The Star Wars heartthrob, who has been enjoying intense newfound fame with the release of The Force Awakens, turned heads for a different reason this week, when a 2011 photo of him in an Atlas Shrugged T-shirt made the rounds.
What’s in a T-shirt? A lot, if it’s a perceived reference to libertarianism. Atlas Shrugged author Ayn Rand was a strident capitalist whose Objectivist philosophy is closely aligned with libertarian ideals. In recent years, the two have become virtually synonymous, in part thanks to a recent film adaptation of Atlas Shrugged and a new wave of interest in the book among young conservatives.
Isaac wore the T-shirt a full year before the longsuffering and critically panned Atlas Shrugged film trilogy debuted. But it’s been sparking puzzled double-takes from fans this year. Over the weekend, the controversy hit critical mass—and we reached peak Tumblr.
Tumblr’s social-justice community has been heavily mocked and parodied for its catchphrase “your fave is problematic.” The phrase is a way of calling out potentially troubling things that fans’ favorite celebrities may have done or said. It is usually followed by a list of allegedly “problematic” incidents.
Lately, the “problematic” callout has become something of a joke, often followed by a list of funny and inoffensive quirks. And the “problematic” meme turned into a hilarious viral Tumblr moment on Monday, because Isaac’s T-shirt straddles a weird line between genuinely bothersome and hilariously trivial, a line tailored to send Tumblr users into a frenzy.
Naturally, there was plenty of confusion.
Buzz over the shirt quickly spread to Twitter, where mockery ensued.
Me: oscar isaac is perfect and unproblematic— kai (@plantblogger) January 4, 2016
(sees picture of oscar isaac wearing atlas shrugged tshirt)
it's so funny how everyone is freaking out over oscar isaac wearing an atlas shrugged tee like 5 years ago when he's. a millionaire.— 巫 cairo (@MlDNIGHTER) January 4, 2016
The Oscar Isaac Atlas Shrugged T-Shirt thing is basically the perfect example of Tumblr's weird autodidactism in action.— Harry J (@hazbaz) January 5, 2016
If only Oscar Isaac had anticipated the rise of Tumblr culture in 2011, we might all have been spared this embarrassment.
Isaac’s publicist did not respond to a request for comment, but Daily Dot lead illustrator Jason Reed did make this graphic for us.
Correction: The photo of Isaac in the Ayn Rand T-shirt is from 2011.
Photo via raccooninthegirlslockerroom/Tumblr