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Astonishing Chutzpah
July 9, 2013 2:38 PM   Subscribe

Badass Digest and the A.V. Club both have some choice perspective to offer concerning Orson Scott Card's public statement about the boycott of the "Ender's Game" film.
posted by Ipsifendus (326 comments total) 28 users marked this as a favorite

 
From Card's statement:

Ender’s Game is set more than a century in the future and has nothing to do with political issues that did not exist when the book was written in 1984.


You know, it used to be that I couldn't enjoy his work for the simple matter that he didn't respect my worth as a human being. How much simpler it is now that he's just clearly an idiot!
posted by MCMikeNamara at 2:44 PM on July 9, 2013 [55 favorites]


Card—who has been anti-gay all of his life, despite propaganda that may suggest homophobia is a “choice”—has increasingly come under fire for his sociopolitical orientation, ever since coming out as a homophobe...

Amazing. That AV Club article is golden from start to finish.
posted by RokkitNite at 2:46 PM on July 9, 2013 [39 favorites]


Haters gonna hate.
posted by seanmpuckett at 2:46 PM on July 9, 2013


Given some of the vicious things OSC has said, written and done about those I care about, I'm inclined to put anything from or about him in "Look at this asshole" territory, much like a certain group of Christians who picket funerals. The less we click-through to teach the controversy, both about and from him, the better off we'll be as a society.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:47 PM on July 9, 2013 [6 favorites]


I'm not only boycotting it. I'm going to torrent it. Burn it to DVD. Delete the file.Destroy the DVD and torrent it again.
posted by Ad hominem at 2:49 PM on July 9, 2013 [72 favorites]


I wasn't going to see it because Ender's Game is just a big sanction of genocides, but yeah, OSC is pretty awful every time he opens his mouth.

I was reading his article from 2004 looking for a "fun" quote but the whole thing is ... a thing. Sample: "So it is a flat lie to say that homosexuals are deprived of any civil right pertaining to marriage. To get those civil rights, all homosexuals have to do is find someone of the opposite sex willing to join them in marriage."
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 2:50 PM on July 9, 2013 [3 favorites]


I tend to agree, BP, but if the Westboro Baptist Church had a multi-million dollar movie coming out and used its position to spew bullshit against a grass roots operation from the pages of Entertainment Weekly, I'd think it's better not to ignore it.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 2:50 PM on July 9, 2013 [9 favorites]


I don't read OSC because I've read two so-so short stories by him (in larger collections) and started one truly horrible, awful novel. That would be Heart's Hope, and I got less then two chapters in, for reasons the first paragraph of the wikipedia plot summary should make clear. After reading that I had no real incentive to try any of his other works.
posted by Canageek at 2:51 PM on July 9, 2013 [3 favorites]


Well, at least Cory's not gonna boycott it.
posted by Thorzdad at 2:52 PM on July 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


Sigh. I'm not one to immediately assume that any homophobe is totes just in the closet, but it seems pretty likely in his case and it just makes me really sad.
posted by showbiz_liz at 2:53 PM on July 9, 2013 [7 favorites]


Is it a boycott if I wasn't going because I think it'll be a bad movie?
posted by the man of twists and turns at 2:53 PM on July 9, 2013 [13 favorites]


If there's one thing Ender's Game taught me, it's that the BEST time to attack your enemies is when they're "down."

OSC certainly did it for years. I quit giving this buffoon money years ago.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 2:55 PM on July 9, 2013 [8 favorites]


After thus establishing that gay rights did not exist in 1984—gay people not having been invented until that one episode of thirtysomething

God I love me some AV Club snark.
posted by AlonzoMosleyFBI at 2:57 PM on July 9, 2013 [13 favorites]


Man if we don't find like an entire human being made of discarded hair in OSC's basement after he dies were gonna all feel so let down.
posted by The Whelk at 2:57 PM on July 9, 2013 [26 favorites]


I'd probably go to The Onion more often if they didn't keep accidentally posting their content to the AV Club like this.
posted by ckape at 2:58 PM on July 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


Well, at least Cory's not gonna boycott it.

What a jerk. How shameful is it that this boycott would be described as "blacklisting" by him, as if the bigot is the victim. Cory can choose to enrich a bigot, but it isn't blacklisting of any kind to choose to spend money on something else.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:58 PM on July 9, 2013 [31 favorites]




My brother-in-law and I agreed to read the book this summer in anticipation of seeing the movie. Crossing that off the list now and canceling plans to see the movie.

I'm just one consumer, but I refuse to support a homophobe with my disposable income.
posted by zooropa at 2:59 PM on July 9, 2013 [4 favorites]


Sigh. I'm not one to immediately assume that any homophobe is totes just in the closet, but it seems pretty likely in his case and it just makes me really sad.

Yeah, he's so closeted I'm starting to feel sorry for him. (Exhibit A: the rewriting of Hamlet, where all the characters that drive Hamlet to his actions are gay. Come on, son.)

I wish he would just internalize his own angst and not try to make other people suffer for being gay though.
posted by longdaysjourney at 2:59 PM on July 9, 2013 [6 favorites]


I didn't read Ender's Game until a couple of years ago, and while it's hardly Litrachure, it was a fun read and I'm sure I would've loved it a lot as a kid.

But I (still) can't understand how someone who can put together a novel as not-terrible (in terms of style, structure, etc.) as that can display such incredibly poor thinking when it comes to SCARY HOMOSEXUALS WHO TAKE OVER THE WORLD

oh wait, yes I can.
posted by rtha at 3:01 PM on July 9, 2013 [3 favorites]


"Now it will be interesting to see whether the victorious proponents of gay marriage will show tolerance toward those who disagreed with them when the issue was still in dispute."

But seriously, what is the rhetorical point that he seems to think he's scored, here? Is it that gay marriage supporters are showing their true colors by taking away the basic human right of bigots to oppress people?

What tolerance is he asking gay marriage supporters to show? Is he pretending there's some question of heterosexual marriages being tolerated? He's arranged a bunch of words in such a way that it looks like they ought to make sense, but as far as I can see they really don't.
posted by Sing Or Swim at 3:03 PM on July 9, 2013 [26 favorites]


I know I've posted something to this effect in MeFi before, but when I was a teen girl reading OSC in a bubble, I was astonished at how sensitively depicted his homosexual characters were and so grateful to be reading books with gay main characters in it (SONGMASTER I AM LOOKING AT YOU).

I was solidly in my 20s before his spew of hatred caught up with me and so astonished by it that I immediately assumed "closeted" and still feel bad for the guy. It must hurt to hate yourself that badly.

Still, I wish he'd shut up.
posted by annathea at 3:03 PM on July 9, 2013 [15 favorites]


But seriously, what is the rhetorical point that he seems to think he's scored, here? Is it that gay marriage supporters are showing their true colors by taking away the basic human right of bigots to oppress people?

