Thursday, August 13, 2009

Where's the Beef?

We at RandZapper have understandably grown weary of trolling Objectivist discussion groups in search of the latest Randian imbecilities. Today, however, in a spirit of duty and selfless public service, we manfully attempted to wade into these Augean stables yet again. What we found, however, was not what we anticipated.

Using the Google Groups search engine, we entered the catchall term "Ayn Rand." The search filter we employed leaves out groups in which Rand is merely mentioned in passing; it turns up only those groups explicitly organized around Rand.

Remarkably, only eighteen groups were listed. Moreover, the membership of most of these groups was minimal.

Oh, there was the redoubtable humanities.philosophy.objectivism, with a respectable 624 subscribers, and alt.philosophy.objectivism, with 150 subscribers. There was the New Intellectual Forum, with seventy-eight members. There was also something called Ayn Rand Dating, with forty-one members in search of rational romance.

But as for the rest ... well, here's a partial list.

AYNRAND [sic] THE GREAT: five members.

The Collective Philosophes [sic]: four members.

Rationalist: two members.

Who Is Afraid of John Galt: one lonely member.

Ayn Rand Forum: eleven members.

The amusingly titled alt.schmuck.dead.bad.lady.novelist, which sounds like the kind of group we might have cottoned to, sadly boasts zero members.

Objectivist Club Discussions: seven members.

And seven more groups, mostly international, featuring between two and three members apiece.

Curious, we tried searching for the term "Objectivism." This brought up more hits, fifty-two groups in all. Of course, some of them are the ones already listed. As for the rest, a few seem to depart radically from Randian purity - Christian Objectivists has seventy-eight deeply confused members - while the others mostly boast memberships in the one- to five-person range. After the first page of listings, none of the groups has even 100 members, and nearly all have fewer than ten.

How about the term "Atlas Shrugged"? Google Groups comes back with only five groups. One is a book club that discusses various books, mostly non-Randian. Then there is a group that characterizes itself thusly:

angleina jolie videos metacafe, jenaveve jolie feet movies, jolie lofties, angelina jolie skydiving, pitt jolie texas, angelina jolie video clips, angelina jolie s personal stylist, pitt jolie, aurora jolie fuck, jolie nude ass, is angelia jolie pregnant, jolie atlas shrugged

Probably not a nexus of New Intellectuals, though it does have 110 Jolie-besotted members.

Then there's a group calling itself Fransisco [sic] d'Anconia, which describes itself as follows:

all dose ppl who hav read Atlas Shrugged... this community is for dose who admire Fransisco d'Anconia, the man who supported John Galt throught. A loyal friend, a true lover and a man of great genius. mayb der's sumthing v all ought to learn from him. Lets discus his ideals, his life and him

It has one member.

A hopeful group called Ayn Rand Fans announces it will discuss Rand's works. The discussions must be rather dull, since (again) there is just one member.

Naturally we could generate many more hits by using the search engine to find any discussion in which our terms appeared, rather than limiting results to sites specifically devoted to these topics. Most of those hits would involve discussion groups that normally have nothing to do with Rand, but which were briefly invaded by some deranged Randian shill.

But it seems to us that the best measure of Rand's actual popularity on Internet discussion groups comes from groups that are organized around her works and her ideas. And there just aren't very many of these, and most of the ones that do exist have very limited memberships.

Which is ... odd.

After all, wasn't there supposed to be a lot of buzz and heat and a groundswell of excitement about Rand and Atlas Shrugged? Weren't Rand's ideas suddenly taking America by storm? Weren't we seeing a renaissance of interest in Objectivism, a revival of the Objectivist movement, a surge in book sales, a cresting wave of popular support?

If so, you'd never know it from Google Groups.

Objectivists are always asking, "Who is John Galt?"

Here's a better question:

Where's the beef?

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Angelina, We Hardly Knew Ye

The original purpose of the RandZapper blog was to troll Objectivist newsgroups looking for the most idiotic statements made by Randian fanboys. But after a while, this pastime gets old. The idiocy is never-ending and always the same. And even though we have unlimited time on our hands (being a resuscitated and therefore immortal Aztec mummy), we still don't care to waste our time listening to the nattering nitwits who frequent Objectivism's online salons.

