on your spouse, for instance. I'm glad we can all discuss these things in a civil manner.
Moving on. I apologize, Simon.

I haven't been following Armin Shimerman's career, but it is great to see him still working. I still see Snyder though, I do admit!

You need to log in to be able to post comments.
About membership.



joss speaks back home back home back home back home back home