This is right-wing assholery 101. You'll see the same bullshit all over the place on Nat Review, freerepublic, etc.
posted by kmz at 3:04 PM on July 9, 2013 [3 favorites]


Haters gonna hate.

More like... Haters gonna hate hate-haters hating hate.
posted by aubilenon at 3:07 PM on July 9, 2013 [28 favorites]


Yeah, the "the REAL persecuted minority is bigots who may not make as much money as they would otherwise" routine is hilarious and doesn't work on me.

Sadly this seems to be the fig leaf many of my nerdy friends who were going to see it anyway are using to justify it.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 3:08 PM on July 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


Oh, please. I'm going to sneak some Chick-fil-A into the theater and watch the mess out of this movie.
posted by resurrexit at 3:10 PM on July 9, 2013 [4 favorites]


This is right-wing assholery 101. You'll see the same bullshit all over the place on Nat Review, freerepublic, etc.

I'm almost more disappointed in the fact that OSC's bigotry is so pedestrian. His arguments are no different than the stuff you see printed in all caps in the comments in the local newspaper. You'd think that someone with his talent could be a little more creative in his assholishness.
posted by octothorpe at 3:10 PM on July 9, 2013 [4 favorites]


OSC is a glaring example of the old "you hate and despite most in others that which you fear most in yourself" trope. There are citations above to specifics but suffice to say, Miss Thang ain't a-foolin' no one no how with her "eww! eww! icky icky men peepees" bullshit...
posted by OneMonkeysUncle at 3:11 PM on July 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


If the movie has anti-gay rhetoric in it, then it would be a no-brainer to avoid it.

The larger question (to me), is should one boycott an artist because they have some particular awful/disgusting viewpoints/behavior. Names that come to mind are Cat Stevens and Miles Davis. Frankly, Cat Stevens was probably happy about the boycott of his music (as he quit making non-religious music when he became Muslim and changed his name); so that's an easy one for me - continue to enjoy his lovely music. Miles Davis is pretty much a documented violent misogynist; but I'm didn't quit listening to his music when I found that out - I just decided he was an asshole.

If I thought OSC was going to use the proceeds from this movie to fund anti-gay causes (as I was concerned when I quit drinking RockStar), then there's no way I'd see the movie. But I don't have any indication that's going to be the case.

In summary, I'll wait until the reviews come out, and make my decision then.
posted by el io at 3:11 PM on July 9, 2013 [15 favorites]


Yeah, he's so closeted I'm starting to feel sorry for him. (Exhibit A: the rewriting of Hamlet, where all the characters that drive Hamlet to his actions are gay. Come on, son.)

I wish he would just internalize his own angst and not try to make other people suffer for being gay though.


The more of his stuff I read, or see summaries of... it really does make me wonder if he was molested, is gay, blames his being gay on being molested, and thinks that all practicing gay people are just like his abuser. It's not just the frequent depiction of gay people as evil and/or pedophiles- although it crops up an awful lot. It's that, combined with the way he writes about men and the male form, which just strikes me as... I don't know, quietly eroticized?

Yes, this is a lot to assume from just reading some books that a dude wrote.
posted by showbiz_liz at 3:11 PM on July 9, 2013 [9 favorites]


Blazecock Pileon: "> Well, at least Cory's not gonna boycott it.

What a jerk. How shameful is it that this boycott would be described as "blacklisting" by him, as if the bigot is the victim. Cory can choose to enrich a bigot, but it isn't blacklisting of any kind to choose to spend money on something else.
"

The update in that article is pretty funny. "Welp, turns out I'm wrong about pretty much everything here, and my premise is dumb! But my main point still stands."
posted by invitapriore at 3:11 PM on July 9, 2013 [22 favorites]


But seriously, what is the rhetorical point that he seems to think he's scored, here? Is it that gay marriage supporters are showing their true colors by taking away the basic human right of bigots to oppress people?

Yeah, as observed above, it's a classic tactic of bigots to pretend that "fuck you for having the temerity to exist and be different from me" and "fuck you for wanting to take away our rights and round us up and put us in camps" are somehow equivalent statements of intolerance.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 3:11 PM on July 9, 2013 [4 favorites]


rtha: "as that can display such incredibly poor thinking when it comes to SCARY HOMOSEXUALS WHO TAKE OVER THE WORLD"

It's the Black's Gay Bandido theory at work again.
posted by jquinby at 3:11 PM on July 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


Nevertheless, Card is here, he hates queers, and he suggests you get used to it in time for the movie’s premiere.

Sean O'Neal is a national treasure.
posted by grapesaresour at 3:11 PM on July 9, 2013 [15 favorites]


I wasn't going to see it because Ender's Game is just a big sanction of genocides

I'd argue that it isn't. Ender's Game is about an adolescent lashing out violently. It's sequel Speaker for the Dead is about adulthood as taking responsibility for one's actions. The Ender of book 2 knows that he has done monstrous things, does not try to excuse himself, and knows that nothing he could do in future could get the red out of his ledger. He devotes the rest of his life to giving voice to the voiceless, not for forgiveness or as penance but because he thinks it's worth doing. I was baffled at finding out the author of that book is an extreme homophobe.

Speaker for the Dead is a better book than the original, definitely worth borrowing from the library or stealing.

Book 3 Xenocide has a couple good ideas but suffers from a severe midiclorian infestation. Other sequels if found should be burned unopened for Card's sake.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 3:12 PM on July 9, 2013 [28 favorites]


Am I missing something? How does boycotting this film hurt Card? He was paid when the film rights were optioned, which I'd imagine was a long time before Card started ranting about gays. All a boycott does is hurt the rights holders and producers who are trying to make a buck off a story they optioned. Is Card a producer? Is he getting a cut of the gross? Has anyone addressed this anywhere?
posted by dortmunder at 3:13 PM on July 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


And yes, anyone new to OSC should read Speaker for the Dead (preferable after checking it out from a library and not buying it new). In addition to the more-complex adult Ender, it has some really interesting hard-sf ideas in it.
posted by showbiz_liz at 3:14 PM on July 9, 2013 [3 favorites]


dortmunder: "Am I missing something? How does boycotting this film hurt Card?"

By sending the message "Backing OSC is backing a money pit that people revile".
posted by boo_radley at 3:14 PM on July 9, 2013 [23 favorites]


Is Card a producer?

yes, he is
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 3:15 PM on July 9, 2013


Liked the books when I read them as a kid. Have avoided him since finding out he's a hater. Won't see the movie.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 3:16 PM on July 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


Now it will be interesting to see whether the victorious proponents of gay marriage will show tolerance toward those who disagreed with them when the issue was still in dispute.

