Should "Ender's Game" be boycotted?

Discussion in 'SciFi & Fantasy' started by Magical Realist, Oct 4, 2013.

  1. Magical Realist Valued Senior Member

    Not according to this Advocate writer:

    Why I'm Going To See Ender's Game

    By Diane Anderson-Minshall

    "I can tell when Harrison Ford is being dead serious. A flirty deadpan quip is a nice warm-up, but when he looks you squarely in the eye with a direct, husky response to your question, he commands serious attention. Ford is on the defensive now, in part because the 1985 classic science fiction novel upon which his new movie is based was written by Orson Scott Card, an antigay activist who until recently was on the board of the National Organization for Marriage.

    Card has said some of the vilest things about gay and bisexual people. He thinks my sexual orientation (and yours, if you’re queer) is the product of “tragic genetic mixups” and that we may have been raped, molested, or abused into existence.

    Ford, who came out to support It Gets Better and marriage equality earlier this year with wife Calista Flockhart (who locked lips with Lucy Liu on Ally McBeal), tells The Advocate that “none of Mr. Card’s concerns regarding the issue of gay marriage are part of the thematics of this film, and he has written something I think that is of value to us all … his views outside of those that we deal with in this film are not an issue for me to deal with, and so I have really no opinion on that issue.”

    It’s important to Ford that Card came out admitting defeat in the wake of the Supreme Court decision on the Defense of Marriage Act. “I think we all know that we’ve all won,” Ford says, “that humanity has won, and I think that’s the end of the story.”

    Not so, says Geeks OUT board member Patrick Yacco. Though he’s grateful for the support from cast and crew, and notes that cast members Ford and Abigail Breslin are LGBT allies, Geeks OUT, a group of queer fanboys and fangirls, is holding firm to its call for a boycott of the film, which comes out in November.

    “Given Card’s outspoken activism against LGBT people, we find it necessary to take action and to use this opportunity to raise awareness about his hatred toward queer individuals,” says Yacco, who adds that calls for the boycott have earned a “phenomenal” response, including from fans of the novel who are now learning of Card’s antigay activities. The Card fiasco has put fans of the legendary young adult novel — which, in an ironic twist, resonates with many LGBT youth due to its themes of tolerance, empathy, compassion, and difference — in a quandary: Do they join the boycott because one man among the hundreds involved in the making of the movie is a vile homophobe who called for overthrowing the government if same-sex marriage became widely legal?

    Gay screenwriter Dustin Lance Black wrote on his Facebook page: “Boycotting a movie made by 99% LGBT equality folks in an LGBT equality industry is a waste of our collective energy.” But the post was flamed by activists and taken down shortly after it was posted, and Black, who was personally lambasted, hasn’t released any further statements. LGBT people who admit that they still have plans to see Ender’s Game are taking a lot of political risks by crossing that virtual picket line.

    Particularly because film distributor Lionsgate is positioning Ender’s Game as a tentpole release like Harry Potter or The Hunger Games, Geeks OUT “felt that this was the best opportunity to engage people who may be hearing about Ender’s Game and Orson Scott Card for the first time,” says Yacco.

    But what of the pro-gay cast or the filmmakers, director Gavin Hood and producer Roberto Orci? Hood and Orci are sponsoring this year’s Spirit of Courage Awards in Los Angeles in September. Hood is a longtime Courage Campaign member and an outspoken supporter of marriage equality. “I fully understand the position of those seeking a boycott. I really do,” says Hood. “What concerns me is that it’s dreadfully ironic that Orson wrote a book about compassion and empathy, and yet he himself is struggling to see that his position in real life is really at odds with his art. And, frankly that’s not unusual. Great art usually rides above the weaknesses and failings of its creators.

    “Neither Bob nor myself, nor any of the producers — perhaps naively — anticipated a book that we feel is about compassion and empathy and so on becoming such a flashpoint,” he says. “However, we embrace it. We embrace it because it is right to embrace it. And I think it’s an important conversation.”

    Yacco and Hood are both right. Talking about this and taking a stand over a human rights issue is important. The makers of the film and its cast and crew, and probably most people involved in the Ender’s Game film, hold views contrary to Card’s. We shouldn’t penalize them for the idiocy of one man who created the source material nearly three decades ago — especially given that the message of the film is at odds with that man’s own homophobia.