But there's still one feature (or is it a bug?) of the Randian mindset that continues to exert a certain morbid fascination, and that is the idee fixe that a movie version of Atlas Shrugged is "in the works" and will soon take America by storm (und drang).

If you ever need proof that prolonged exposure to Randism rots all critical faculties, consider this medical fact: People have been talking about Atlas Shrugged: The Boring Movie (or Atlas Shrugged: The Even More Boring Miniseries) since the early 1970s. It has never happened. It is never going to happen. Yet the twittering twits of O'ism blindly maintain their optimism that this time it will be different - this time the project will hit the screen - this time the obstacles will be hurdled and the challenges will be met.

This time.

Permit us, in our inimitable fashion, to offer our carefully considered reply to such Pollyannish puerility:


(In case you're wondering, that was a Bronx cheer, or as it was known to us in our youth, Quetzalcoatl's revenge.)

The latest evidence that Atlas Shrugged: The Incredibly Dumb Movie isn't going anywhere is found in an online post that tries manfully to talk up the project. Of course you have to read between the lines. Objectivists, most of whom seem to be high-functioning autistics and Asperger's patients, are congenitally incapable of doing this, so in the spirit of charity toward our benighted brethren, we will help them out.

The post begins with the exciting news that a powerful new money man may soon climb aboard the Atlas express to provide financing. A little history is in order here. Other powerful money men have tried to bring Atlas to the screen - Ed Snider comes to mind. But here's the thing about powerful money men. They didn't get that way by flushing their rubles down the toilet on vanity projects. They invest in something only if it looks like it will be profitable. So far, even Rand's most devoted and well-heeled admirers have not been able to convince themselves that a feature film of her unreadable magnum opus will not sink like a stone.

In fact, it appears that the current incarnation of Atlas Shrugged: The Exercise in Cinematic Tedium is sinking already. Here's the key quote from the article:

A number of stars have expressed serious interest in playing the lead role of Taggart. Angelina Jolie previously had been reported as a candidate to play the strong female character, but the list is growing and now includes Charlize Theron, Julia Roberts and Anne Hathaway.


Now, if you are a Randinista, you will no doubt wonder why we are grimacing in exquisite schadenfreude at this seemingly harmless paragraph. Isn't this good news for Atlasphiles and all their imaginary friends? Not only Jolie, but even Theron, Roberts, and Hathaway are in the running for the role of a lifetime!

Ah, you poor deluded saps. Permit us to explain a little thing we like to call reality.

In reality, if Angelina Jolie were still committed to this movie, the producers would not dare mention any other actresses competing for her role. It would piss off La Jolie, which is the last thing the moviemakers would want to do. The fact that they are floating these other names means one thing and one thing only: Jolie has put on her stiletto heels and walked away from the project.

That's right, Rand fans. Angelina is no longer in the building.

Even so, the bemused Galt fetishist may wonder, what's the big deal? Theron, Roberts, and Hathaway are big stars in their own right.

Sigh. It gets tiresome explaining the obvious to the simpleminded, but we will soldier on.

If Theron, Roberts, Hathaway or anyone else was actually signed for this role, or even close to being signed, then that name - and only that name - would be announced to the press. The fact that all three names are being bandied about means that none of these fair ladies has signed up. In fact, the post says as much, referring to these glamour queens merely as "candidates" for the role.

Translation: What we are reading is the producers' wish list. Having lost Brad Pitt's multiply tattooed, anorexic, baby-making significant other, they are desperately searching for a replacement and throwing out every plausible or semi-plausible name they can come up with, to give themselves the illusion of box-office credibility.

Because, unlike O'ists, we know how the real world works, we can say confidently that none of the above - not Aeon Flux, not Pretty Woman, not Shakespeare's wife, and not Mrs. Smith - has signed for the role of Dagny, and most likely Theron, Roberts, and Hathaway have not even discussed the idea. They would probably be as surprised as anyone else to see their names mentioned in connection with a "movie" they've never even heard of. ("Who the heck is Dagny Taggart?" might be a typical response.)

The post also contains the exciting news that Randall Wallace, having written the screenplay for Atlas Shrugged: The Interminable Waste of Time, is thinking about making his directorial debut helming the epic. This is, of course, because director Vadim Perelman already walked.

Wallace's last major cinematic effort was the screenplay for Pearl Harbor, a movie so bad an actual song was written about how stinky it is.

