by Doctor Science
I do not plan on seeing Ender's Game, nor do most of my friends, even though we're science fiction fans -- and even though many of us love the book ... or used to.
The problem is Orson Scott Card, author of the book and credited as a producer for the movie. OSC isn't mere a homophobe, he has used his fame, talents, and (presumably) money to actively campaign against civil rights for homosexuals, including the right to marry.
This would probably be enough in itself for there to be a campaign to boycott the movie. But the campaign is particularly emotional because many fans of the book feel a sense of deep personal betrayal.
As I've discussed before, Ender's Game is a book about (among other things) a child who is abused by his peers and manipulated by adults because he is different. I was in my 20s when it came out, so it didn't hit me all *that* hard, but for a generation or more of young readers Ender's Game was a formative experience. As I said before, it
resonated powerfully with other victims of abuse, including gay and gender-noncompliant youth. The message and hope many readers took from the books is that you can walk away from the family that hurt you, and build a more truly loving family outside traditional boundaries. Suffering can make you stronger, and in particular it can help you see the good in the alien, the stranger, the despised.This is why in 2008 the American Library Association gave OSC the Margaret Edwards Award for "an author's work in helping adolescents become aware of themselves and addressing questions about their role and importance in relationships, society, and in the world." Of course the award turned out to be very controversial, because as much help and comfort adolescents got from OSC's *books*, they would eventually learn that he didn't necessarily respect *them*.
It's a tragic and frustrating conundrum, that OSC could write about respect for diversity yet argue against it in real life.
I have my own theories about why this happened.
SPOILER WARNING: Post and discussion may contain spoilers for Ender's Game, the book or the movie.
As I've explained before, I theorize that as a child or teen OSC was the victim of abuse, certainly emotional, quite probably sexual, by a male in a position of power (family/church/school). He has talked fairly freely about being tormented by his older brother, but I strongly suspect that's not the only shadow in his past.
OSC was a victim of abuse, but he is not a survivor: he hasn't told the truth about his own life, though his artistic Muse has made every effort to get it into his writing.
What is crushing for many Ender's Game fans is that, as the years go by, OSC seems to be siding with the *abusers*, not with them, the abused children who took comfort in his books. I've speculated that this is because the deaths of two of his children have made him cling more tightly to his Mormon religion, and the hope that his family will be re-united after death.
I now also think he's fallen into a particularly toxic part of the Right-Wing Media Hall of Mirrors, and is getting more and more paranoid and deranged. For instance, his most recent political post, which he calls "a little thought experiment that seized my imagination a few weeks ago and won't go away", begins by stating that "Obama is, by character and preference, a dictator. He hates the very idea of compromise; he demonizes his critics and despises even his own toadies in the liberal press." OSC then goes on to speculate that President Obama will use Benghazi to undercut Hillary Clinton, and then Michelle Obama will run as his surrogate. Meanwhile, Obama will create a personal national police force by putting
a thin veneer of training and military structure on urban gangs, and send them out to channel their violence against Obama's enemies.In the words of author Maureen Johnson, "I don't know where Orson Scott Card goes from here, except maybe to declare war on the moon."
OSC certainly has enough imagination to come up with this kind of wild-eyed paranoia on his own, but I also see symptoms of RWM-think. In particular, he blames Obama's re-election on the liberal mainstream media:
There are still a few real news outlets -- a few reporters, a few stations, a few newspapers, and one cable news network that remember what journalism used to mean.The empirical fact is that the Right Wing Media did a really bad job of analyzing and predicting the 2012 election. When your reaction is "Trust Fox News *more*!", you're reflecting Fox News' needs, not your own.
You have to attack Fox News and sneer at them and accuse them of bias, don't you -- because they're actually doing the job you merely pretend to do.
But this is something of a digression from Ender's Game, the movie. For me, I agree with Dennis Scimeca at Salon, who wrote:
Orson Scott Card wrote a book about the pain of being isolated from and hated by other people because of one's perceived differences. He gives us reason to believe the book was inspired by his own struggles. Yet, out here in the real world, outside the realm of Ender and Buggers and Battle School, Card hasn't learned to respect diversity. Buying a ticket to "Ender's Game" gives Card further license to continue inflicting pain on those who are different from him, and I don't think I can square that with my desire to see any movie, even this one.I'm also going to take a suggestion from Alyssa Rosenberg's Ethical Guide to Consuming Content Created by Awful People Like Orson Scott Card:
Commit to a discussion: All of these actions are useful to do in private. But whatever you decide in relation to Ender's Game, talk about it. Talk to the people you would normally go to genre movies with, but whose invitations you're turning down this time. Talk about it when you decide to go, and explain why you're making the decision—but also why you're taking offsetting action. Speak about this from a place of conflict if that's what you're feeling, as a genre fan, if that's what you are. Ethical consumption is a difficult thing to do. And exposing that difficulty and those contradictions, and that they're part of your process as a consumer, is perhaps the most important thing any of us can be doing, whether we swipe our credit cards or not.Alyssa has now seen the movie, and reports that most of the moral power of the book is edited away. It's not clear to me from reviews how much the theme of "Ender is tormented because he's different" is still there in the movie -- yet that's where the book gets a lot of it emotional punch. Those of you who've seen it, please chime in with all your spoilery opinions!