    Some media pundits argue that regardless of what happens when the film opens in November, the boycott is already a success. Hollywood insiders, from writers to gamers to movie directors, now see the impact of having someone so outspokenly homophobic on their payroll. The filmmakers are even discussing whether they’d turn down the option to direct and produce future installments, should the film become a franchise. That’s pretty powerful stuff. Lionsgate has backed away from Card, and insiders have insinuated that Card’s income won’t be affected by a boycott, because his producer credit is an honorific and the majority of his fee came years ago when the book was optioned. Orci has asked people to consider the full cost of the boycott to the “667 people” credited in the film and the other thousands who helped who are “gay and straight, male and female, old and young.”

    This isn’t the first time LGBT folks have had to take a side during a boycott. Boycotts have been a part of our American cultural heritage from the 1791 Quaker boycott of sugar produced by slaves to the 1965-1970 Cesar Chavez-led Delano grape boycott. Boycotts by LGBT community groups have had mixed results, though, from the ongoing Chick-fil-A debacle — visibility of the company’s practices is up, but so are Chick-fil-A’s sales — to that of the Salvation Army, which has apparently felt no impact.

    The most successful embargo organized by the LGBT community was that of Coors Brewing, which was boycotted from 1973 to 1995 for its antigay hiring policies and stridently homophobic leadership. It was Coors that eventually made changes, and by the mid-’90s it was advertising in LGBT media. I was there, at the helm of a lesbian magazine called Girlfriends, the day the company called, and my office full of activists had to debate for several hours whether to publish a Coors ad (we ultimately did).

    In a world where ethical consumerism is sometimes the best way to get our point across, art is a murky zone. Did you watch Chinatown, Rosemary’s Baby, or perhaps the queer film Bitter Moon, by director Roman Polanski, the man who raped a 13-year-old? From Mel Gibson, whose hideous anti-Semitic and sexist diatribes are now legendary, to Chris Brown, Cee-Lo Green, O.J. Simpson, Charlie Sheen, Axl Rose, Alec Baldwin, Donna Summer, 50 Cent, Amanda Bynes, and many more, people have committed crimes that range from uttering slurs to rape, battery, and murder. But gay people still routinely watch Airplane! repeatedly, listen to Donna’s disco hits, tune into Sheen’s surprisingly gay-friendly Anger Management, watch reality TV dominated by Kardashians, and witness Bynes unravel in the tabloids and on Our mouths say boycott, but our TV remotes don’t always back that up.

    When LGBT activists called for a boycott of Target for donating money to Tom Emmer, a Minnesota politician who had proposed a state constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage, the company had to point out that it had given even more money to LGBT-friendly politicos and causes. Such is the murky world of corporate politics today that businesses must back both pro-business candidates (often Republicans) and pro-LGBT candidates (often Democrats).

    As for Ender’s Game, many of my friends will skip it, instead taking part in “Skip Ender’s Game” counterprogramming LGBT events that will be held November 1 across the country, some to benefit charities.

    I’ll be in the theater. I’m going to stand in line, eat bonbons and popcorn, and give a thumbs up or down based on what’s on the screen, not who’s behind the book. I’ll certainly feel a twinge of shame for crossing that invisible picket line (not least because I’m usually on the other side of boycotts). But Ender’s Game feels different. That’s because I believe in Hood and Orci and the other hundreds of people who aren’t Card, and I want to see what they are saying.

    Both men say the film — and the book — is worth celebrating for its views. Young cast members Breslin and Asa Butterfield are in the crossfire too, says Hood, but “they’ve handled it with great dignity. … Young people are smarter than we give them credit for, and none of our cast would endorse the view of Orson Scott Card. … I think that history is not on his side and I think that young people are way ahead on this issue from their parents, as young people usually are.”---
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  3. GeoffP Caput gerat lupinum Valued Senior Member

    I'm boycotting because of Card's bigotry, and also because the book sucked.
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  5. C C Consular Corps - "the backbone of diplomacy" Valued Senior Member

    I admit that I haven't kept track of* or read anything from Card for a very long time, and was unaware that he had either gone bonkers or had taken off the skin-suit to reveal his bonkerness. Years ago, not long after reading Ender's Game and its sequel, I read another novel of his that featured an androphilic male character (among others) who was not necessarily depicted in a negative light. Though the character eventually committed suicide via choking on a bedsheet, after some sort of traumatic experience, maybe imprisonment or something (I can't recollect any specific details, including the name of the book). That, plus the incestual attractions that some of his characters had, along with a whole group of power-displaying mutants being a product of incest marriages in one short story -- so as to enhance their abilities, and a 15-year old girl being impregnated by an alien insect-like creature in yet another novel, almost makes his current crusade against sexual orientations and possibly deeds / fetishes of one sort or another a rather self-conflicting turnabout.