What kind of song will they write about Atlas Shrugged: The Celluloid Crap-Fest?

I miss you more than Randall Wallace missed the mark
When he made that lame Ayn Rand film.
I miss you more than that movie missed the point
And that’s an awful lot, girl.
And now, now you’ve gone away
And all I’m trying to say is
Atlas sucked, and I miss you.

It's enough to bring tears to a dusty old mummy's eyes. Sadly, that song will never be written, because Atlas Shrugged: The Weak-Ass Direct-to-the-Video-Bargain-Bin Movie will never be made.

And if any powerful money men are reading this, they can take that prediction to the bank.

Monday, January 12, 2009


RandZapper here. After a hiatus, we've returned to mock The Atlas Society's website promoting the "upcoming" Atlas Shrugged feature film.

As we have long pointed out, this movie is upcoming in the same sense that the migration of the San Bernardino Mountains into downtown L.A. is upcoming. If your time scale is long enough, you can mark your calendar, but don't expect either the mountains or the movie to hit your doorstep anytime soon.

Evidence that we're right is found on the Atlas Society's own site. (And by the way, shouldn't it be the Atlas Shrugged Society? That's A.S.S. for short.) Anyway, just click on "Current News" and you find yourself reading this breaking news story:

Angelina Jolie set to star in Atlas Shrugged

It's official: Angelina Jolie is set to star in the film adaptation of Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged. David Kelley, Founder and Senior Fellow of The Atlas Society (TAS) confirmed with producer Howard Baldwin that Jolie is "signed, sealed and delivered."

Woo-hoo! With super-mega-ultra-movie star/celebrity/diplomadonna Jolie on board, nothing can stop the Atlas express now!

But wait. This "current news" item is dated September 21, 2006.

Duuuuude. That was like, two years ago, man. Hasn't Jolie made at least three major flops since then? If she could find time to play Fox in Wanted between squeezing out babies, couldn't she fit Dagny Taggart into her schedule?

Even worse for Atlasphiles, this is the latest - in fact, the only - "current news" on the site.

For fun, we clicked on "Archive," where we found the exact same news item about the anorexic home wrecker. Previous archived stories offer breathless headlines like "Atlas Movie One Step Closer! The Inside Scoop," and "Film Company to Bring Atlas Shrugged to the Screen!" The latter is dated May 13, 2003.

2003? Bush was still in his first term. He hadn't even started pulverizing our economy yet.

Now, we may be only a resuscitated Aztec mummy on a mission to mock Objectivism, but even we know that if there were any heat behind this movie, it would have shown some progress over a period of five years. Instead, there's been no significant news other than the signing of Brad Pitt's creepily tattooed and disturbingly gaunt corpse-bride. Screenwriters have come and gone; plans for a Lord of the Rings style trilogy have been trumpeted, then scrapped; claims have been made of serious interest from a bevy of bona fide stars (none of whom have materialized); a director (with two bombs to his credit) was hired and then let go; and now the project appears to be languishing permanently in Development Hell.

Who could have predicted it? Oh, RandZapper, that's who. Not to toot our own horn or anything.

At this point, the only thing the Atlas movie is good for is playing pretend-casting games (as witness this Wall Street Journal Online waste of time from last April). And it provides an opportunity for Rand fans to sound off on whether the book should be dramatized as a movie or miniseries.

Here's a thought: how about neither?

There is actually just one format that would do true justice to the depth, insight, complexity and intellectualism of Ayn Rand's epic vision. Yes, that's right - we're talking about a comic book. (Or, for you bluenoses, a graphic novel.)

We can picture it now, Atlas Shrugged the comic, written and illustrated by Objectivist nutjob Steve Ditko. Price: $95, payable in gold bullion only. Binding: the gold-embossed pelts of baby harp seals, pasted together with glue made from past Kentucky Derby winners. Length: 4000 pages. Galt's speech alone would run 250 pages, since (obviously) not one bejeweled word of this magisterial summation of the Randian worldview can be omitted. Would you cut the Bible? Well, would ya, punk?

So our advice to all the Objectivists dutifully awaiting the debut of their nonexistent and never-to-be-existent movie is this: Pool your pennies and hire Ditko to pen-and-ink your favorite novel.

Or failing that, sharpen your Crayolas and get to work yourselves.

(They do let you have Crayolas in mental institutions, don't they?)