I myself am moved by this plea for tolerance, and will therefore not try to prevent heterosexuals from marrying each other. You're welcome, Mr. Card.
posted by Greg Nog at 3:17 PM on July 9, 2013 [45 favorites]


El io, I've read elsewhere he actually does fund anti-gay organizations, so it's not so cut and dry as saying 'it's just his opinion and nothing more'

Personally, having read EG as an adult I was less then thrilled with it (before I knew about his stances). I guess I'm just one of the very few who found it not so great.
posted by edgeways at 3:19 PM on July 9, 2013 [5 favorites]


I actually bought them all, including Ender's Shadow and Shadow of the Hegemon and all the other nerd cash grabs. Before I found out about what a jackass the guy is.

That is part of the reason I am so mad. I will get my money back if I have to sell bootlegs of this movie on the street.
posted by Ad hominem at 3:19 PM on July 9, 2013 [3 favorites]


Amazing. That AV Club article is golden from start to finish.

That's the AV Club doing right by its parent site. Love it.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 3:21 PM on July 9, 2013


Right. Because people would still line up to see Wagner operas if he was writing New York Post editorials about filthy jews.
posted by cacofonie at 3:21 PM on July 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


If I thought OSC was going to use the proceeds from this movie to fund anti-gay causes (as I was concerned when I quit drinking RockStar), then there's no way I'd see the movie. But I don't have any indication that's going to be the case.

He's on the board of the National Organization for Marriage. Being on a board usually means you either give a lot or raise a lot of money for the cause.
posted by rtha at 3:21 PM on July 9, 2013 [20 favorites]


So far this thread all seems to be the same people with the same beliefs all congratulating each other on what a despicable person Orson Scott Card is. Good for you! I'm glad you found a community of like-minded friends here on the internet. But whenever I see that kind of group thinking, and with no other alternative point of view being presented, I feel obligated to play devil's advocate. I'm just stubborn that way.

I know many people inside the Mormon Church who hate Orson Scott Card for the exact opposite reasons-- that he is "too soft" on gay rights, that he has had the temerity to writte gay characters into his fiction. To those people, OSC is a flaming liberal who is dragging us all down to hell with his evil novels. You guys in this thread even use a lot of the same words that the ultra-Mormons do to describe him. I just feel sorry for the guy-- getting it from both ends (hello double entendre!).

Totally unrelated: Also, I pretty much haven't liked any of the fiction he has written since the second Ender book-- that was amazing, and still one of the best lines in literature for me is the closing sentences in the book, when the (30 year old spoiler!) alien egg is burrowing down into the sand and he writes that after thousands of years, awake but paralyzed, the queen finally knew that she "was not going to be the last of her race, but the first." I've read five or six of his books since then, and they honestly seem to be getting worse and worse. I feel like he is just phoning it in as a writer, now.
posted by seasparrow at 3:22 PM on July 9, 2013 [11 favorites]


I wasn't going to see it because Ender's Game is just a big sanction of genocides

John Kessel wrote a fantastic essay examining those sorts of questions in Ender's Game. It's worth reading:

Creating the Innocent Killer: Ender's Game, Intention, and Morality

“We would all like to believe that our suffering has made us special—especially if it gives us a righteous reason to destroy our enemies.”


Card sets up Ender to be the sincere, abused innocent, and rigs the game to make us accept that he does no wrong. But in the real world genocide is not committed by accident.

Maybe the story of, "I was attacked! I was backed into a corner! I had no choice! I had to respond with overwhelming violence! It was self-defense!" is not one that we need to be telling ourselves these days (at least in the United States).
posted by straight at 3:23 PM on July 9, 2013 [13 favorites]


I'm so old I thought OSC was an asshat before it was cool to say OSC was an asshat.
posted by localroger at 3:24 PM on July 9, 2013 [9 favorites]


(SONGMASTER I AM LOOKING AT YOU)

Didn't that book have a bisexual character who quantified his sexuality in terms of percentages and had to leave his girlfriend because he was too attracted to her child student? It's been 10 years since I read it, but I kind of remember that. Also there was that one gay character in the Earthsomething books who was able to finally sleep with his BFFwifeperson and then they had a baby and were FINALLY HAPPY because he could fake heterosexuality. And the only word his culture had for homosexuality was a synonym for "anus".

Also, Hart's Hope was weird and sexually fucked up. He had issues with ALL sexuality, honestly-- one of the Ender sequels had a relationship between two characters get fucked up because it turned out they were siblings, IIRC. And every female character in the Ender books ended up either miserable (Valentine) or happy because they had a whole pile of kids (Petra). The other most powerful female character (Virlomi) ended up forcing one of the male characters into marrying her by stripping naked in front of him and threatening to walk out of the room naked, which would apparently shame him because he is Muslim.
posted by NoraReed at 3:25 PM on July 9, 2013 [7 favorites]


So far this thread all seems to be the same people with the same beliefs all congratulating each other on what a despicable person Orson Scott Card is. Good for you! I'm glad you found a community of like-minded friends here on the internet. But whenever I see that kind of group thinking, and with no other alternative point of view being presented, I feel obligated to play devil's advocate. I'm just stubborn that way.

dang I guess we got told by a real freethinker who sees both sides of a complicated issue like "are gay people okay or are they bad"
posted by Greg Nog at 3:26 PM on July 9, 2013 [149 favorites]


Bless your heart seasparrow you are a true rebel
posted by edgeways at 3:26 PM on July 9, 2013 [25 favorites]


Ender then proceeds the rest of the series wandering the known galaxy in atonement of his monumental sins, so I don't think the book was condoning xenocide, no.
posted by Apocryphon at 3:26 PM on July 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


I feel obligated to play devil's advocate

I did not read any devil's advocacy in your comment. Those of us who don't like him because of his ridiculous homophobia should....like him because some Mormons hate him for not being *more* of a fag-hater? What?

(Also, people who agree with each other on a certain topic are not automatically engaged in groupthink. Sometimes people in agreement are just people in agreement.)
posted by rtha at 3:27 PM on July 9, 2013 [27 favorites]


A bit of a tangent to this discussion, but there was an argument—far-fetched but made in earnest—that OSC had not written Ender's Game, based on correspondence between the writer of that argument (who was a SF reviewer) and OSC himself. I haven't been able to dig that article up. Does anyone have a link?
posted by adamrice at 3:28 PM on July 9, 2013


I may have forgotten the {\}
posted by edgeways at 3:28 PM on July 9, 2013


I feel obligated to play devil's advocate. I'm just stubborn that way.

