If you tell me Ayn Rand is your favorite philosopher, fine.
But then you don’t get to use anything derived from public services ever again. Including your precious money, roads, protection via police and military.
The lack of your attempt to contribute to government does not mean the government is flawed, just that you are lazy or are somehow institutionally disadvantaged.
However, the majority of Randians being straight white male republicans/libertarians I’m going to say its probably just you being lazy and saying “I already have all I want, why should others get some of what I have?”
The goal of a business is to make profit for yourself, the goal of a government is to help the people as a whole prosper.
i like the incredibles. love it, even. there are so many things that are just fabulous about that movie. i even think that some of it is politically useful, what with its critique of liberal humanism’s eliding of differences. i think the thinkpieces (and a.o. scott’s pre-thinkpiece review) describing and decrying it as randian are a little bit overzealous, but i also think they’re onto something. i still maintain that those readings presume that we are supposed to sympathize with bob instead of helen, but one of the thesis statements of the movie is, undeniably, “if everyone’s special, no one is.”
what i love about the lego movie is that it takes that thesis and answers it with, “yes, okay, so what.” in fact, it doesn’t just say “so what,” it doubles down and joyfully celebrates that notion. “everything is awesome,” initially presented as satire, eventually has the last word. again, there were too many “the lego movie is anticapitalist” thinkpieces written last year, but i think they were onto something. it may be the tiniest sliver of something but it is something
First let me say - I had fun. I was entertained. I even liked the performances. But I still have to give it a thumbs down. I expected a Disney-fied version of The Fifth Element. What I got was a Disney-fied version of Fifth Element written by Ayn Rand and pretty much stripped of futurism.
If you take your kids, be aware that overly-simplistic yet muddled objectivist rhetoric will be beaten into their heads with a large mallet. I guess it’s not really a surprise, most of Brad Bird’s protagonists are exceptional individuals whose vision is either ignored or oppressed by the mediocre masses. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m a fan of Bird. But while the Randian undertones were super subtle in Iron Giant (one of my fave animated movies ever), and were obvious but benign in Ratatouille, they were pretty blunt and unnerving in The Invisibles, The Invisibles is an awesome movie with a creepy message - not everyone deserves a medal. Not only that, but participation badges are worse then meaningless, the’re destructive. Tomorrowland has a similar but even broader theme - extraordinarily gifted, tenacious optimists can save the world, if only the rest of us uninspired naysaying commoners would get out of their way.
But lets put all the political stuff aside. What really bothered me about this movie was Tomorrowland itself. The protagonists spend spend 85% of the movie running, escaping and battling their enemies in the real world and 15% running, escaping and battling their enemies in this futuristic paradise, which is like a poster of a set piece. The movie’s own message is actually undermined by this. There’s big talk about a Utopia built by the best and brightest artists, scientists, thinkers and dreamers, but we never get to see it in action. Not only don’t we see any of these great minds creating anything or solving a problem, we get no insight into any facet of their society.
And worst of all, for me anyway, they give short shrift to the superficial trappings of Utopia. All you see of this supposed wonderland is a very clean, well-designed promenade framed with tall twisty buildings, a couple of flying suits, a few ray guns, an allusion to civilian space travel and a stream of happy, silent, multi-ethnic people clothed by single fascistic Fashion Overlord.
The ending is deeply confusing, dogmatic and phenomenally trite.
I did mention I enjoyed it, right? I did. But I left wondering what the hell makes Tomorrowland a Utopia? If you can’t explain how a bunch of elitists dissolved the class system, you can at least turn a tiny pill into a full course cheek-en dinner.
American leftists should reclaim the word “libertarian”. I realize that the term has different meanings depending on location, but in the US, upon hearing the word most of us think of Randian, hyper-capitalist types. Let’s call it what is: objectivism, neoliberalism, or (my favorite) propertarianism. “Libertarianism” used to mean the advocating of actual liberty, liberty unrestrained by coercion both political and economic; it used to mean a system where all those who participate in something receive inalienable decision-making powers in the form of expanded democracy; it used to mean a system where no one person could lord over socially-operated production – that all changed when American neoliberals got their hands on the term and appropriated the hell out of it.
Capitalists appropriating something to the point of it losing its former meaning. Huh, go figure.
