Outrageous Fortune

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Ellsworth Toohey, the villain in Ayn Rand’s famous novel, “The Fountainhead,” is an intellectual foe of individualism. One of his ideas is that people need to be protected from having too many choices.

Unfortunately, Toohey’s question-begging rhetoric is now being followed by people who may never have heard of him. Marc Gunther, writing on July 12 for the online version of Fortune (of all places) suggests that “the explosion of choice has left us poorer”; our original sin of choosing has taken over our souls, diminishing the power and influence of the mainstream media, which formerly held a monopoly of the news, and denying consumers a collective experience.

Apparently, if you can’t name “the biggest star in prime- time television,” or”a star created by the Internet” (trick quesion: there isn’t one, and there probably never will be, according to Gunther), or “a great advertising slogan created in this decade,” then you are culturally poorer.

Don’t ask for the definition of “great” or “culture”; this is an article for Fortune, after all, where requests for the definition of key terms are simply proof that you are culturally impoverished. That means you, not writers for the mainstream media. You should already know this, just as you should know that “public” means”anyone but you” and “unselfishness” means “contributing to any self except your own.”

Gunther’s worries about increased choice make me wonder whether he chose to write his article, or just let himself be coerced by some benevolent force. But there is a consistency in his presentation: no discussion link. People could actually make dangerous choices if they were allowed to comment on anything from the mainstream media. Fortune’s website

preserved what’s left of the richness of our one- culture souls by enforcing the moderate and responsible no-comments-allowed rule.

“Big stars, hit TV shows and even commercials help knit a society together. Think of the feeling that comes a few times a year – the morning after the Super Bowl or the Oscars – when tens of millions of Americans share a common experience.” I never knew so many hangovers and Oscar-gawkings could be the key to bliss.

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