Your devil's advocate position is that "also, horrible people hate him"?
posted by mrnutty at 3:28 PM on July 9, 2013 [6 favorites]


Guys it turns out the truth is somewhere in the middle. *South Park music plays*

I don't have the time or inclination to ideologically vet all the artists that I consume for proper political thinking and opinions, however, if they make a big point of saying HEY HEY GUYS I HATE THE GAYS GAY PEOPLE ARE DISGUSTING ALSO QUIT BOYCOTTING MY MOVIE THE DISGUSTING GAYS HAVE WON then yeah I take that into consideration re: continuing to give them my money. If you must have terrible, stupid opinions, then at least have the decency to keep your idiocy quiet.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 3:28 PM on July 9, 2013 [33 favorites]


Also, people who agree with each other on a certain topic are not automatically engaged in groupthink. Sometimes people in agreement are just people in agreement.

I couldn't agree more. I'd like to, but I've been told this is the limit.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 3:29 PM on July 9, 2013 [50 favorites]


"are gay people okay or are they bad"

Hmmmm
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 3:30 PM on July 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


The director of Tsotsi is directing this? I loved that movie. Damn, I was hoping it would be directed by Friedburg and Seltzer.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 3:31 PM on July 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


Is it a boycott if I wasn't going because I think it'll be a bad movie?

Yeah, I was just coming here to say that I'm not even going to do it the honor of boycotting it; as far as I'm concerned it's of a piece with the Atlas Shrugged film: hilarious to know that it exists but it's not necessary to actually watch it.
posted by George_Spiggott at 3:31 PM on July 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


Well, at least Cory's not gonna boycott it.

I've seen that idea articulated a couple of times in reference to Card, and it's insulting. "It's a mob mentality, and what if that mob turns against you!" As though boycotters aren't individuals who have consciously decided that Card is not someone they want to support. Nope, just mindless zombies.
posted by brundlefly at 3:31 PM on July 9, 2013 [12 favorites]


I do think that instead of just hating him it would also be an interesting exercise to study how he came to possess such beliefs so fervently and see if it has changed over the years. There are many other sci-fi and other genre writers who have gone around the bend and it's worth understanding why, if to better engage them. And people do certainly find literary merit in some of his writings, see previously. Also, other content creators.
posted by Apocryphon at 3:31 PM on July 9, 2013 [3 favorites]


I argued about this with him just about twenty years ago in his forum on CompuServe. We had a long back-and-forth exchange over several days. He was making the naturalistic (evolutionary) argument and I took it apart piece-by-piece. It didn't make a difference, his was a conclusion that just needed a convenient justification, whatever is at hand.

What was weird about it was how civil and otherwise reasonable he seemed. I felt like I was corresponding with an intelligent, thoughtful, and informed person. But the proof was in the pudding.

Even so, for me, in my experience arguing for gay rights in the late eighties and early nineties, and within the context of fandom, I was actually pretty impressed that Card wasn't just spewing hatred and bile, like most everyone else was. That's damning with faint praise, of course, and it's revealing that he's not moved one inch in the intervening twenty years whereas so many people who were spewing hatred and bile then have changed their opinions since.

Like annathea, I was struck by Songmaster. Card's homophobia is not what you'd expect from his writing. Well, at least from his writing prior to 1995, which is the last time I read anything from him. I didn't ever consider self-hating homophobia, although that makes a lot of sense. I'd assumed his beliefs were religiously motivated.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 3:32 PM on July 9, 2013 [13 favorites]


If the movie has anti-gay rhetoric in it, then it would be a no-brainer to avoid it.

If it stays true to the book it will actually have naked young boys wrestling in steamy showers with throngs of other naked young boys watching.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 3:33 PM on July 9, 2013 [15 favorites]


I'm not only boycotting it. I'm going to torrent it. Burn it to DVD. Delete the file.Destroy the DVD and torrent it again.

I gotta pay for bandwidth here in NZ. But you know what I've been craving. One of those fancy blank DVDs from America. How about you send me one, and I'll PayPal you? Also, I'd make sure it gets shared via local university networks. Researching blank DVDs for sociology and shit.
posted by hal_c_on at 3:34 PM on July 9, 2013 [6 favorites]


When you find yourself paraphrasing Ricky Roma's "I subscribe to the law of contrary public opinion" speech from Glengary Glenn Ross, it is useful to remember that he was a hustler and a crook.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 3:34 PM on July 9, 2013 [8 favorites]


this thread all seems to be the same people with the same beliefs all congratulating each other on what a despicable person Orson Scott Card is.

...whenever I see that kind of group thinking, and with no other alternative point of view being presented, I feel obligated to play devil's advocate. I'm just stubborn that way.

Don't look now, but your self-congratulations are a lot more overt than anybody else's.
posted by Sing Or Swim at 3:36 PM on July 9, 2013 [12 favorites]


He's on the board of the National Organization for Marriage. Being on a board usually means you either give a lot or raise a lot of money for the cause.

rth: hmm... that makes it less likely I'll be paying money to see this (now I'm hoping it sucks).
posted by el io at 3:37 PM on July 9, 2013


To those people, OSC is a flaming liberal who is dragging us all down to hell with his evil novels.

There are racists who think that black people and white people shouldn't mix. There are other racists who think that's too soft and want all out race war so non-whites can be purged from the face of the earth.

Both kinds of racist are assholes.
posted by brundlefly at 3:37 PM on July 9, 2013 [61 favorites]


"So it is a flat lie to say that homosexuals are deprived of any civil right pertaining to marriage. To get those civil rights, all homosexuals have to do is find someone of the opposite sex willing to join them in marriage."

Holy geez. I'm sitting here formulating rebuttals like "yeah, way to protect the sanctity of marriage" and "because when you're on your deathbed it's SO comforting to know someone who is not the one you love will have survivor's benefits"; y'know, as if I was speaking to a rational being. Crikey that is some messed up substitute for thinking.
posted by George_Spiggott at 3:39 PM on July 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


That's right, I compared the Ring Cycle to Ender's Game.

Also: Dan Simmons is a rampant Islamophobe kook ever since 9/11 happened, but who wouldn't watch the heck out of an adaptation of the Hyperion Cantos? There's got to be a way to separate a work from the man who made it. If patronizing a work means subsidizing the man, then find some way to counteract the man's actions in addition to patronizing his work.
posted by Apocryphon at 3:39 PM on July 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


I'd just like to congratulate IRFH for his forward thinking and modesty.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 3:40 PM on July 9, 2013 [9 favorites]


There certainly seems to be an element of projection about his homophobia.

It's nearly impossible to avoid consuming media created by horrible people. That said, Card definitely strains my tendency to make an effort to consume art and media without (much) consideration about how good or horrible the person is who made it. I'm still undecided in this case.
posted by chimaera at 3:41 PM on July 9, 2013


Card sets up Ender to be the sincere, abused innocent, and rigs the game to make us accept that he does no wrong. But in the real world genocide is not committed by accident.

