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Orson Scott Card Responds to Call for Ender’s Game Boycott

Thank You?

This is not a good year to be a company whose high-profile Orson Scott Card-affiliated project is coming to fruition. And this past month was not particularly a good one for folks who’ve been on the board of the U.S.’s biggest national anti-marriage equality lobbying group since 2009. The ethics of enjoying content related to or produced by someone who shares political views you are opposed can be uncomfortable enough without the added conflict of active participation and monetary support at very senior and organized levels of a powerful organization working at cross purposes to your political views. Summit Entertainment has been rumored to already be nervous about the backlash against its summer blockbuster Ender’s Game, based on Card’s seminal YA science fiction novel of the same name, and it’s hard not to see some studio pressure behind Card’s response (it cannot be called an apology) to well worded calls for a boycott of the movie.

As usual for this issue, I except a number of the readers of this article will not be familiar with Card’s activism, so I’ll quote myself from an earlier post:

Card’s status as a board member of the National Organization for Marriage, one of the largest and most well funded anti-gay activist groups in America, which works to prevent not only marriage equality but also civil union legislation and to legally prevent LGBTQ couples from adopting, is for many, including this writer, a different beast than mere personally held conservative views that might enter the subtext of a story or be voiced, when asked, by a writer or artist. Card has publicly expressed his views on gay marriage as worth overthrowing the government for, linked homosexuality with pedophilia, argued that marriage equality will lead to a world where parents who encourage their kids to date members of the opposite sex will be accused of hate speech, and has stated that he would prefer laws that criminalize consensual homosexual sex to stand and be enforced as a “message.” His presence on the board of NOM gives him more power to actually effect his opinions on others than your average celebrity with socially conservative political leanings.

In that context, I offer you his response to Geeks Out’s proposed boycott of Ender’s Game:

Ender’s Game is set more than a century in the future and has nothing to do with political issues that did not exist when the book was written in 1984.

With the recent Supreme Court ruling, the gay marriage issue becomes moot.  The Full Faith and Credit clause of the Constitution will, sooner or later, give legal force in every state to any marriage contract recognized by any other state.

Now it will be interesting to see whether the victorious proponents of gay marriage will show tolerance toward those who disagreed with them when the issue was still in dispute.

I don’t normally do this kind of thing, but lets go through this point by point. Ender’s Game is set more than a century in the future and was clearly not written as a text that deconstructed the political issues of LGBTQ equality and visibility that were absolutely present in the public consciousness in 1984. Come on. The Stonewall Riots were fifteen years old that year, and AIDS had only just been renamed from the “Gay Related Immune Deficiency” syndrome two years prior.

With the Supreme Court ruling, the gay marriage issue becomes moot, because we all know that since the Supreme Court decided that women in the U.S. have the right to elective abortions forty years ago, no state has ever tried to limit or qualify access to them.

The Full Faith and Credit clause of the Constitution will, sooner or later, give legal force in every state to any marriage contract recognized by any other state. Okay, there’s a statement that I can actually agree with in its entirety. Naturally, it’s followed up by probably the most teeth grindingly awful part of Card’s statement: Now it will be interesting to see whether the victorious proponents of gay marriage will show tolerance toward those who disagreed with them when the issue was still in dispute.

The unavoidable implication here is that Card considers that someone who chooses not to see his movie because they disagree with his politics to be intolerant, so lets be clear: no one is required to “tolerate” the attempts of other people to prevent them from doing a thing that harms no one. “Tolerate my intolerance” is not a valid request. If Card has perhaps apologized for his work to prevent LGBTQ families from gaining legal status under the law, this might be a different story, but what he’s actually asking is: “Hey, you just fought a long, protracted battle to get legal recognition of inalienable rights that were denied to you by, in many cases, an unfeeling majority, one that I tried to make as difficult as possible. I still think you deserve to be second class citizens, but I just lost that fight, so as a consolation prize could you go support my work anyway?”

I’m not here to argue whether anyone should spend money on the Ender’s Game movie or not. I firmly believe both that it is okay to enjoy media with problematic aspects so long as you acknowledge, explore, and do not attempt to justify those problematic aspects, and that the amount of enjoyment one can derive from something that was made by somebody with views they disagree with is different for every person. But I can say this: if you do disagree with Card’s activism and plan to purposefully see Ender’s Game, I suggest you do it according to any or all of the precepts laid out in Alyssa Rosenberg‘s great Ethical Guide to Consuming Content. If you plan to purposefully not see Ender’s Game because of Card’s activism, I suggest you do so in an organized, vocal fashion: talk to your friends about it, talk about it on social media, maybe even coordinate with the Geeks Out campaign.

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