Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Move Over Scientology, Here Comes Beckopolis!

By Nathan Rothwell

Apparently Glenn Beck wants to start a cult town.

Now, before we get too worked up over this, odds are that this plan will never come to fruition. Beck’s schemes are usually never fully realized, due to a combination of mismanaged execution and his own hubris. Remember the “Restoring Honor” rally, where Beck had originally hoped that as many as 300,000 people would crowd the National Mall to hear his 100-year plan to save America? As it turned out, only about a third of that projection actually attended. And the great “transformation” Beck hyped for months turned out to be nothing more than a proclamation of his love for the Mormon Jeebus.

So there’s an excellent chance that Beck’s proposed city/theme park hybrid (entitled “Independence, USA”) never actually materializes. Or if it does, the amount of attendance it actually gets will make Euro Disney look like a huge success by comparison. All things being considered, outrage doesn’t seem warranted. But that doesn’t mean we can’t take a look at the pre-hype hoopla and make lots and lots of fun of it.


The front entrance “is based on Ellis Island,” Beck explains. “Everybody that would come through would come through the front gate… through Ellis Island. And the reason why we put Ellis Island there is because that’s how most of us, or our families came through.”


“We’re pre-screening you bastards before any one of you gets into my dreamtown! And you can’t bring any stuff with you, either!” You’ve got to hand it to Beck here, with his use of descriptive language to transform the hallmarks of joining a cult (appeasing Dear Leader, giving up worldly possessions) into reliving an episode of American history.

Actually, I take that back. Many think of Emma Lazarus’ “huddled masses yearning to breathe free” when picturing Ellis Island, which conveniently omits the ugly parts. Like the part where quotas on certain ethnic groups were enforced, or the part where officials could change your last name if it was too hard to pronounce, or just sounded too foreign-y.  Nothing enhances the theme park experience like making people stand in line to make sure they share in Beck’s delusions of grandeur / aren’t Muslim!


"There's not going to be a Gap here. There's no Ann Taylor. You want an Ann Taylor, go someplace else," says Beck. Instead there will be a marketplace, where people could open and run real small businesses and stores. The owners and tradesmen could hold apprenticeships and teach young people the skills and entrepreneurial spirit that has been lost in today’s entitlement state.”


“I know this is beginning to sound like a hippie commune, but it’s not! I hate hippies! We’re going to have our own marketplace where people can start their own businesses and capture the spirit of capitalism. They just can’t become so good at it that they eventually form a large multi-national corporation, because I suddenly decided I hate those.”

Seriously, where did this sudden hate for clothing retailers come from? I can’t really recall Beck ever wearing clothes that somebody even stitched in America, let alone by a small business. And last time I checked, multinational corporations have been very, very good to him. So suck on that corporations, you have no place in Becktown! (Again, I'm told this is not a commune).


Beck’s website claims that Independence USA is “heavily influenced by Walt Disney,” but minus the commercialization that caused “Disney’s original vision” to be lost.

However, an article on The Blaze (a website/news network also owned by Beck) hyping this project places the inspiration – where else? – with Atlas Shrugged. Independence USA will be a real life Galt’s Gultch, where its citizens can tear off “the oppression of an all-powerful government bent on tamping down the very incentives that give great minds a chance to flourish.”


“I don’t want anyone to think I’m just in this for the money. I want to teach people how to be capitalists, but not capitalists who are good enough to become wealthy or powerful. Again, this is NOT a hippie commune. This is my shrine to Ayn Rand, where this country’s great minds can flock to create and innovate not for commercial gain, but to help each other, and for the good of my community. And then we’ll… for the last time, THIS ISN’T A COMMUNE! GET OFF MY PHONE!!”

Let me get this straight. Is this supposed to be Disneyland, but subtracting the souvenirs and adding Beck’s name out front? Or is this a place where America’s top entrepreneurs decide to “go Galt” and give up all their money and prestige to open a shop in Beckopolis and stick it to the undeserving welfare state? That sounds like the sort of thing Bill O’Reilly always threatens to do, yet never seems to actually follow through.


According to Beck, it’s education. "Before you send your kids to college… you come to us. And you spend a week with us. We're gonna tell them exactly, we will show them the truth, we will tell them what they're going to try to do, and we will deprogram them every summer, if you care."


“Forget everything I said before, this is a cult. Just don’t tell anyone.”


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