Orson Scott Card is a celebrated science fiction author. He is also notoriously anti-gay and now a film adaptation of one of his most famous works is facing a boycott from gay geeks, sparking a wider debate about whether a boycott is truly desirable.
The film is based on Card’s highly praised Ender’s Game, a tale about Earth’s best and brightest children and their last stand against the “Buggers,” an insect-like alien species who — shock! — want to invade and claim the planet.
The book was released in 1985 to a generally positive reception and is regularly cited as a classic. Though Card had once claimed that Ender’s Game could not be made into a film, an adaptation has now been shot and is due for release to American audiences on November 1, 2013. Note that Card also co-produced the film.
While many a geek has “fangasmed,” as the geek parlance goes, at the prospect of an Ender’s Game film, gay geeks have been less enthused. The problem is, and it is a considerable problem, that author Orson Scott Card has also carved out a niche as an anti-gay polemicist.
For this reason, gay geek community GeeksOut — stylized as a rallying force for the queer geek community — has called for a boycott under the banner “Skip Ender’s Game.”
The original post dating back to April 2012 from where blossomed this initiative is quite detailed as to reasons why the film may be worth boycotting, but the Skip Ender’s Game statement of intent is quite punchy and comprehensive:
Do not buy a ticket at the theater, do not purchase the DVD, do not watch it on-demand. Ignore all merchandise and toys. However much you may have admired his books, keep your money out of Orson Scott Card’s pockets. By pledging to skip Ender’s Game, we can send a clear and serious message to Card and those that do business with his brand of anti-gay activism – whatever he’s selling, we’re not buying. The queer geek community will not subsidize his fearmongering and religious bullying. We will not pay him to demean, insult and oppress us.
We might be tempted to dismiss this call as nothing more than hot air, except this isn’t the first time geeks — of orientation homo and hetero — have objected to Card’s creative involvement in a project.
Regular readers may remember from earlier this year the separate call for a boycott and subsequent shelving of a Superman comic book that was to be penned by Orson Scott Card. Clearly, the anger felt over Card’s anti-gay views has both bite and traction.
Now Card, facing the prospect of boycott, has issued what amounts to a plea of tolerance of his views, saying:
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 recognised 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.
Backers of the film Lionsgate, meanwhile, has hurried to wave the rainbow flag, saying that this film has nothing to do with Card’s anti-gay views while at the same time assuring everyone that the company is very, very committed to equality:
As proud longtime supporters of the LGBT community, champions of films ranging from Gods and Monsters to The Perks of Being a Wallflower and a company that is proud to have recognized same-sex unions and domestic partnerships within its employee benefits policies for many years, we obviously do not agree with the personal views of Orson Scott Card and those of the National Organization for Marriage. However, they are completely irrelevant to a discussion of Ender’s Game. The simple fact is that neither the underlying book nor the film itself reflect these views in any way, shape or form.
This might have satisfied some, but not GeeksOut and not very many in the gay community. It’s easy to see why and it behooves us to issue a few facts and corrections here. Scott Card hasn’t ever simply “disagreed” with proponents of marriage equality. That suggests some kind of politeness, much like the restraint he pleads for in the above statement.
No, Card has historically used his considerably elevated position to vociferously advocate against homosexuality.
From his essay The Hypocrites of Homosexuality that appeared in Sunstone magazine in February of 1990:
Laws against homosexual behavior should remain on the books, not to be indiscriminately enforced against anyone who happens to be caught violating them, but to be used when necessary to send a clear message that those who flagrantly violate society’s regulation of sexual behavior cannot be permitted to remain as acceptable, equal citizens within that society.
Card later stressed that he meant not to advocate for the jailing of homosexuals itself but rather the maintaining of state sodomy bans as a deterrent. Regardless we can, without having to infer anything, adjudicate that Orson Scott Card’s views are quite chilling enough given the remark that gay people “cannot be permitted to remain as acceptable, equal citizens.”
Society has moved on from that time and many a homophobe has recanted. Has Card? No, he most certainly has not.
Image credit: Lionsgate; image used under fair use terms.
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