I’m Not Boycotting Ender’s Game

I’m Not Boycotting Ender’s Game

Let me tell you why I’m not going to boycott the upcoming film Ender’s Game, despite feeling the same way many people do about the policies of the author of the book the movie is based on: Orson Scott Card.

First, though, let’s lay out those policies for anyone who may be unaware of them.

Card has said such gems as:

  • “The goal is to discourage people from engaging in homosexual practices in the first place and, when they nevertheless proceed in their homosexual behavior, to encourage them to do so discreetly, so as not to shake the confidence of the community in the polity’s ability to provide rules for safe, stable, dependable marriage and family relationships.”
  • “When I read the statements of those who claim to be both LDS and homosexual, trying to persuade the former community to cease making their membership contingent upon abandoning the latter, I wonder if they realize that the price of such “tolerance” would be, in the long run, the destruction of the Church.”
  • “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.” (I must state that this last, commonly interpreted to mean America should make homosexuality illegal, seemed rather to me to apply to the “laws” of the Church of the Latter Day Saints, of which Card is a member. Not that that improves our view of Card’s opinions whatsoever—but it does make him seem slightly less unhinged).

There are more. I won’t ruin your day with them. Suffice it to say, Card could be considered somewhat of a homophobe.

And yet.

Ender’s Game is a story about anti-judgement, anti-bigotry and anti-hatred. There’s no other way to look at it. TOTALLY MASSIVE SPOILER ALERT—SERIOUSLY, DON’T READ ON IF YOU HAVEN’T READ THE BOOK: Ender accidentally facilitates the destruction of an entire species, only realizing afterward what he’s done and feeling terrible for it. And in the further books, he spends the rest of his life trying to correct what he’s done.

IMHO, there’s no other way to interpret the book or the series. It’s a series about tolerance, understanding and respect of “the other,” even when you can’t understand it.

Don’t ask me how such a book and series spawned from the mind of such a man.

And in the end, the message of the film is more important than the message of its creator. It has broader reach and more appeal. More people hear about it, more people know it. If you took the number of people who have read Ender’s Game, and then find out how many of those people even KNOW about Card’s homophobic views, I’d bet you’d find out it’s an extremely small percentage. I didn’t even know about his views until two months ago when I expressed excitement to see the film.

The story’s message will live on long after Card and his ilk have perished from the Earth. Hell, Card (whose policies will probably be forgotten about one day) may be hailed in the future as a prophet of tolerance—creating an interesting reverse of the path of Ender’s life when he went from proclaimed savior to reviled villain of history.

I will give you an interesting parallel, prefaced with a request NOT to interpret this as a comparison between the two.

Let me stress that again—I am not saying these two are similar, on the same scale of morality, or in any other way comparable other than in the exact context of the analogy I am about to deliver:

Martin Luther King, Jr. was, if not homophobic, at least mildly censurous (just coined that shit) of it. In his only public exchange on the subject, he said it was a “problem” which could be “solved.” Maybe it’s me, but I can’t help but think of the Bachman’s gay reform camps.

And yet, is this what we take away from King’s life? Of course not. His greater, more important, and more known work by far is his work in african-american rights. That is all we SHOULD take away from his life, because that is the only subject upon which he was unquestionably qualified to be heard.

Similarly, the only thing I believe will ever be truly worth remembering about Card is his art and his writing—and in none of it have I ever seen an iota of intolerance. The only people in Ender’s Game who preach hate and intolerance are the bad guys, the bullies, who—again, spoiler alert—often end up dead.

If Card’s personal intolerance had a negative cultural impact that was in any way on the same scale as the positive cultural impact of his art, I might consider taking action. As it stands, the two aren’t remotely close.

Supporting the tolerant art while vilifying the intolerant artist is enough protest for me. And vilifying the tolerant art because of the intolerant artist is, by contrast, destructive of the message that we ourselves believe in.

This is the viewpoint I’ve formulated. I’m more than willing to hear counter-arguments. (Well-reasoned ones, of course; no flame wars). What do you think about this subject? Will you be boycotting the film?

Garrett Robinson

Over 100,000 readers have read and loved Garrett's books, like the fantasy hits Nightblade and Midrealm. He's also a film festival favorite with movies like Unsaid, and a tech guru who posts lots of helpful how-tos for writers and filmmakers over at garrettbrobinson.com.

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