Should We Boycott 'Ender's Game' Because Orson Scott Card Is Homophobic?
Millennials and sci-fi fans are facing a crisis with the release of Friday's Ender's Game movie adaptation. The issue at hand: Ender's Game, the novel, fueled many young adults' passion for reading, but the author of Ender's Game , Orson Scott Card, is a massive homophobe, whose eyebrow-raising statements about "unruly" homosexuals have sparked an international discussion on whether or not to boycott this movie. Card insists these allegations of homophobia (amongst other unusual right wing views) are libelous and false, but in every rumor, there is at least a drop of truth, leaving fans in a bit of a quandary.
It's not an unfamiliar quandary: The separation of artist and art is a struggle we've been dealing with throughout history. The public loved Oscar Wilde for being fabulous, but simultaneously hated him for being gay. Now, over one hundred years later, in our more progressive society, we're coping with the opposite. As an expensively made movie adapted from a beloved book by a homophobe is released, we're left asking: Will endorsing the movie/book by heading to the theater mean we're endorsing the views of the writer?
Now, plenty of writers and critics have pointed out that Ender's Game, the movie, promotes a tolerant and positive message, and therefore shouldn't really be tied up with Orson Scott Card's personal beliefs, but whether or not we can mentally separate out the two remains to be seen. (For his part, Card has vehemently denied being homophobic — despite being totally homophobic on record — saying that people are "not getting a true picture of me from these comments," although how such comments could be misconstrued is difficult to see.) But with the approval of gay marriage at an all-time high in the US, an author who has made a lot of money off of young adults who says things like, "There are no laws left standing that discriminate against gay couples," or, "Obama will put a thin veneer of training and military structure on urban gangs, and send them out to channel their violence against Obama's enemies," is a worrying presence.
It's not that Ender's Game encompasses these values in any way — more so that paying for anything associated with Card gives this extremely prejudiced man a platform from which to preach hatred, which is not something anyone is aiming for. Arguably, a movie about futuristic child warriors doesn't really engage much with homosexuality or the possibility that Obama is raising a gang-led urban army, but Card does, so it's hard to think about Ender's Game the same way.
However, in the course of getting a degree in English Literature, I have been told countless times that to interpret a text through the lens of the writer's personal life is to interpret lazily. Card sounds like a loon, but his book impacted countless lives, and as long as it isn't preaching anti-gay propaganda to the masses (which it isn't), it's hard to see how that should affect our ability to enjoy a movie that combines Ben Kingsley, Harrison Ford, and Abigail Breslin, amongst others. As pointed out in an article on Moviefone, since Card has long seen his share of the movie profits, it won't make any particular statement to boycott the movie. That said, it might teach Hollywood to be more wary of which projects they pay big bucks for in the future.
But one thing that will make a difference? Refusing to buy Card's book. If the author's stance on democrats and homosexuals enrages you — as it should — go ahead and boycott his books. But, for your own sake, don't deprive yourself of the chance to see Harrison Ford screaming at robot/superhero children while they take out aliens to save our planet.