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HOMOPHOBIA, TOLERANCE AND ENDER’S GAME

I’ve put off writing about the coming release of the movie, Ender’s Game, and my reaction to it. But this touches on something so important to me that I couldn’t just dismiss it. For those of you who might’ve been busy with your own life and thus missed the memo, I’ll give a little background.
Orson Scott Card, a science fiction and fantasy author, wrote a Young Adult novel several years ago, Ender’s Game, a classic piece about an otherwise unpromising boy from a rather ordinary family who is called to practice skills that will save humanity from the depravations of an alien invader. So far so good; an enthralling adventure tale that kids – especially boys – will respond to. I gave it to my own grandson to read. Jung and Campbell would recognize the version of the Hero’s Journey that unfolds here. I must admit that at the time I read the novel myself, I didn’t pick up on the questionable sub-texts, other than to wonder at the ethics of recruiting a young kid to commit genocide. But hey, mythic heroes frequently slaughter the opposition, and that’s the subject of a different blog. I ran into Scott a couple of times, on the SF convention circuit, and he was always pleasant to me – perhaps because we both shared a love of Rudyard Kipling which we’d discovered serving on a panel on “favorite authors.”
I began to read hostile reviews of Scott and his work, complaining that he was openly anti-gay. While that wasn’t a good thing in my eyes, I accepted that his church (he’s a Mormon) taught him intolerance just as mine taught me tolerance. I didn’t see that it made any difference to my acceptance/non-acceptance of his work. If we refuse to read work by authors who are assholes, we will soon find ourselves reading little but Disney versions of life.
Then came California’s Proposition 8, the anti-gay marriage struggle that was heavily funded by out-of-state entities such as the Mormon Church. And I became aware of the rants Card published about what he perceived as the evils of homosexuality. He didn’t do it just once; he did it over and over. I’ll spare you the rabid diatribes; you can look them up for yourself. Intolerant is too mild a word. He also contributed money to support Prop 8. After a while, the poison of his words was so sickening, I decided I couldn’t read any of his fiction again, mostly a personal issue between my beliefs and my reading preferences. Well, as you know, gay marriage is on its way to being accepted throughout the nation. And Ender’s Game has been made into a movie, with  – not unexpectedly – some outcries to boycott it.
To boycott something I dislike  is already a hard thing for me to decide, let alone try to influence others. Boycotting this film will hurt those who made it or acted in it, far more than Card, who has already been paid. So I was hesitating about what would be  “right action” for me here, when Card wrote the next chapter. Apparently getting wind of a proposed boycott against the film, he has publicly stated that the issue of gay marriage is now “moot,” and therefore people shouldn’t consider his previous statements as a reason not to see it. Note: No apologies for the hate speech. No acceptance of the damage his financial support of Prop 8 did to so many lives. No evidence of re-thinking his position. Just a plain, “It’s over. Give me the money.”
Am I overstating this situation? Possibly, but not by much. If anything, I am more appalled by the most recent statement than I am by the original verbal persecution. Hateful and hate-filled people can grow and change. After all, wasn’t Saul the persecutor of the Jews whom God called to become Paul the great apostle?  Orson Scott Card hasn’t grown or changed. He is still a hard-line, intolerant homophobe who wants us to be to tolerant of him. I for one will spend my money elsewhere.

Comments

Thanks for such a thoughtful post. Most of the time, I believe that a work (whether fiction, visual art, music, etc.) should stand on its own merits, not the political views of the creator. (Or how the works have been used historically - i.e., Wagner's operas.) The issue I have with Scott Card is that once I became aware of his homophobia, I couldn't read his stories any more -- I saw the underlying meanness of spirit that all too often veered into sadism, the thinly-disguised ranting, and the dubious ethics.