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Ender’s Shame

todayNovember 18, 2013 283 1 1

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SPOILER FREE. (mostly)

Earlier this month, the Ender’s Game movie hit theaters. I’ve only been waiting to see this for about 10 years, while many fans have been waiting much, much longer. The author, Orson Scott Card, has always been extremely, er — anal — about  maintaining creative control over his story.

From what I’ve heard, it’s paid off. A friend and fellow fan said that it was “really good,” (obviously a man of letters) adding, though, that it left out a lot of  the side plots which enriched the story with character development. The reviews on, however, are mixed at best. It seems that even some people who might have enjoyed the story were prejudiced against it.

Why? Well, in case you have been living under a rock, Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card is a bestselling, greatly loved,  award-winning science fiction saga about a boy named Andrew “Ender” Wiggin, and the team of child soldiers in training to save humanity against an alien threat. The book spun off into two separate story lines: one deeply philosophical in nature, and the other, more political.

It was a complete surprise when, a few years ago, I started hearing rumors that Orson Scott Card is a complete and utter homophobe.

I know that word gets thrown around a lot, and there might be people who would label me as such because of certain colorful words I use in the name of shock, humor, or simple habit. However, Card has never tried to deny  his views. He basically thinks homosexuals are the devil. And unlike Paula Deen in her recent  scandal, he’s made it clear that he is not changing his mind  anytime soon.

Naturally, this upset a few people. Ok, by a few, I mean, A LOT. The call for a boycott of the movie was swift and harsh, like the corner of an untrimmed fingernail in a surprise prostate check.  But was it really necessary?

If you’ve ever heard me talk about boycotts, you know that I’m really not for them at all. They tend to have more of an effect on the wrong people than the intended target. For instance, the local Chick-Fil-A franchiser just wants to sell you some tasty chicken sandwiches, and likely doesn’t want to oppress people based on their sexuality. The teenagers who work there just want to be able to afford their car payments and weed, and also likely don’t hate gay people. The common response to this when I defend my choice to shove my gullet with a stack of Texas Pete-laced Chick-n-minis is something like “Hey, not my problem. Don’t work for hatemongers!” A conveniently easy thing to say for someone who doesn’t have any actual financial ties to the company.

Would this person quit their job if they found out that their CEO disagreed with them on some core belief? Would they have the courage to voluntarily throw themselves into the growing statistic of the unemployed?

And is anyone else hungry for a chicken sandwich?

But I digress.

Most ticket sales at a first-run theatre (as I’ve heard) go to the people who made the movie and get royalties as part of the deal: the producers, director, actors, and so on. And yes, sometimes, the author who wrote the original story. This time, that’s not the case. Orson Scott Card apparently sold the rights to Ender’s Game years ago and won’t directly be making any further cash on this deal, unless of course a sequel is made. I guess.

In an attempt to bring balance to the force, Lionsgate hosted a benefit premiere of the movie to raise money for … I dunno, gays or something. They never really said, did they? I guess it’s the thought that counts?

No comment.

During the internet rage-fest over this topic, some “evidence” of homophobia and pedophilia was spouted all over my face, mostly by people who had never read  Ender’s Game. “The enemies are called BUGGERS. That’s pretty obvious isn’t it? Like, buggery is the enemy, right? Get it? He made GAYS the enemies because they like FUCKING PEOPLE IN THE ASS.”*

Or, “It’s about pre-pubescent kids. That’s creepy. Only a pedophile would do that.”

By the way, the enemies were called Formics, which were insect-like aliens, hence the nickname, buggers. Maybe the name Formics was really subtext about how much he hates Formica® countertops. Or, maybe he derived the name from the scientific classification for ants, which are in the family Formicidae, which is Latin for “pillow-biters.”

A picture of Formics in their natural habitat: sodomy.

Meanwhile, I’ve found other articles writing about how Ender’s Game has homoerotic overtones. So which is it? Either Orson Scott Card is a deeply closeted, self-hating, homosexual pedophile expressing himself through fiction (which I have not entirely ruled out) or you can pretty much read whatever you want into it depending on your viewpoint, just like you can with any other work of art.

I’m sure a lot of haters out there are now laughing or flipping tables. “HOW DARE YOU call this piece of garbage a work of art!” And to those people, I say simply: Jackson Pollock.

