EDITORIAL: Will Watching Ender’s Game Make You A Bad Person?
Orson Scott Card is feeling the heat for comments he made against gay marriage, but just because the author of a work like Ender’s Game has homophobic tendencies, does that mean you shouldn’t see the movie adaptation?
Not that anyone who considers seeing this movie really cares about the recent backlash, it’s always best to address these things when they become so incredibly hypocritical.
With the recent victory of basic civil rights over the insanely unconstitutional DOMA act, frenzy to impugn those who spoke out against gay marriage is at an all time high. Now is the time of ‘I told you so’ and ‘you were wrong, I was right’. Nobody, not even the most tolerant and open people are immune to the appeal of the witch-hunt.
With that set in full motion, the criminally ill-timed movie adaptation Orson Scott Card’s (classic?) Ender’s Game, set for a November release, had a big bright cross-hairs painted on it from the get-go.
All the way back in the 1990’s, Card spoke out against gay marriage and continued to defend his opinion amidst strong criticism. Only recently DC comics was slammed for bringing Scott Card onto one of its most famous properties and he soon left the project after vocal public backlash.
Now we’re being told by the fine folks over at geeksout.org and by the tolerant community in general, that we must avoid Ender’s Game at all costs http://geeksout.org/blogs/jono/dont-see-enders-game
Although boycotting a property created by a massive team of hard-working professionals, a lot of whom couldn’t care any less about the author’s opinions, may seem like a suitable recourse to not having one’s rights respected, the truth is the movie adaptation has tried to distance itself as far as possible from Scott Card, and understandably so.
Does Orson Scott Card’s homophobia make his work homophobic? The Reverend Lovejoy put it best when he said “‘short answer: yes, with an ‘if’, long answer: no, with a ‘but’”. Will you become a homophobe if you read his books or watch movie adaptations of his work? No, plain and simple.
I’m a big fan of the philosophy that authors, in the literary medium, should keep their mouths shut when it comes to matters outside their work. Not because writers don’t know anything about the world around them; they have to be very aware of that kind of thing to do what they do, but because anything they say or do may be used against them in the public eye. Their stances on things like that automatically taints their work. If you were to find out that J.K Rowling fully endorsed the clubbing of baby seals, would you enjoy Harry Potter any less? Ok. Bad example.
Edgar Rice Burroughs was very much a sexist. H.P Lovecraft was vocally racist. And it can be argued that Ian Fleming didn’t always write impartially about the fairer sex. These and many other authors took stances that are now considered very out-dated and downright mean-spirited, but even today we still read and enjoy their work.
When I first read Ender’s Game, I was lucky enough to be unaware of the author’s right-wing leanings. I’m the kind of person who can’t help but immediately judge something based on prior information. Aren’t we all? I had heard of that ‘bad man’ writing for Superman over at DC but hadn’t yet connected those dots. I enjoyed the book; it was well-written, well thought and worked great as a sci-fi. The idea that children were being trained to extinguish an extra-terrestrial threat was very appealing. Who better to cope with big bad aliens than minds that haven’t yet succumbed to rigid adult reality? And in this decade of thwarting alien invasions and committing mass Xenocides with impunity, it was refreshing to read a story wherein things like that have disastrous effects on the characters involved. It might be easy for Superman to destroy the remaining population of his home planet and level half of Metropolis in the process, but some of us may feel distinct qualms about causing that kind of destruction.
I remember every now and then being put off by a lot of suggestive stuff in Ender’s Game (the fight in the shower) considering it was a novel about children growing up, anyone who has read it will know what I mean. But all in all, it was a good read. I liked it enough to read the subsequent Speaker for the Dead and have yet to work my way up to Ender’s Shadow.
One criticism I did have about Ender’s Game was the Forward and Notes section from the author. Not because it was laced the homophobic ravings of a madman, not because I was afraid of becoming a homophobe myself just by reading it (that’s silly) but because these were the distinct annotations of a man who ‘gets off on his own supply’ as the saying goes. Someone you meet at a party who talks for the sake of hearing their own voice and marveling at how clever they are isn’t the kind of person you’re going to be taking moral lessons from. This was obviously a man who wanted to be heard, if not necessarily listened to. That bears keeping in mind; in a society where kids are customarily thrown in prison for saying stupid things over the social media, and people are stigmatized for their small-mindedness, freedom of speech is now more of a guideline than an actual rule.
So now we’re forced to answer a very childish question: are you actively funding homophobia by purchasing a ticket for this movie? Not at all. You’re paying the people who put their time and effort into creating a piece of entertainment, not a propaganda film (although this IS arguably a film about propaganda).
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