Don't See Ender's Game

Ender's Game, Orson Scott Card's Nebula® and Hugo Award®-winning 1985 novel is getting a big-screen adaptation courtesy of X-Men Origins: Wolverine director (hasn't he done enough?!) Gavin Hood. Hollywood's lining up behind this as The Next Big Sci-Fi Movie Franchise, counting the geeky readers' dollars from the Twilight series and The Hunger Games. The impressive cast so far includes Hugo's Asa Butterfield as Ender, as well as Abigail Breslin, Hailee Steinfeld, Sir Ben Kingsley (if you're nasty), the otherwise flawless Viola Davis, and Han Solo himself, craggy icon Harrison Ford. That's serious money. Lionsgate recently moved the film's release date back to November 2013, closer to that of Catching Fire from the same studio.

Awesome, right? The book's regarded as a modern classic and its many devoted fans often call it "formative," one of those early reading experiences that cement a lifelong love of sci-fi. It's provocative, exciting, and it was chillingly prescient in an alarmist way about youth, violence, and video games. Lots and lots of people love it and are excited for the movie.

Personally, meh. I read it in my favorite teacher's social studies class in seventh grade. I liked it well enough, it didn't change my life. The xenophobia and naked kids were a turn-off and I didn't quite buy the ending (now long-forgotten), so I didn't read the sequels. And "hard" sci-fi wasn't (still isn't) my brand of soda—I preferred the superhero escapism of The Uncanny X-Men, Terry Brooks's ersatz-Tolkien Shannara books, and Piers Anthony's tortured puns in the Xanth series. So, for me, the controversy is pretty one-sided.

Oh right, the controversy! You see, Orson Scott Card, "sci-ficon" and ma-jillionaire author of Ender's Game, is an awful, gay-hating bigot! He's ON THE BOARD of the National Organization for Marriage, that bunch of funsters, and has published some pretty explicitly anti-gay screeds. I've gone round and round with some very close friends on the issues of separating an artist from his politics and whether the lasting contribution or widespread enjoyment of one's works outweighs one's personal beliefs or actions in the past. To me? Nope, and especially not if you're alive today working against gay rights. As I said, I don't really care about the books, so for me it's easy: This man is our enemy. As a board member of that hate group, he's actively campaigning against my rights. 

“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.”
—Orson Scott Card

Hi! So that's definitely beyond just having one's opinion or respecting one's faith (Card is a Mormon). That's AGAINST us.

What that means for the film—and the books and the comic books and any eventual merchandise—is that my Gay Dollar ain't goin' anywhere near it and I would very, very actively and loudly encourage yours to do the same. So, why isn't this being talked about? Hollywood's gayer than a flamingo on fire but it's show "business," OK? I mean, the movie's GONNA be made. No corporate studio is going to pull the plug based on the kooky, ugly rantings of a sci-fi author when a potentially huge movie franchise is developing. The topic remains for the present confined largely to queer blogs and predictably contentious comment sections on nerdy websites. Tor, Card's publisher, has some interesting posts on the subject, also with the comment culture-wars. Hopefully, nearer to the film's release and the eventual media circus surrounding it, some bear-poking journos will ask the filmmakers, actors, and executives behind the film—as well as Card himself—about these connections.

It's not that I begrudge the livelihoods of the actors or the many hundreds of people employed by a film production this size, nor those of anyone from Card's publishing house. Far from it, but MY dollar is MY vote in these mercenary times and I'll be damned if I'll give it to one of the board members of NOM. Ender's Game director Gavin Hood adapted the novel for the film and I have no info on Card's deal with the studio, but it's impossible to imagine the potential financial success of the movie and future book sales won't further enrich him. Queer fans of the book who overlook Card's actions and affiliations are putting gay money in NOM's pocket. Those who insist the film's got nothing to do with the source material's author's politics are rationalizing. A rising tide lifts all boats—good folks will benefit from the movie's success (Viola Davis!)—but let's get real.

Defenders can sagely point out that if you researched the politics of your favorite artists and only read / watched / listened to those whom you agreed with 100% you'd have no one left. That's a conveniently reasonable generalization and it's not on me to prove a negative, but it's not entirely untrue nor beside the point. As a concept or a discussion point it's well and good, but here and now, in these very real times, this guy's on the fucking board of NOM and I'm not giving him any of my money. Are you? That's what the Gay Dollar is about, that's what it's for. In modern politics, being a demographic with spending money is POWER. Geeks OUT itself is about finding and utilizing the power of this community. How responsibly are we using our power if we're enriching our enemies?

I have no problem whatsoever totally passing on the movie and vowing never again to purchase (firsthand) another of Card's books. It's my money and I can decide not to support those who would see me and mine oppressed or slandered. But I know many fine, upstanding queer geeks who live for these books and are psyched for the movie. They're conflicted, their betrayal and bewilderment run deep. What to do? Support your local library! Borrow a book or buy it from a used (and queer-run, irony!) bookshop or off of eBay. Go to the film if you're moved to, but, without explicity or implicitly endorsing or suggesting any illegal activity, I hope you at least sneak in. 

—Jono Jarrett


 on Thu, April 19, 2012

Totally agree. I've been suprised by how few mentions of it there have been in movie trailer postings.

 on Thu, April 19, 2012

I see it mostly in arguments between commenters on those posts. I really hope it's something the media picks up. In a conspiracy-theory sort of way, I could see how it wouldn't, though: Big blockbusters like this are BIG MONEY, even to press, so I can imagine how a website or a blog or even a periodical wouldn't want to piss of the studio by calling attention to this aspect of the story's origin. Either that or I foresee a lot of deft deflection by PR-trained mouthpieces.

Captain Canine
 on Mon, April 23, 2012

I tried to read his essay: The Hypocrites of Homosexuality. It's really ugly. Just plain old bigotry. And he's trying to hide his bigotry behind some veneer of "intellectual discourse". It's quite sickening.

I think he thinks he's some morally courageous person for saying things like "Within the Church, the young person who experiments with homosexual behavior should be counseled with, not excommunicated. " Oh, bravo, Orson. What a kind soul you are. But he can't contain himself for long, because his next sentence is "But as the adolescent moves into adulthood and continues to engage in sinful practices far beyond the level of experimentation, then the consequences within the Church must grow more severe and more long-lasting; unfortunately, they may also be more public as well."

Ugh. It's like a drunk Mel Gibson rant done by a sober professor.

 on Fri, February 8, 2013

ONce again, I will say Ihave said to many Geeksout and GGONY people.  I enjoyed the book, and read it long before i discovered OSC's politics.  I am not going to let his politics get in the way of me enjoying what I hope will be a great movie.

That being said I am totally in agrement about not letting any of my money go to support this hateful bigot.  So, while am in no way advocating for internet copyright piracy, I just want to mention 2 words - Bit Torrent!

And one of the great things about NYC - Chinatown. At the store I work at, each friday, and enterprising women comes buy, and somehow she has DVD's (and more recently blu-rays sometimes) of all the current movies in the theaters, up to and including movies that are released that day.  Once again, I am not advocating piracy, but I am pretty sure, if I watch that movie, OSC aint getting any of my cash!

 on Tue, July 9, 2013

I disagree... I've read the books since '85 and OSC's opinions have nothing to do with his capabilities as an author... and even less when it comes to the movie.  The actors and others that are involved in the movie should not suffer from a boycott.

If we boycott everyone that has an 'opinion' that we don't agree with... you get the point.  Your rant is noted, your boycott is fluff.

Honestly though, if his opinion was to actually cause actual harm, I would agree with you.

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