Ender may be a sincere abused innocent, but he still commits acts of unquestionable violence. In the right conditions, he becomes a psychopath. The message I got from Ender's Game was not that Ender could do no wrong. The violence he commits against his peers is portrayed as breath-taking. He is never allowed to return to those settings*. The message I got was that if you remove anyone from the immediate results of their own actions, from facing the emotions the consequences draw out of them, they are capable of great and terrible savagery.

* I think. It's been a while since I read the book. I can't exactly remember when he gets shipped to advanced officer ninja force training whatever school.
posted by maryr at 3:42 PM on July 9, 2013 [8 favorites]


It's an interesting question, whether to separate the person from the message or to conclude that the person is the message. I'm going with option one; I reserve the right to decide someone's an asshole and still appreciate their art as a separate item.
posted by Mooski at 3:43 PM on July 9, 2013


Yeah, it is very difficult to read Ender's retaliation scenes, or the homosexual's punishment in Songmaster, etc., and not be tempted into armchair forensic psychology of presuming some form of abuse in his own childhood.
posted by George_Spiggott at 3:44 PM on July 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


Hatred, even if presented in an intelligent and thoughtful manner, is still hatred.
posted by tommasz at 3:44 PM on July 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


Mel Gibson is another useful case study. Or Roman Polanski?
posted by Apocryphon at 3:45 PM on July 9, 2013


He's not just a homophobe. He's actively worked and organized and used what public profile he has as a bully pulpit to say that gays should be illegal and imprisoned, complete with the occasional harsh prosecutions of some queers to keep the rest of us in line and invisible. He's not just some schlub who donated to NOM, he's on the frickin board. IIRC, he has said that treasonous insurrection would be a valid response to marriage equality.

And now that he's facing some consequences for his bigotry, "OH SORRY THAT'S ALL MOOT PLEASE GIVE ME MONEY STILL!"
posted by rmd1023 at 3:46 PM on July 9, 2013 [30 favorites]


It's an interesting question, whether to separate the person from the message or to conclude that the person is the message. I'm going with option one; I reserve the right to decide someone's an asshole and still appreciate their art as a separate item.

Those aren't the only options, though. You can also appreciate some aspects of the art, find others problematic, and decide not to further support the artist in either case, as a means of speaking with your dollars. Which is about where I fall.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 3:46 PM on July 9, 2013 [5 favorites]


Canageek wrote: I don't read OSC because I've read two so-so short stories by him (in larger collections) and started one truly horrible, awful novel. That would be Heart's Hope, and I got less then two chapters in, for reasons the first paragraph of the wikipedia plot summary should make clear.

Hart's Hope is Card's best novel. I don't know why an author of such promise should turn into a hack, but there you are. It's very confronting in places and some of his tropes are tiresome in retrospect, but it's rich and dense and very nearly mythic.

Also, if you're going to hate on Card for being a closeted self-hating gay you really need to read it for the extra ammunition it provides.
posted by Joe in Australia at 3:46 PM on July 9, 2013


Wait... I'm sorry, is it too intolerant of me to be mad at someone for saying I should be dead or imprisoned?
posted by rmd1023 at 3:46 PM on July 9, 2013 [8 favorites]


There certainly seems to be an element of projection about his homophobia.

Yeah, maybe, but lbr the reasons behind his disgusting overt homophobia don't matter in the least and I for one do not give a great big greased up jiggly flying fuck why he is the way he is, because I think he's scum.

on preview i think polanski should be fed live and screaming to weasels, what's your point
posted by elizardbits at 3:48 PM on July 9, 2013 [16 favorites]


So far this thread all seems to be the same people with the same beliefs all congratulating each other on what a dolt Seasparrow is. Good for you! I'm glad you found a community of like-minded friends here on the internet. But whenever I see that kind of group thinking, and with no other alternative point of view being presented, I feel obligated to... nah, I agree.
posted by stenseng at 3:48 PM on July 9, 2013 [6 favorites]


I'm not in favour of boycotting the work someone does because their opinions are upsetting. I think it's an absurd, reactionary stance actually. Now, if the film itself is full of homophobic rhetoric, that's a different story. But part of the value of created works is that they have a worth and significance independent of their creator. In fact, if a horrible person produces something worthwhile, it's almost redeeming for them. It may be the only thing of value that their presence contributes; it's foolish, wasteful and pointless to dismiss that.

That said, the movie's never as good as the book amirite. I don't even remember whether I liked the book.
posted by windykites at 3:51 PM on July 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


I understand that it is easy to talk about this in terms of money but I've recently realized that it's a bit of a sideshow.

Card's primary mission has not been to deny people money. It has been to slander them, to punish them, and most importantly to deny them a seat at the communal table that is humanity.

So he sowed, and now he reaps. He had a moment of artistic glory in Ender's Game and it will remain a great piece of art, but he has squandered the right to be celebrated for it. He can stay at humanity's table but he gets moved down to the children's end along with everyone else who is not mature enough to be with the grown-ups.

Not seeing the movie is a good start, but better is to make sure that knowledge of his hateful words gets spread far and wide. Hell, a larger public profile for him may be a good thing as long as it is accompanied by knowledge of a what a crackpot loser he has become.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 3:53 PM on July 9, 2013 [8 favorites]


I wasn't going to see it because Ender's Game is just a big sanction of genocides, but yeah, OSC is pretty awful every time he opens his mouth.

To be fair, it's pretty much the opposite of this (at least in my interpretation).

I decided I wasn't going to go see this all on my own, a personal boycott. I've read a lot of his books. I don't regret having done so, but I've consciously decided I am not longer going to contribute to a bigot. It's a fairly easy line for me to draw generally.
posted by cjorgensen at 3:53 PM on July 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


windykites: I'm not in favour of boycotting the work someone does because their opinions are upsetting.

Except that this is a clear case of giving your money to someone who will use it to actively engage in making other people's lives worse. You don't see a difference?
posted by tzikeh at 3:54 PM on July 9, 2013 [10 favorites]


I think Cory is one o' them deviant attentionsexuals: sexually attracted to a single mass gender composed of click fingers and eyeballs.
posted by basicchannel at 3:54 PM on July 9, 2013 [6 favorites]


For me the best possible outcome here is that the movie is decent, but virtually no one goes to see it and the blame is laid squarely upon OSC and his shitty worldview. He then recants his positions because he'd rather be a rich shit-heel than a poor shit-heel. the movie is then re-released into theaters and I can happily see it with no misgivings. or i'll just find a pirate site online and watch it for free.
posted by OHenryPacey at 3:57 PM on July 9, 2013


what an unpleasant shoggothian mental image
posted by elizardbits at 3:57 PM on July 9, 2013 [7 favorites]


But you know what I've been craving. One of those fancy blank DVDs from America. How about you send me one,

In November I will have a few vintage blank DVDs that may be of interest in NZ.
posted by Ad hominem at 3:57 PM on July 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


Except that this is a clear case of giving your money to someone who will use it to actively engage in making other people's lives worse. You don't see a difference?