    I wouldn't have seen the movie at the theaters or anytime soon, anyway, regardless of his ideology. But I suppose it's up to individual judgement. Factors I would consider is whether or not he was this way back when he wrote Ender's Game, will going to it truly aid his agenda or fill his purse, and how often do we separate the personal traits and political activity of an author / creator from his/her work? History is overflowing with writers / inventors whose products were loved but which most of us might not like at all when knowing them personally or encountering them in real life. Some noted figures exhibited characteristics that clashed with idealized public perceptions of them: Newton dabbled in interpretation of Biblical prophecies and alchemy; Einstein was not a very good husband / father to his original family and posed a "difficult" question later to his cousin and her daughter, which both he was sleeping with at time: "Which one of you should I marry?"

    - - - - -

    * Apart from reading a couple of articles about Card a few years ago, concerning how he had developed such an addiction to computer games that it had affected the quality and output of his writing; and of him trashing the original Star Trek for being primitive space opera, especially lacking substance in the character development category. As if evaluating it in the context of its past era, of being surrounded by those vastly inferior and far more ridiculous Irwin Allen shows, didn't elevate its historical relevance / significance to any degree whatsoever.​
    Last edited: Oct 4, 2013
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  7. Sarkus Hippomonstrosesquippedalo phobe Valued Senior Member

    Where is the line between "boycotting" and merely not wanting to see it because you think the book sucked? And which side of that line are you on?

    Please Register or Log in to view the hidden image!

    I loved the book.
    Will see the film.
    Will try to keep my views of the man from spoiling my view of the film.
  8. spidergoat Venued Serial Membership Valued Senior Member

    I will download the film illegally, just like all the others I watch. Yes, Card is a dick, but maybe the movie will be good.
  9. Stryder Keeper of "good" ideas. Valued Senior Member

    Just remember when you boycott a film because of one persons views, all the people that made that film happen are also being misaligned with that view and boycotted being wrongfully boycotted as well. That's the same level of stereotyping (if not greater) than the person you are boycotting to begin with.
  10. billvon Valued Senior Member

    Agreed. Thus as time goes on, all those other people realize that they are being hurt by association with a homophobe - and thus stop working with him. This also accomplishes the goal.

    A boycott never hurts just one person. However, sometimes the good that comes from that nonviolent means of protest outweighs the bad that comes from harming others who are connected to the boycott.
  11. spidergoat Venued Serial Membership Valued Senior Member

    Their fault for being associated with the project.
  12. C C Consular Corps - "the backbone of diplomacy" Valued Senior Member

    Just to add to a bit to my earlier post:

    Card is perhaps partly guilty of "not play acting" or adhering to a superficial facade along with many other writers of earlier generations. For instance, in the course of a book review back in either the late '70s or the early '80s, Spider Robinson passingly expressed bored disgust about Samuel R. Delaney's book Dhalgren being filled with "leather and sweaty armpits" stuff -- i.e., homosexuality [also calling it "Dullgren" or something to that effect]. Circa the mid-60s, in the editor supplements of Dangerous Visions, Harlan Ellison mentioned the disillusionment of the author of heroic sword and sorcery tales (Conan, etc) turning out to be a "pathetic" homosexual (Robert E. Howard was not mentioned by name, but it was pretty clear who he was indirectly referring to).

    Needless to say, one would feel that over the decades since such older writers would now ardently avoid flirting with careless observations and acts in the age of PC. Which is not to say that they've all literally discarded the shock-value techniques of their own former eras or successfully reformed themselves internally [if there was a valid vice there to begin with, as opposed to use of risky effects and the darker side of bohemian / countercultural showmanship]. Ellison got into trouble a few years ago when he publicly groped author Connie Willis on stage at a SciFi convention. Afterwards acknowledging that what he did was wrong, but that it was nevertheless supposed to be some kind of "in-house joke" between he and Willis, but expressing outrage later that Willis was letting him dangle in regard to it by not coming forward to support him. Almost comparable to the philosopher Colin McGinn recently being ejected from the University of Miami because of sexual-related doings with one of his students. Essentially trying to "clarify" in his online blogs that: You people just don't understand what was really going on here! There was no sexual impropriety or harassment involved; we were mutually conducting some sort of research or empirical philosophy experiment about social taboos or whatever. Somebody else overhead a bit of conversation between us and was unaware of the proper context. The student herself turned on me later because of unrelated matters that had to do with yata, yata, yata... [ LOL at his manner of trying to weasel out of it]
  13. Michael 歌舞伎 Valued Senior Member

    I remember reading the book in the 1980s and I seem to recall thinking it was pretty good - although no where near as memorable as Neuromancer and The Forever War, books I also read at the same time.

