Those Rand-y Republicans: Nine Films That Espouse The New GOP's Libertarian Mindset
Thanks to absolutist firebrands such as Rand and Ron Paul, laissez-faire economic sentiment has been gaining momentum in the GOP for some time. But with the nomination of deficit hawk wunderkind — and notable Ayn Rand devotee — Paul Ryan as Mitt Romney's running mate, movement libertarianism has officially been added to the Republican presidential platform.
Regardless of whether Romney is elected and Ryan’s controversial budget proposals are made law, the rebranding has already created two decisive effects: first, it has excited the fiscal-conservative base enough to warrant representation at the penultimate level; and second, it has convinced swaths of more marginal voters, who vaguely recall skimming through Atlas Shrugged as undergrads, that they were ardent “objectivists” all along.
In honor of the libertarian strain of Republicanism getting its RNC coronation this week, here are the top nine films that evoke a reverie for free markets and, in some cases, the dystopian nightmare that's sure to follow if we ignore Rand's literary prophecy.
1. Top Gun (1986): Many conservatives credit Ronald Reagan with bringing down the Berlin Wall and ending the Cold War. Cineastes know it was Maverick and Goose. The recently deceased Tony Scott’s pop art masterpiece did for capitalism what Eisenstein’s innovation of montage did for Bolshevism. (Just substitute the jittery stomping of horses with more photogenic F-16 fighter jets.) Today's audiences smirk at the towel-clad locker-room romping and blue-jeaned volleyball homoeroticism, but the convergence of "Danger Zone" aerial balletics and the mega-wattage of a then 23-year-old Tom Cruise is still enough to raise long-dormant goose-bumps for American exceptionalism.
2. Casablanca (1942) : Humphrey Bogart’s Rick runs the best casino-bar in town, traffics in guns for African rebels, and appeases the Nazi occupation just to keep it all in the black. He is the archetype of the cutthroat entrepreneur: “I stick my neck out for nobody,” he unhesitatingly declares. Randians will rejoice as Rick wheels and deals in dubious moral territory with the stoic confidence of a man who believes doing what makes sense for Rick is the only true imperative. Just make sure to tune out before the last act when Bogey’s iconic hero contrives a plot for the good of humanity capped with the ultimate act of altruism: saying goodbye to Ingrid Bergman.
3. The Dark Knight Rises (2012): Yes, Christian Bale as Batman selflessly gives nearly everything to save his fellow Gothamites in the concluding chapter of Christopher Nolan’s magnum opus trilogy - including an attempt to develop a MacGuffin fusion technology. Free socialized energy for the whole world! Yet, the politics of Nolan's franchise are more inscrutable than Bane’s face mask-muffled line readings. A short list of the thematic evocations, in no particular order, include: 9/11, the subprime crash, Occupy Wall Street, kangaroo-court tyranny, class warfare and vigilante justice. Alas, none of these threads cohere into a mission-statement that transcends the film’s deafening soundtrack, or its grimly self-serious hero mythology. Because the leftist aspirations of Bruce Wayne are so dwarfed by the narrative’s hodge-podge of political themes, avowed libertarians should simply enjoy this film’s spectacular set-pieces while delighting in the bleak vision of a militarized proletariat revolution. Hint: it mostly involves sending the “productive class” on a short-walk over a thinly frozen East River.