You know what? I do. I've changed my mind; I can appreciate the art separate from the person, but I need not give money to someone to use as a bully platform for hate.

Thanks for the perspective.
posted by Mooski at 3:58 PM on July 9, 2013 [31 favorites]


I feel bad for all the other people who worked on the film. I'm going to find the credits and send each of them a nickle.
posted by Ad hominem at 4:00 PM on July 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


Blazecock Pileon: "> Well, at least Cory's not gonna boycott it.

Ugh. I really never ever in a million years thought it would even be physically possible to have less respect for Cory Doctorow, but, as always, he continues to surprise.
posted by sexyrobot at 4:03 PM on July 9, 2013 [14 favorites]


Y'know, I'm okay with the fact that he doesn't cotton well to folks like me, but I was planning on taking a pass on the movie anyway. It looks terribad, and about as related to the original book as Speaker for the Dead was.
posted by qcubed at 4:04 PM on July 9, 2013


seasparrow wrote...
I feel obligated to play devil's advocate.

I believe you are needed over in the Pacific Rim thread, where everyone is going on about how rocket assisted giant robot punches are awesome.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 4:04 PM on July 9, 2013 [20 favorites]


Is Card a producer?

yes, he is


Nowhere in that article does it say Card is a producer. Card's production company Fresco Pictures isn't listed anywhere on the movie's IMDB page. So the question's still open as far as I'm concerned.
posted by dortmunder at 4:13 PM on July 9, 2013


I still think I've got his number about his older brother having abused him.

No matter what the initial justification for his homophobia was, though, OSC has had plenty of time to realize how wrong-headed his hatred is. The man's educated; he's not stupid. He ought to have realized by now that he's had his head up his ass. But he just keeps right on spewing the hate.

Christ, what a douchecanoe.
posted by misha at 4:14 PM on July 9, 2013 [6 favorites]


It's certainly easy and satisfying to loudly boycott the film if you hated the book and think the movie looks stupid and have been yelling about OSC being a homophobic asshole for YEARS, OH MY GOD.

Now me, I read Ender's Game at a highly formative age, and it made a lasting impression on me. This is not to say that I think it's an unimpeachable work or that its position w/r/t genocide is above reproach or anything like that, but it was and is a serious, thoughtful SF book that a lot of people read, and got a lot out of.

That said, the idea of giving OSC money is repellent, to me.

And yet the idea of boycotting what appears to be a serious, faithful adaptation of an important SF book by someone other than P. K. Dick, a production that involved and benefitted thousands of people who aren't asshole homophobes, just because the originator of the story happens to be one, is also repellent to me. I care deeply about science fiction filmmaking, and I loved this book as a kid; I read it over and over, it gave me solace in times of sadness, strength in times of weakness.

As an adult, I recognize the book's problems, but I can't change that it was important to me as a child.

So honestly I don't know what I'm going to do. I certainly understand and support the boycott of the film. I'm sure most of my nerd friends will not see it.

For my part, I don't know what I'm going to do. I haven't decided. If I go, I won't be able to admit it in polite company.

But whatever I happen to decide, discussion of the work's author is going to be louder than discussion of the work, probably forever. I wonder if OSC realizes the damage he's done to his literary legacy with his bigotry.
posted by Sokka shot first at 4:15 PM on July 9, 2013 [36 favorites]


One of the things that surprised me from the AV Club piece:
Over the years, Card’s homophobia has only grown prouder and more flamboyant, as the author continued to take aim at “dictator-judges” who would force laws granting marriage to “tragic genetic mix-ups.”

...so, wait, he DOESN'T think homosexuality is a choice? Because I kinda thought that was the standard homophobe thing. "You're choosing to do something I find icky icky icky so no rights for you!"

But... if they're, in OSC's words, "tragic genetic mixups", then... they're born that way, but... still don't deserve rights?

I mean the whole "choosing to be icky" thing means you're a total asshole anyway, sure -- but this just seems like a whole different LEVEL of asshole.

Ugh.
posted by Rev. Syung Myung Me at 4:15 PM on July 9, 2013 [3 favorites]


Card's production company Fresco Pictures isn't listed anywhere on the movie's IMDB page.

He is, however, personally credited as a producer here.
posted by brundlefly at 4:15 PM on July 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


He already has the money. He's already been paid, as was pointed out above. Boycotting the movie won't change that, unfortunately.

I mean, I can see why people want to do this. But I don't think it accomplishes anything. Boycotting or protesting the group he's a part of as a hate group seems like a more direct and effective way to actually make a difference.

Plus, even if the money went to him directly- he's getting paid to create, not to be a homophobe. I don't think they are the same thing. What if he were a mechanic, the best mechanic in town with the most reasonable prices? You're paying for his work, not his opinions, and he's gotta eat too. Removing someone's livelihood won't change their mind or limit their damage.
posted by windykites at 4:16 PM on July 9, 2013


I am not looking forward to this film, but I am looking forward with great anticipation to the thousands of homofriendly and hilarious remixes and mashups and image macros that are going to explode all over the internets as soon as digital copies become available.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 4:16 PM on July 9, 2013 [6 favorites]


But... if they're, in OSC's words, "tragic genetic mixups", then... they're born that way, but... still don't deserve rights?

He also believes that gays are the products of child molestation. I think it's safe to say he hasn't examined his beliefs too closely.
posted by brundlefly at 4:17 PM on July 9, 2013 [4 favorites]


Like so many here, I read Ender's Game before I knew about Card's views. I also thought he was closeted after reading about his obvious crush/infatuation with Gregg Keizer in the introduction of Speaker for the Dead. It made me laugh a bit when I first read it; I thought it was cute. But later, when I learned he was homophobic, it wasn't cute, it was creepy.

All that blah blah on my part, but I want to see the movie.

You know, I boycotted Woody Allen for a while, then broke down and saw Bullet's Over Broadway, and it was b r i l l i a n t!!

I don't know the answer. NO, I don't want to give OSC my money, but I don't want to deny myself the movie-going experience here. Is that childish on my part? I mean, I really don't know.
posted by MoxieProxy at 4:18 PM on July 9, 2013


I can't wait for the hardcore gay porn parody that will doubtlessly be made.
posted by elizardbits at 4:18 PM on July 9, 2013 [4 favorites]


They wouldn't have to change the title.
posted by brundlefly at 4:19 PM on July 9, 2013 [13 favorites]


If people want to see the movie anyway, why not wait for it to be on cable? Or just download it.
posted by elizardbits at 4:19 PM on July 9, 2013 [3 favorites]



He is, however, personally credited as a producer here.


