Nightcrawler is essentially what an Ayn Rand novel should be if we were expected to root for Jake G.’s character. It’s written far-better than any Rand novel, the characters (aside from Lou, though his character is written brilliantly and is what an A.R. character should be) are actual human beings rather than laughable and irritating cardboard cutouts of vaguely Arian supermen and women and evil mindless communists who care only about the collective good and will destroy the world to see their ideals meet reality – because that makes total sense. The female lead is specifically a vast improvement to an Ayn Rand bimbo. Instead of being a “Superwoman” prop fawning over Henry Rearden, John Galt or Roark, she starts out as merely a somewhat unethical and self-serving woman to be corrupted over to Lou’s Objectivist ways. If he wasn’t trying to blackmail a woman who wasn’t already vaguely sociopathic he wouldn’t have had a chance, what makes the film brilliant and always believable is that he’s interacting with people who are at-least to some degree financially insecure and have internalized Right-wing Capitalist culture.
The two largest improvements however are the structuring of scenes and the dialogue. My god is this movie a breath of cool fresh air particularly when compared to a Rand novel. I could’ve reworded those two to say that the main improvements are the dialogue and the amount of dialogue. In this movie the scene takes precedence and directs the dialogue and the deeper meaning within; in a Rand novel the scenes exist only for cheap, transparent propaganda that is stated both explicitly (which is almost always the wrong way to convey something artistically) and poorly. In my Purge Anarchy analysis I may have said that the film should be shown as a counter-example to Rand. I take that back completely and wish to replace it with this film in its stead.
How he is willing to do anything to get the job done fits the Objectivist ethics of Rational Self-interest above all other things to a tea. His way of speaking only perfects his Rand-esque traits. But he’s realistic. He’s not hailed as some “Ubermensch” John Galt God. He’s a sociopath – once again, making this film a more entertaining, intelligent and realistic version of what Rand’s novels are while showing the horrible nature of what her characters truly are once you get past the near-constant allusions to their jaw lines. Also the scene where he briefly mentions he dislikes people is a far=more realistic version of a similar scene in There Will be Blood. The oil-pumping Capitalist suddenly showing his sociopathy simply because he believes he’s found his brother in a rather hammy way was a cheap and inappropriate (or not rational to what we know of the character and is a sloppy way of inserting scary sounding dialogue into the film to inform the audience of the main character who was frankly bland most of the way through) ploy; Lou telling his partner (or intern) that he’ll kill him (more-or-less) if he doesn’t do what he says is absolutely believable both in-regards to what we know of the character and the context of the scene.
The film shows quite well that in our society even the evening news, that which is supposed to be without a doubt unbiased and simply a objective reporting of daily reality; instead news corporation use the news as an avenue for views (to make money, but also to propagate their own views implicitly) rather than having said views being predicated on the integrity and intent of portraying the news and a market for sensationalism and fear could be seen as an analogy for the State-Capitalist system (particularly the GOP) in general. Using fear to put the people into compliance and caring more about profits than selling a decent product or services to increase one’s standards of living, or have a Government that exists to secure the property rights of the Capitalists both through force and propaganda, rather than be a tool of justice to secure the opportunity and freedom of all individuals which it would be whether it was working from a Consequentialist or Deontological framework that saw negative and positive rights as guaranteed for all. Also it could be argued that racialist (if not racist) narratives of reality are implicitly depicted in the news to prevent class-based narratives which are far more accurate and dangerous to the financial and political security of the ruling class.
Some could argue this is equally Nietzschean. Instead I feel it highlights the distinction ‘tween Nietzsche and Rand. Rand would support almost every action this person does – for those who would say she believes in human rights, remember she supported the slaughter of Native Americans and said that a murderer was the embodiment of her “superman” – while Nietzsche would say that though Lou is living dangerously and defining himself and his values (in a way that it is debatable whether or not Nietzsche would approve of but for the sake of argument let us say he does or would) he still is subservient in his role to others. He is not creative, which seems to be the highest form of Will to Power for Nietzsche (this is one reason why he talks about the need to conquer everything weak inside yourself, and once you have done this you won’t want to rule over others) and instead only records the suffering of others. Which seems to be another analogy for State-Capitalism. By recording his fellow sufferers he is aiding the preservation of suffering in a minute but definite way. Namely by instilling fear and encouraging draconian measures and an attitude of blood-lust and conservatism (e.g. racialism, hatred for the poor, favoring punishment over rehabilitation and proper material conditions etc) over compassion and understanding of the nature of society, humanity and cause-and-effect as-a-whole.
By shooting suburban crime he is in his own small way helping to perpetuate it by sustaining the mentality which allows and encourages the conditions and policies which foster the very crimes that such policies and the distribution of information in the form of news is meant to deter. By failing to be creative Lou not only copies others (taking the job at-first only to make money) to live a life without meaning or purpose, he is recreating the nightmare of the American society day-by-day as are all who fail to do anything creative or enlightening and therefore are passive to and are tools of the propagation of the American Dream fantasy. This division ‘tween fantasy and reality is another thing to be compared with Rand – her Free-market Ethics merged with the reality of their consequences namely poverty and servitude.
It is clear in her works that unlike Nietzsche she is not truly a lover of philosophy or knowledge and instead is the propagator of the Virtue of the Clever Rat. That is a small-minded clod who is devious and intelligent in his own small field but possesses no greater wisdom or sight into such questions of the nature of reality (other than A=A) and our understanding of it which Rand was clearly incredibly ignorant to and naïve and simplistic on. Much like the Capitalist who trains the employee to be clever or excel at his job but overall entirely ignorant of all grand concepts of ethics, wisdom and imagination. To briefly reiterate, in its depiction of psychology, dependency, insecurity and exploitation it not only brilliantly depicts and satirizes Rand, more-or-less the extent that America has embraced her values but the consequences of doing so.