Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Ender's Game

I was once a big Orson Scott Card fan.  The number of Orson Scott Card books I own may still outnumber any single other author on the dozens of bookshelves in my home.  I read his works voraciously in college and in my early 20s.  I read the Ender saga, the Alvin Maker series, the Homecoing Saga, and assorted other books and short stories of his.  I recently re-read Ender's Game and still enjoyed it.  At some point in reading his books, however, I suddenly stopped, because I felt like I was reading the same story over and over again -- the same boy messiah saving the human race -- and I disagreed with the theology underpinning it.  But I enjoyed all those stories of his up until that time.  I still do, when I read them.  I recently re-read Ender's Game and found myself wanting to read them all over again, or start reading the later books in the series that I never read, or the Shadow Saga.

But between the time I was the big Orson Scott Card fan and now, I learned a lot about Orson Scott Card's politics, politics I find much more dangerous and objectionable that the issue of his messiah figures.  Orson Scott Card has been very outspoken against same-sex marriage and LGBT people in general, as well as saying some really negative things about President Obama, comparing him to Hitler.  Card was on the board of an organization devoted to opposing same-sex marriage in California. In an op-ed he wrote:
What these dictator-judges do not seem to understand is that their authority extends only as far as people choose to obey them.
How long before married people answer the dictators thus: Regardless of law, marriage has only one definition, and any government that attempts to change it is my mortal enemy. I will act to destroy that government and bring it down, so it can be replaced with a government that will respect and support marriage, and help me raise my children in a society where they will expect to marry in their turn.
So now Ender's Game is a movie, opening this week, and the old Orson Scott Card fan in me really wants to see it, and the activist in me wants to boycott it.  And there are people calling for a boycott

As I read the arguments against boycott from LGBT-friendly sources, I find many of them full of fallacies.  For example, one writer says:
But I have decided I will go see it in the spirit in which I still read Dickens and Shakespeare, dig into Norse mythology, listen to Wagner.
 The problem with this argument is that Wagner isn't currently able to help promote Nazism by our listening to him now.  Orson Scott Card, however, is still actively campaigning.  Another argument states:
In a world where ethical consumerism is sometimes the best way to get our point across, art is a murky zone. Did you watch Chinatown, Rosemary’s Baby, or perhaps the queer film Bitter Moon, by director Roman Polanski, the man who raped a 13-year-old? From Mel Gibson, whose hideous anti-Semitic and sexist diatribes are now legendary, to Chris Brown, Cee-Lo Green, O.J. Simpson, Charlie Sheen, Axl Rose, Alec Baldwin, Donna Summer, 50 Cent, Amanda Bynes, and many more, people have committed crimes that range from uttering slurs to rape, battery, and murder.
 Well, actually I've avoided giving any money to Roman Polanski by not seeing any of his films in the theater.  And once I learned of Mel Gibson's anti-semitism I've avoided seeing him in the theater.  Basically, when an artist starts promoting hate, I do try to avoid paying money for that artist's works. 

The best argument for seeing Ender's Game is the argument put forward by the filmmakers and Harrison Ford that says their film is made by a lot of pro-LGBT people and has pro-LGBT themes, and they're going to do a benefit for the LGBT community.  Furthermore, some are saying that no money is going to Orson Scott Card directly from the film, as he sold the rights years ago. 

But a successful Ender's Game does benefit Orson Scott Card, as it will encourage the film industry to make more of his books, particularly those in the Ender Saga, into films.  And Card will make money from those films, as well.  There's just no way that a successful Ender's Game would not be a positive for Orson Scott Card's bottom line.

However, I'm sympathetic to the outreach of Lionsgate to the LGBT community and the way they're distancing the film from Card's views.  And that prompts me to offer a compromise to myself: If I go see Ender's Game, then I will give the amount of my ticket price directly to an organization working for same-sex marriage or liberal politics to offset the gain in Card's pocket, much like offsetting a carbon footprint.  The question, then, however, is whether I continue to do so for any future Card movies, since I arguably contributed to the success that made those films possible, and I would have to say yes.  My hope, however, is by the time another movie got made, we will have won this fight.

So that's my solution for now, although I haven't tossed it past my husband yet, who is also leaning towards an Ender boycott.  Let me know what you all think out there.  How are you handling the question of Ender's Game, if it's a work you, too, enjoyed in the past?

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

I think I have read and re-read every book in the series of Enders, Et al. Were I to learn I'd missed one I wouldn't check out of the library.

I've known of his hateful views but that one quote you included suggests outright Taliban...

Joel Monka said...

The problem with offsetting contributions is that they don't address the direct purpose of a boycott: to express disapproval. All the studio sees is your ticket purchase, and their natural presumption is that you'd want to see more Card movies, so they'd buy more rights, thus benefiting Card. A ticket purchase is a ticket purchase, and a donation is a donation; there is no functional connection between the two.

I feel dishonest in saying this in a way, as I've not yet read any Card (He's on my list, I just haven't worked my way down yet), and I go to so few movies first run that it's unlikely I'd have seen it anyway- I'm not struggling with the disappointed fan's dilemma. But the logic of the situation says that an offsetting contribution matters only to one's own feelings, and not to the boycott.