Okay. I stand corrected.
posted by dortmunder at 4:20 PM on July 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


Gamer's End.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 4:20 PM on July 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


Ender then proceeds the rest of the series wandering the known galaxy in atonement of his monumental sins, so I don't think the book was condoning xenocide, no.

It's been a while since I read any of the Ender books, but my memory is that Ender is portrayed as being burdened with guilt about the xenocide, but in a way that the reader is inclined to excuse him and think he was not really at fault because he didn't know what he was doing.

Ender feels bad about his role in the xenocide, but he doesn't (and can't) have any sort of moral change of heart. He's a tragic victim of circumstances like Oedipus rather than a repentant villain.
posted by straight at 4:21 PM on July 9, 2013 [4 favorites]


I'll probably do that - I'll wait til it's functionally free for me to watch (netflix streaming, premium cable, something else where there's no marginal cost for the film for me). I did that with the film version of "Hannibal", which was as bad as I expected, but that way I didn't feel bad about actually supporting the film with my money.
posted by rmd1023 at 4:22 PM on July 9, 2013


Gamer's End.

Ender's Gay
posted by It's Never Lurgi at 4:22 PM on July 9, 2013 [4 favorites]


Alternately, buy a ticket for something else playing at the same time and just walk into the other theatre.

come and get me mpaa

idgaf
posted by elizardbits at 4:23 PM on July 9, 2013 [29 favorites]


If people want to see the movie anyway, why not wait for it to be on cable? Or just download it.

That's my plan. And that's pretty much what I did with the book. I read Ender's Game as an adult and already knew about his abhorrent views, so I bought a banged up old copy at a used book store.
posted by brundlefly at 4:24 PM on July 9, 2013


Ender's Aim

Benders Came

Gender's Same

posted by MoxieProxy at 4:27 PM on July 9, 2013 [7 favorites]


I'm not in favour of boycotting the work someone does because their opinions are upsetting.

So if you were gay, but your surgeon said he didn't like gays, you'd be willing to go under his knife? The man you hired to mow your lawn has a swastika tattoo you don't care if you neighbors see? The tutor that shows up to teach your kids French has a shirt that say, "Women: Can't Live With 'em, Can't Shoot 'em!" The gas station down the street has a sign up supporting NAMBLA.

Where do you draw your line?
posted by cjorgensen at 4:28 PM on July 9, 2013 [5 favorites]


He's a tragic victim of circumstances like Oedipus rather than a repentant villain.

Which is how chickenhawks always talk about war. "War is hell," it's "tragic," but sometimes you get backed into a corner and have no choice but to kill 100,000 civilians. They might claim to feel sad that they were forced to do it, but not guilty or repentant.
posted by straight at 4:29 PM on July 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


what I find so contemptible is that it wasn't that long ago that Card was suggesting that if the government started recognizing all marriages equally, he was going to support and participate in the violent overthrow of that government. Now it's actually happened, and he's all "heh. Um. Bygones be bygones, amirite?"

No, you contemptible hypocrite. Even free speech has consequences.
posted by KathrynT at 4:32 PM on July 9, 2013 [29 favorites]


Removing someone's livelihood won't change their mind or limit their damage.

He literally uses his money to further bigotry.
posted by kmz at 4:38 PM on July 9, 2013 [6 favorites]


I'm not in favour of boycotting the work someone does because their opinions are upsetting. I think it's an absurd, reactionary stance actually.

Reslly? You think it's absurd and reactionary to think "Hmmm, this guy uses his time, money and fame trying to deny others their rights; maybe I won't put money in his pocket"?

I could see an argument if he was long dead, or had changed his mind, or if there were no way that he could profit from our consumption of his work. I have no problem listening to Wagner or Miles Davis, or reading Roald Dahl, because I agree that enjoying a piece of work can be separate from the creator's failings. But when someone is very publicly using his money to do evil things, how the fuck can you call "absurd" the decision to not give him more money, to be used doing more evil things?
posted by metaBugs at 4:40 PM on July 9, 2013 [6 favorites]


I foresee a tie-in between Ender's game and Chik-Fil-A in the near dystopian future.
posted by Renoroc at 4:41 PM on July 9, 2013 [8 favorites]


"Where do you draw your line?" Probably far before any of those examples.

But... I'm listening to Miles Davis right now, and I won't stop (although, in that case, i'm supporting his estate, but if he were alive, I'd still be listening).

But put this another way - how many people do you know that support China's actions towards Tibet? How man people do you know that support China's actions towards political dissidents? (in both of those cases people are really dying). How many people do you that support Saudi Arabia's political regime and actions towards dissidents (and women)?

Now, how many people do you know that actively boycott anything made in China, or refuse to use oil from Saudi Arabia (yeah, i don't have any clue how you would try to manage that)?

I've known a single human being that boycott's Chinese products (it's a tough tough road for her) - and she does it for health concerns (doesn't trust them to properly police their supply chain to ensure that their goods are made with non-toxic materials).

So, we can get all up in arms, and try to not support someone whose political speech we find repugnant, but lets not pretend that we are actually consistent in who we boycott, or who we refuse to financially support. (note: if you do support China's actions towards Tibet and its people as well as its stance towards political dissidents this may not apply to you).
posted by el io at 4:41 PM on July 9, 2013 [7 favorites]


How about you watch the film, but also write a polite letter to him expressing how much you enjoy his work while how bad his political views are. Shame him into self-reflection.
posted by Apocryphon at 4:42 PM on July 9, 2013


yeah I really think another letter is gonna change his mind! why didn't we think of that before
posted by NoraReed at 4:44 PM on July 9, 2013 [4 favorites]


What a fucking weasle. I'm glad people are calling him on his bullshit.
posted by Artw at 4:44 PM on July 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


but lets not pretend that we are actually consistent in who we boycott, or who we refuse to financially support. (note: if you do support China's actions towards Tibet and its people as well as its stance towards political dissidents this may not apply to you).

The stance you're taking here assumes that everybody assesses value in exactly the same manner you do, and with exactly the same outcome. I guarantee that this is not the case.
posted by Ipsifendus at 4:46 PM on July 9, 2013 [3 favorites]


but lets not pretend that we are actually consistent in who we boycott, or who we refuse to financially support.

I don't think anyone is pretending this? As you say, it is nearly impossible to boycott things like Chinese-made products, or Saudi oil. But boycotting or just simply avoiding this film is not an impossible feat, it's really incredibly easy. I don't think that somehow makes the boycotters/avoiders in any way disingenuous or contemptible.
posted by elizardbits at 4:47 PM on July 9, 2013 [14 favorites]


He already has the money. He's already been paid, as was pointed out above. Boycotting the movie won't change that, unfortunately.

