Thursday, May 28, 2015

Tomorrowland: 'Atlas Shrugged reimagined by Mickey Mouse'

That unintentionally revealing headline appears at Reason in a discussion of the movies of Brad Bird. The article suggests, I think correctly, that the spirit of Ayn Rand hovers over these films; that these films have an esoteric message and that message is Randian Objectivism.

Before going on, here's a question: Was Ayn Rand a libertarian? Or was she a frustrated oligarch? Keep those questions in the back of our head.

Back to the article. Here's a sample paragraph:
The Incredibles (2004)? "Here, an ungrateful (i.e. complacent, average, worthless) public bands together to force superbeings into a life of mediocrity, so terrified are they of anything powerful or special. The film's villain, who embraces envy as much as Rand rejected it, also has a half-cocked scheme to mass-produce superpowered weapons, laying out Bird's guiding philosophy in one tidy pull quote: 'When everyone's super, no one will be.'"
It's the sort of vision one can easily imagine a lonely young boy coming up with in his bedroom at night. The key difference being that lonely adolescents don't have super powers and, because they don't, they have no choice but to make their separate peace with the world.

Why do the incredibles have superpowers? The answer is because the script says they do. But what do we do in real life where there is no script, no animation and, most importantly, no one has superpowers?

There were geeks and there were bullies (equally divided between mean girls, thugs and the jocks) at my high school as is the case for just about every high school. The geeks were dead certain they were smarter than the bullies. They certainly got better marks but they did not get the best marks at the school, that honour went to some very neat, obedient and hard-working girls whom no one took seriously despite their high academic achievement and, as it turned, never amounted to much in life.

Every once in a while, though, one of the geeks would challenge one of the bullies to a battle of wits. The thing that always impressed me about these showdowns was how often the geeks lost. But they always thought they'd win, probably because the superhero script they had in their heads said they should win.

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