Cliff Asness, the managing partner of AQR Capital Management (one of the world’s biggest hedge funds), has sent an email urging friends to see the film “Atlas Shrugged,” the adaptation of the novel by Ayn Rand.
Much of the press about the movie gets its message wrong, Asness explains. It does not lionize business or wealth.
“The heroes are not ‘businessmen’ and the villains ‘government’. The book and movie clearly show the heroes are liberty loving creators and the villains totalitarian thieves—and those thieves come in the form of big business crony capitalists (those who don’t create but use the state’s power to steal to enrich themselves) as often as government apparatchiks (and never the defenseless poor),” he writes in the post script.
(Full disclosure: I was supposed to go to a screening of ‘Atlas Shrugged’ last night but a last minute conflict kept me away.)
Here’s the letter:
Date: Apr 27, 2011 10:58 AM
Subject: A movie recommendation: Go see Atlas Shrugged
I’ve sent to this distribution list essays on limited government, and wonky quant finance papers. Now a movie recommendation (that is itself kind of a mini-essay on limited government).
Go see Atlas Shrugged. I did and loved it.
The critics hate it like socialist cats in the bath. The movie’s producer, a hero of mine, is close to shrugging (see link below).
It’s hard to spend money, time, and blood on something, and have the critics savage it (which sadly matters a lot to success if not at all to truth), and go on.
I am telling you it’s good. Particularly if what you’re looking for is a rather straight (though adopted for modern times) telling of the story. Does it have its amateurish moments and characteristics?
Sure. It was made for a trifle by Hollywood standards. The same critics that, if this tiny amount of money was spent on a poorly produced and acted “Indie” film, that happened to be about a hermaphrodite Palestinian boy who after escaping fascist Israeli persecution moves to Texas to face fascist American persecution (and isn’t immediately granted his full “right” to all the healthcare the USA can afford), would sing it’s praises and laud it’s signs of a tight budget as “authentic.”
I’m not sure if we have art imitating life or the other way around, but the critics are themselves Randian characters. They have an agenda—punish those who love liberty and have the temerity to defend it, then go to parties and be lauded by their friends for their heroic progressivism. And if they can make some snobby lies about cinematography along the way, more the better. (note—a small minority of critics have not seemed ideologically motivated, with them I simply disagree thinking they are using the wrong standard)
The book was also savaged by critics of the left and right in 1957, but loved by its giant number of readers beyond almost all others.
History is repeating, but that’s because sadly little has changed. We have to fix that. On Rotten Tomatoes (wouldn’t the left love for me to have left off the “e”?) the critics have been running, wait for it, 6% for the movie, 94% against. The people have been running 85% for the movie. Now, you could argue that the people have tended to be Rand fans so that’s biased. That’s a bad argument. Rand fans would be the first, the absolute first, to savage it if it wasn’t a good movie (have you ever seen Rand fans agree on anything except loving Rand?).
If you love the book, if you like the book, if you are at all open to the arguments in the book, you will love this movie. If you’re a leftist who hates liberty, or a snob who enjoys destroying civilisation with your superior-sounding mendacity, you probably won’t like it so much.
Go see the movie.
p.s. The movie superbly preserves a message from the book that gives the lie to so much the left says about it. The heroes are not “businessmen” and the villains “government”. The book and movie clearly show the heroes are liberty loving creators and the villains totalitarian thieves—and those thieves come in the form of big business crony capitalists (those who don’t create but use the state’s power to steal to enrich themselves) as often as government apparatchiks (and never the defenseless poor). Look for this. The movie and book are honest, the critics are not.