Has anyone here ever brought up that whole “Jesus was a brown guy who gave out bread for free and wore sandals in the desert chillin’ with a bunch of other dudes” thing to actual religious conservatives face-to-face before? Because I’ve seen that commentary plenty online, everyone here just seems to know that the Jesus figure is this sort of anti-Randian icon or middle-eastern socialist hobo, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen a single case of a religious person or a conservative person responding to it. It’s not like there’s a lot of room to argue that Jesus was secretly a white free market capitalist or anything, I’m just wondering if there ever is a response to this, or if the people its directed at just sit there with a haughty indignity and refuse to address the criticism. I don’t even consider it hard-hitting criticism, because if you were really convinced that Jesus was a middle-eastern socialist instead of shaved white American poster boy, it would be super easy to just… denounce Jesus, or not model your life after him. You could probably pull that off while still being a Christian.
One of the PAs at work overheard me talking about social and economic stuff with people I know pretty well at work and decided he’d corner me several times and have a debate about what’s wrong with society and the riots that are happening and I’m just like “look I don’t know you very well I’m just trying to eat this sandwich.”
I was definitely not looking forward to this book because I kind of think that Stacey is boring. She seems like a cool girl from New York who sometimes thinks she’s too cool for the other club members (Kristy and Mary Anne namely).
And Stacey suffers a lot in rereads because she’s personally done a lot to normalize diabetes so while it is really, really great to read this story about a character living with a chronic illness, it sometimes feels like it doesn’t go deep enough. (Basically, Stacey’s diabetes feels foreign to me in 2015 but still really resonates in its realism - which is, to be honest, why I’m doing this project at all. Mea culpa, I was wrong about Stacey.)
But OK this book also gets super bogged down in the business aspects of the club. The B-plot is Stacey’s parents’ control over her body but the A-plot is all about this new group of older kids who call themselves the Baby-sitters Agency and who are stealing all the Club’s business. Like, this book is a few plot points away from being a corporate spy thriller but without the thrills.
I. Loved. It.
Despite the lies the cover tells, the book does not actually take place predominantly in a candy store (just a couple of pages of Stacey feeling really guilty about almost buying a single piece of candy for her charge before dinner) but instead in Claudia’s bedroom (the ACTUAL candy shop of the series), where the girls mostly talk about their new rival, the Agency.
The Agency is run by older girls who can stay out later and are more trusted with infants (Stacey notes that a senior in high school could sit for a whole weekend which I don’t even understand the 80s at all but maybe the idea that 14 year olds can be trusted with newborns is just part of the fantasy of the series?)
The rivalry becomes all-out warfare when two girls infiltrate the Club to spy and, I guess, damage the reputation of the group by failing to show up to jobs under the Club name. The girls are super upset because they are twelve and being attacked by high schoolers but also because they’re losing their positive standing in the community (THEY ARE TWELVE STILL) and the confidence of their best clients.
The girls are full-on Team Parent when they find out the kids they babysit hate their new sitters because all the Agency members do is watch TV and burn furniture with their cigarettes. They narc on the Agency not to make themselves look good (and they are super clear that they’re worried about it seeming that way) but because these other sitters are terrible at their jobs and Kristy, Mary Anne, Claudia, and Stacey are in it for the ethics, not the money. They confront one of the girls about how her charge could’ve been killed or abducted and I was so, so sad for my younger, more anxious self that I hadn’t read this book then. These girls are SUCH good rule followers.
There’s this kind of weird, broken, Randian capitalist fantasy that runs through this (the Club wins because they’re selling the superior product, competition is good but monopolies are better, etc) but the book also has this really strong underpinning of a group of twelve year old girls feeling like they can take ownership over something.
That the story is paired with Stacey’s anxieties about not feeling in control over her body (because of her parents, not her diabetes), is really telling. She wants to be recognized as a fully responsible, independent agent capable of making her own decisions about her body and her life. The Club functions in much the same way but on a slightly larger scale. The BSC wants to be recognized for its competence – the girls are all having a first taste of how to negotiate the workplace as women, figuring out how to advocate for their skills and deal with haters.
It’s very Lean In in its liberalism but the story of four industrious twelve year old girls making a name for themselves is still really charming.
So I saw Tomorrowland yesterday and I really didn’t like it all that much. Couldn’t exactly put my finger on what was so off-putting about it until I read this review that called it Randian. And that’s it. It’s exactly like something that crazy-ass bitch Ayn Rand would write, with the secret society of intellectual elites or whatever. So anyway, if you want a good dose of happy, hopeful futuristic Disney, stick with Meet the Robinsons.