The big film news today may be that Camille Paglia just declared the lava-spewing finale of Revenge of the Sith to be the greatest work of art in any medium in thirty years – but today also brings two politically-interesting films, Atlas Shrugged II and Argo.
•The latter’s end was reportedly slightly altered from its initial script in response to criticism from Canadians, who did not want their big role in the story downplayed. The movie tells the true story of Canadian diplomats and the CIA smuggling threatened staffers out of Iran in the wake of its 1979 Islamic revolution. What really mandates that geeks like me see it, though, is that science fiction played a big role in the whole mission.
The CIA agents pretended to be a film crew producing a sci-fi film in Iran. My guess is that Argo (for copyright reasons) will depict a film-within-the-film different from the rather impressive (fake) one planned in real life, which was (ostensibly) to be an adaptation of Roger Zelazny’s great novel Lord of Light, about scientists who have modeled an entire planet – and their own vast cybernetic powers – after the Hindu gods, to the extent that generations later, that world effectively just is the world of Hindu gods and believers.
The CIA actually got famed comics artist Jack Kirby to do costume designs for the pseudo-gods – and I heard about the purported film as a kid reading Comics Scene magazine back in 1979. Supposedly, there would even be an amusement park. For years after the fake project dissolved, rumor (or cover story) had it that the producers had simply been “con men.” Only relatively recently did I learn they were actually the CIA. If Argo does well, maybe it’s time for someone to pitch a real Lord of Light movie after all. I’d see it. India would see it.
(Not far from Canada, by the way, another political/media wrinkle of note: leading Senate candidate Angus King, an independent, has a son who is an offensive racist Twitter user.)
•I also wish last night’s Ryan/Biden vice presidential debate had consisted largely of Biden asking Ryan whether he plans to see Atlas Shrugged Part II (in theatres today). That might really have gotten our political culture to its necessary “endgame” ahead of schedule (or is it already far, far too late?). Ryan’s not the only one in politics right now with Randian influences, of course. You may not have noticed, but after some in-fighting at the libertarian Cato Institute, it was an Objectivist who emerged as president of that organization: former bank president John Allison (author of the bestseller The Financial Crisis and the Free Market Cure).
My enthusiasm for Rand is much more tempered than Allison’s (I understand why she sounds sociopathic to many normal readers – and I am not shocked to learn that her unpublished first novel, The Little Street, had a protagonist partly inspired by a real-life serial killer, who Rand regarded, perversely, as a warped embodiment of Nietzsche’s superman).
To create balance between Rand’s vision and the general culture, though, maybe in Atlas Shrugged Part III, where we see more of the crucial yet shadowy John Galt character, we should cast someone who is widely beloved but is not quite a Nietzschean superman. I’ve narrowed it down to five candidates, so you can tell which you prefer:
(A) William Shatner
(B) Patrick Stewart
(C) Woody Allen
(D) Alex Jones
(E) Bill Gates
But, you know, they’re all good. I will say that Alex Jones, though a wacko conspiracy theorist, could very convincingly play someone who rants about liberty on the radio for hours on end. Right? Right?
On a more serious note, here is Brian Doherty’s review at Reason of the film, and embedded within it former MTV VJ Kennedy’s interview with cast members from the film. Oddly enough, it is not Kennedy herself who uses the phrase “monkey sex” in the clip.
•My friendly mockery should not be construed to mean that I am anything less than a hardcore anarcho-capitalist, and indeed, here is footage of me moderating that debate on the financial crisis between Peter Schiff and Richard Carnell.