Though American Idol does air tonight, I’m actually not talking about Randy Jackson, but instead Ayn Rand.

With this week’s limited release of the long awaited movie version of ATLAS SHRUGGED and the Tea Party’s love for Ayn Rand, the interwebs are all a-buzz.

If you don’t know who John Galt is, and haven’t gotten around to reading the book – this is your chance to catch up.  Though the movie is currently only showing in around 300 theaters, word is that number will be increasing quickly.  If you’re looking for a theater near you, check this site:

I personally read ATLAS SHRUGGED for the first time this past fall and would love to share my thoughts on the book but have to admit I’m a little afraid.  Mainly because my mom is really into it and she reads these posts and I don’t want to get in trouble.  But here goes nothing:

At the most basic level, I understand and agree that an individual should have every right to create, produce and earn from his talents and abilities and should not be forced to share with the takers.  But (and this is a big butt), I think the book was overly simplistic and characters one dimensional.  The theory assumes that all bright intelligent people are also highly moral and will put their minds towards positive production.  This production will ultimately benefit society as a whole and there in turn would be no need for charity (which is seen as a dirty word).  This plays out in the book and is illustrated by the rail system and what happens to the everyday folk when it goes away.  Loss of jobs, morale, health, etc.

In today’s society that is not always the case.  We’ve seen plenty of our “brightest minds” prey on the weak, perjure themselves and make money not by production but by moving paper and hedging their bets.  And what about outsourcing?  As all the successful capitalists move their jobs abroad, what happens to the hard workers in this country who can’t find work?  There’s no more jobs on the Taggart Transcontinental Rail – everything has been automated and the call centers are all run out of India.  How does the theoretical railroad help society now?  Sure it still moves supplies and people but it’s not creating jobs anymore.

Listen, I’m not a political expert by any stretch of the imagination but it does feel like the book makes more sense in an industrial age than a digital one.  But again… not an expert, so feel free to rip my arguments to shreds.  With all of that said, I DO believe the book still stands as an excellent conversation starter.   I don’t think it stands alone as the answer.

Putting the politics and rhetoric aside, I think ATLAS SHRUGGED would never have been published in today’s world.  For one, it’s way too long and could’ve done with a lot of editing in my opinion.  I know all you Ayn Rand purists are calling for my head on platter at this point.  But seriously, from a literary perspective I found it a bit repetitive and often preachy.  Just sayin’.

Now having risked putting my thoughts out there… let me add three short points.

1 – I AM glad I read the book.  I liked it for the most part and did feel challenged by it in many ways.
2 – I WILL go see the movie most likely.  Or maybe I’ll wait for it to be on Netflix.  But I will see it.
3 – Sorry Mom.  🙁

— Dana Barrett, Managing Editor