    It did win the Nebula and Hugo awards.

    As fir the ovie, I'll wait for the download. The story wasn't that compelling and Ford lost my respect with the survive a nuke by hidding in the fridge scene. I mean WTF?!?

    As for Scott's gay hate; who cares what this idiot thinks? He had one OK book 3 decades ago. His opinion is ill informed and of no consequence.
  14. GeoffP Caput gerat lupinum Valued Senior Member

    The serendipitous side.
  15. Stryder Keeper of "good" ideas. Valued Senior Member

    Or you just cause the numbers of people to be homophobic to increase in number. You do realise that acting like "Whiners" (or trolls) doesn't win people over?
  16. Stryder Keeper of "good" ideas. Valued Senior Member

    Then obviously anything the US Government does is your fault because of your association?!?
  17. TuesdayNightCompany Registered Member

    The only reason I know anything about Card is because you just said it.
    I try not to know anything about an artist's personal life and just focus on their works.
    So no, I wouldn't boycott a movie based on a book because the writer has personal vendettas that are not advertised or even hinted at in said book or movie.
    It's really a mess once you start to get into people's personal beliefs and such, so I say skip it and ignore such things.
  18. Yazata Valued Senior Member

    So did I. I just re-read it the last couple of days and still loved it. It's a very good science fiction novel in my opinion, and since it won the Hugo and Nebula, the opinion is evidently shared.

    The one thing that I'm concerned about is how so much of the book takes place in Ender's mind, revolving around how he perceives what's happening to him and feels about it. It might be hard to get inside the protagonist's head and portray that on a screen.

    (The Harry Potter movies managed it, so it can be done.)

    I don't often see movies in theaters these days.

    But there's an increased chance that I might go to see this one because A) I liked the book, and B) to moon the boycott. (Mostly A, but B has crossed my mind too.)

    Many of the people in Hollywood are moralistic preachy elitist self-absorbed left-wing assholes in my opinion. Nevertheless, they make good movies on occasion. I don't watch movies because I want to endorse a moviemaker's politics. I watch movies in hopes that the movie will entertain me.
  19. Grumpy Curmudgeon of Lucidity Valued Senior Member

    A friend of mine offered to download it illegally, I advised against it but will probably watch it without that bigot getting a dime. I'm evil in that way.

  20. Balerion Banned Banned

    This is tricky. On the one hand, I understand the desire to ostracize bigots so their vile message is never heard from the mouth of a respected person. On the other, though, I believe it's possible to appreciate works and deeds by a person (mostly, if not entirely) regardless of their beliefs. I mean, people still celebrate Lovecraft--the World Fantasy Award statuette is a bust of his caricature--and this is a man who penned the 1912 poem "On the Creation of Niggers."

    I'm not using the Lovecraft example as an attempt to diminish or invalidate the complaints about Card. In fact, several years ago I realized that I was woefully read on the genre classics, and was about to pick up a copy of Ender's Game when I google'd Card and discovered that he was a bigoted lunatic and decided to pass on reading it. So, in effect, I began my boycott years ago. The point is to show that we can (and maybe should?) separate the ugly person from the works they create, so long as those works have merit in their own right. Or, perhaps more accurately, we decry the bad parts without dismissing the person as a whole.
  21. Balerion Banned Banned

    I guess the matter boils down to this question: Is it irresponsible to appreciate the good works or artistic achievements of people with vile worldviews?
  22. Yazata Valued Senior Member

    'Ender's Game' originally appeared in significantly shorter form in 'Analog' in 1977, when Vietnam was still fresh. The expanded novel-length version came out in 1985.

    The reviewer in 'Library Journal' called it "a scathing indictment of the military mind", which is high-praise indeed in PC-speak.

    So it's more than a little ironic that that the left has turned on Orson Scott Card to the point where he's apparently become the personification of evil today.
  23. Balerion Banned Banned

    What's this "the left" stuff? Do you not believe that Card's views on homosexuality are deplorable? I would argue that it takes a particular political view to not view them as such.

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