What chose to get out of the Ender’s Game books (I’ve read several of the sequels) were the recurring themes of forgiveness and understanding of those who are different from you. “Speaker for the Dead” in particular, focused on a colony of humans on an alien world attempting to cohabitate peacefully with the seemingly primitive and violent beings already there.Spoilers: Ender also discovers that the Formics, which he thought he had wiped off the surface of the Universe, were not trying to annihilate the human race after all. It was really just a big misunderstanding. The rest of his life is spent reconciling his past by re-colonizing the Formics and preventing further slaughter of alien races. He’s also hiding from his own identity, because history has labelled him The Xenocide and all that happy crappy shit that Graff told him about being a hero got completely twisted. I know, CRAZY right?

This doesn’t even sound like they could possibly be written by someone who also wrote a novella, Hamlet’s Father, where he retells Hamlet as a bizarre homoerotic slash fanfic in which King Hamlet molested several young boys and turned them into homosexuals. I’m really starting to think this guy is so deep in the closet, he’s probably hanging out with Mr Tumnus right now.

Peter Gardner, who will never read Ender’s Game. EVER.

A quick poll of friends revealed that most people who had read Ender’s Game were bothered by OSC’s newly-revealed beliefs, but would probably see the movie anyway. Those who hadn’t, became  bigoted in their own way and decided to avoid both the book and movie.

Not just Card, but actors, musicians, and other writers are subject to personal boycotts when it’s discovered that we don’t agree with them on some sort of moral or political level.

But here’s the best part.

Most people admitted that they have NOT boycotted  artists who have  revealed themselves to be scumbags after falling in love with their work. For instance: Woody Allen is kind of a pedo who married his adopted daughter and that is CREEPY as shit. But man, I really loved Annie Hall, so… I’m gonna go ahead and keep watching that.

Furthermore, we tend to make all kinds of exceptions based on what we really want. So while Annie Hall is ok, because that was B.S.Y. (Before Soon Yi), Blue Jasmine and Magic in the Moonlight are right out.

It’s like a moral grandfather clause which we tend to apply on a sliding scale depending on how attached we are to the work in question. It’s really not right, but I’d be a complete hypocrite if I said I didn’t do it, too.

Years ago when Metallica made their big stand about illegal downloading, I found myself divorced and thus without a copy of the Black Album. I did NOT want to buy one, nor did I actually want to steal it. Instead I looked through the stacks at all of the used CD shops I could find, until I managed to get a copy. Ok, maybe you’re thinking that’s not really the same as condemning and furthering the oppression of people who happen to not be 100% heterosexual, and I’d agree with you. I’m just saying there are ways to get  around moral grey areas. See? I’m doing it again.  My advice is, if you’re curious about Ender’s Game, get it from the library or borrow it from a friend. That way, no actual money will be going into the pockets of OSC, and you can judge the story for yourself.  Try to keep an open mind. Then hit me up and we can discuss it.

American society seems to se in the midst of a tremendous paradigm shift right now when it comes to human sexuality. People are able to marry without regard to gender in more states than ever, and the spectrum of sexuality is no longer such a taboo topic. It’s not even just gay or straight any more like we’re all binary, it’s LGBTQRSTUV and the Kinsey scale is actually a thing that people know.  In fact it seems, a least in my corner of the world, that bigots are becoming more and more likely to keep their opinions in the proverbial closet.

You know how your grandparents occasionally blurt out the N-word because that’s just what they grew up with? (Or is that just my family?) And you just shake your head and think, good gawd, I’m glad I didn’t grow up in such a  backwards, racist era. Then you go on eating your Thanksgiving dinner, cuz them old crackas can cook some turkey.

One day in the not too distant future, I suspect our children and grandchildren will look back guys like Orson Scott Card and say “Omg smh. He was totes a homophobe lol but srs dat book was good tho. i red the cliff notes for class.” **

What do you think? Are you able to separate a work of art from its boneheaded, morally corrupt creator?

Wait, before you decide: every time you hear this at a sportsball game, remember that Gary Glitter is a convicted pedophile in several countries.

[socialpoll id=”2175956″]

Further Reading:

Why You Shouldn’t Let Orson Scott Card’s Homophobia Affect Your Enjoyment Of Ender’s Game in which the author lists many other things you should boycott while you’re at it.

*Claims slightly exaggerated. 

** I will be proud of the kids for being able to spell homophobe while other words like “read” prove too difficult. 

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