Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand‘s 1,000 page allegorical novel about why people who read Atlas Shrugged are superior beings who “welcome” rapes from other superior beings, for that is what all superior beings find sexy, is slated to hit the big screen next year. Directing and starring as the most superior “welcomed” rapist of all, John Galt, will be Paul Johansson of One Tree Hill fame. Johansson will also direct. Eroticized fascism has never looked so gauche!
In this edition of Sexist Beatdown, join Sady Doyle of Tiger Beatdown and I as we discuss the class concerns of objectivist rape fantasy, the inherent horniness of soft-core steel production, and whether Atlas Shrugged: The Paul Johansson Story can possibly be worse than the 1949 film adaptation of the Fountainhead (trailer above, tl;dr version below):
SADY: AYN RAND! AYN RAND AYN RAND.
AMANDA: Enough! I am overcome by the urge to be sexually conquered by the small group of captains of industry who I believe to be my intellectual superiors!
SADY: A superior woman, I see! Unlike the puling mewling soft-featured panderers of compassion and mooching! And, like, school lunches! Wicked inferior greed-children, feeding on the lunches of the elite!
AMANDA: It takes a special woman indeed to earn a hate fuck from that guy from One Tree Hill.
SADY: This was always my favorite part of Ayn Rand: There’s always ONE WOMAN who is, like, super-smart and super-competent and super-skilled at all this industry stuff that everyone else sucks at because they’re socialists. (Also, this woman is always thin and “angular.” “Angular” is the key defining visual attribute of Virtue, in the Rand lexicography.) She is, explicitly, better at this than every man in the entire world. EXCEPT FOR HER BOYFRIEND! He chooses her to smack around or rape or whatever (AND SHE LOVES IT) because that is how very superior she is. Like, I’d really rather NOT be superior if it means getting slapped all the time?
AMANDA: But from whence will you experience the natural eroticism derived from the physical and intellectual imbalance between the masculine and the feminine?
SADY: I dunno. Professional wrestling?
AMANDA: Ayn Rand loves gender equality, to a point—-the point where she personally thinks it’s really not sexy, at which point the greatest man in the world rapes the greatest woman in the world, who he knows will just love it. Because that’s how great she is. Are inferior beings allowed to rape people in Ayn Rand novels? Or is middle-class intimate partner violence not as glamorous?
SADY: Eh. I think a lot of the rough sex derives from the sort of romanticized fascism of the novels. It’s all about the right of the strong to fuck over the weak. There’s not a lot of structural engagement — any attempt at it is met with some sort of “YOUR BOOTSTRAPS! PULL ON THEM” lalala-I-can’t-hear-you thing — but whatever. So the right of, say, multimillionaire industrialists to pay their factory workers one cent a day is the same as the right of that multimillionaire factory worker to beat up his girlfriend. The girlfriend gets to play the role of Good Inferior Person, in that she totally loves it and is honored by it. Unlike those mewling puling mooching factory workers who want to raise the minimum wage enough to buy food with it, or whatever.
AMANDA: Totally not a turn on! I have to admit that I would have loved to see a big-budget Atlas Shrugged cast with immaculately angular captains of Hollywood. But I’m pretty sure Ayn wouldn’t be too pleased that some more round-faced television actors are pinching pennies in order to realize her greatest work. You know, maybe they’re going to make this amazing recession-era Atlas Shrugged that puts an ironic spin on her glorification of wealth, but I think probably it’s just going to be a half-assed dud that doesn’t even capture the ridiculous grandeur of her stupid book.
SADY: Haha, yeah. I myself am greatly looking forward to the movie. Because the whole point of it — superior people make superior products and earn superior money because they’re superior! — is going to be really complemented by the spectacle of this broke-assed movie made with former WB stars for like five cents. I mean, this is an expensive movie, on the face of it. There are like gleaming teal sci-fi train tracks and uberbridges and megaweapons that can explode a goat and the whole thing ends in a postapocalyptic landscape with the death of civilization and everyone in it. (SPOILER.) How are they going to pull that off, Claymation? Or are they just going to film the speeches? The seventy-seven page speeches? Which, I guess, is the real draw. Ayn Rand writes the stupidest things you’ve ever heard, but she wraps it up in this package that says you have to be A GENIUS to agree with her, so you make your way through the seventy-seven page speech and you’re like, “I DO agree! Plus I done gone and read me some philosophy! I ARE a genius, Ayn!”
AMANDA: Right, I mean, I bet the crack team behind this production can find a way to paraphrase the whole thing. Like: “Not only am I a genius, but I’m also one of the hottest people alive. Also, I hate women just the appropriate amount, a position that isn’t sexist in the least, because a woman wrote this book, and anyone who disagrees is simply irrational.” KABLOOEY! Or something.
SADY: Yeah. Poor Paul Johansson. I mean, I may personally feel that the best way to embody boyish blonde sexually irresistible Everydude John Galt is NOT to hire a dude who looks like the scarier variety of nightclub bouncer, but he’s not only playing this iconic poor-hater: He’s directing the thing. Quite possibly because they couldn’t find anyone else.
AMANDA: How could you put a film like this in anyone else’s hands but the most superior person available for every position involved, Paul Johansson of One Tree Hill? The positive here is that if Ayn Rand’s novel is any indication, they won’t need to hire an editor.
SADY: Maybe he’ll apply lessons learned in his previous erotic straight-to-video thriller “Bitch Hunter 2: Night of the Evils” and EDIT IT AS WELL. A true capitalist can do ANYTHING! With no training! It is like the Matrix! What excites me is that they might be splitting it up into a trilogy. As with the Harry Potter and the Lords of the Rings and so on and so forth. Because, in the first part of this book, LITERALLY NOTHING HAPPENS. Dagny rides trains and Hank buys her a necklace and hates his wife. People will be leaving the theater like, “so… trains, then?”
AMANDA: There will, of course, be plenty of soft-core shots of steel tracks and shit. I for one expect to be extremely aroused.
SADY: The history of Ayn Rand is that people are super-persuaded by her books until those books are filmed. “The Fountainhead,” written by Rand herself, is notoriously bad, mainly because Rand insisted they keep in the speeches. People were super-turned-on by the edgy rape scenes and the One Man Takes A Stand Against Society bullshit, and then they started filming it and were like… “wait a second! No-one actually talks like this! And they’re arguing over buildings the whole way through! This shit is SUPER-BORING, oh noes!” So, in a way, the “Atlas Shrugged” movie is the best thing that could possibly happen. Provided you hate “Atlas Shrugged.”
AMANDA: I think enough people hate “Atlas Shrugged” that this movie actually has a fighting chance at the box office.