Since he's listed as a producer, he probably opted for a minor option amount on the book itself, in exchange for a percentage of the back-end, including secondary market streams like rentals and DVD sales, as well as future options on sequels.

Boycotting the movie could help throw a monkey wrench in some of this.
posted by Thorzdad at 4:47 PM on July 9, 2013 [4 favorites]


It depends. I definitely don't think it's appropriate to compare seeing a movie based on a book writtend by a homophobe to actually getting invasive surgurey from someone who has made it clear that they hate me, and could conceivably use their power to deliberatly injure or kill me, and I think that kind of straw man is dispespectful and hyperbolic.

If someone's opinions aren't affecting their ability to do their job, and they aren't being disrespectful or unprofessional while on the job, I have a pretty large limit for what's allowable. I would ask the lawnmower guy to cover his tattoo if I noticed it and it made me uncomfortable. If he started to make me feel unsafe, with his physical presence on my private property, I wouldn't ask him back. But the problem is that all of your examples are of someone being physically present and inflicting their views in an inappropriate way. If OSC shows up in the theatre and starts rambling about gays, obviously I won't pay for that. I mean, people have shitty opinions. Some are open about them, some aren't. There are probably many people whom I pay that have opinions I would dislike.

I mean, I'm black. I read a lot of old books, which means I read a lot of books written by racists, some that have appaling and explicit racist content. I still pay for the books. I still enjoy the non-shitty parts. You know? I even take in current media written by racists or, sometimes, including racist content. I try to avoid it because it makes me upset. But if some racist puts out a brilliant music album, and I really enjoy it, I can forgive the fact that maybe the creator just believes certain stereotypes and uses them thoughtlessly. I have to be able to do this, or the amount of media I could take in would be absolutely miniscule. There's still value there, even though there's stuff that's also really upsetting. The upsetting stuff won't stop existing if I refuse to pay.

I dunno. I'm not saying these are easy decisions to make, and if someone is too upset by this man to be able to enjoy the movie, I can understand that. But I just don't think, in this instance, that a boycott is worthwhile.
posted by windykites at 4:48 PM on July 9, 2013 [11 favorites]


In order to completely avoid Chinese goods, I would have to basically knit my own underpants. In order to completely avoid seeing Ender's Game, all I have to do is not go see Ender's Game.
posted by KathrynT at 4:48 PM on July 9, 2013 [25 favorites]


Removing someone's livelihood won't change their mind or limit their damage.

I'm sure you're right about changing his mind but, FFS, America is the spiritual home of "vote with your dollars!" and "money is power!". Do you honestly believe that chucking him a few million dollars won't increase his reach, and won't bolster the campaigns to which he donates?
posted by metaBugs at 4:48 PM on July 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


I've read Ender's Game, Ender's Shadow, Songmaster and Speaker for the Dead -- and found them all worth the trouble. Good, solid page turners that even provoked a little thinking. Only afterward did I find out about the guy's homophobia, which raises a difficult question: do I now renounce these books and their author?

I think, no. Card becomes like various people I've know over the years (a few of them good friends) -- people who've managed to both impress and appall me. I choose to put my focus on what I consider best about them, and not encourage the assholism. Maybe it'll have an effect. Maybe it won't. But I don't see much good coming from shrugging anybody off entirely -- particularly when they do have something positive to offer.

As to how this applies concretely to Ender's Game (the movie), I suspect it means that if the reviews are sufficiently solid, I'll go. But I won't be doing any apologizing for Mr. Card's assholism.
posted by philip-random at 4:48 PM on July 9, 2013


yeah I really think another letter is gonna change his mind! why didn't we think of that before

No, but imagine what if it was a mass letter-writing campaign designed to shame him publicly. Maybe a petition would work better.
posted by Apocryphon at 4:53 PM on July 9, 2013


Hey- didn't realise about the producer thing. So he is making money from this then, presumably. That sucks, and I'm sorry that he'll put a portion of his income towards a hate group. If there's any mobilisation towards disbanding this hate group, i'd be interested in that. But boycotting the movie still doesn't click for me. I hope you guys find it effective for you, but I really think it won't do much but momentarily satisfy some spite. Which is fine, it's your money.
posted by windykites at 4:57 PM on July 9, 2013


OSC will never know that I boycotted the movie, but I'll know. I'll know that I thought about it and decided not to support him in any way. It's not just my dollars that I won't spend, it's also the time to watch the movie and the participation as an audience member that I won't spend.
posted by sineater at 4:57 PM on July 9, 2013 [16 favorites]


From the Badass Digest article: nor, for that matter, do I want to celebrate the personal lives of Roman Polanski or Charles Dickens or T.S. Eliot.

What's wrong with Dickens and Eliot? Did they also drug and rape young girls? I did some cursory research that pointed to them being caddish and unfaithful. Is that enough to put a man in Polanski's company?

There must be more to the story, maybe someone can help me understand, but I don't want to create a big derail. If it's better handled in memail, I understand. I'm just surprised and curious.

It would be difficult indeed to boycott Dickens. I thought he was a champion of children's rights.
posted by Ice Cream Socialist at 4:58 PM on July 9, 2013


Ender's Game is a bad novel. Ender is a horrifying, awful person, but Card deliberately manipulates the reader into having sympathy for him by playing on tropes about bullying and intelligent children. He then has it culminate in an act of genocide.

Orson Scott Card is a person who has gotten into an elevated status, both in terms of money and access to media, and used it to spread hate and deny people civil rights. He doesn't deserve respect as an artist. The film should be avoided on principle.
posted by graymouser at 5:00 PM on July 9, 2013 [5 favorites]


For me it isn't about what OSC believes. It is the fact that he will take my money and give it to hate groups.

Eliot was an Anti-Semite, but he's dead. He is not likely to use my money to spread hate.
posted by Ad hominem at 5:01 PM on July 9, 2013 [3 favorites]


I'm probably going to go see the movie. I enjoyed the book and look forward to seeing some of the actors work. Yes, OSC is a dick. His dickishness is probably getting a lot more coverage with non-sf readers now that "Enders Game" is a movie. That's a good thing. So, he gets more dollars, but more people will recognize him as a dick.
posted by Mojojojo at 5:04 PM on July 9, 2013


I hope you guys find it effective for you, but I really think it won't do much but momentarily satisfy some spite.

Me personally electing to not give him my money will have the actual direct outcome of him not having that money to give to a hate group. I am not sure how this is confusing to you.
posted by elizardbits at 5:04 PM on July 9, 2013 [40 favorites]


He already has the money. He's already been paid, as was pointed out above. Boycotting the movie won't change that, unfortunately.

I mean, I can see why people want to do this. But I don't think it accomplishes anything. Boycotting or protesting the group he's a part of as a hate group seems like a more direct and effective way to actually make a difference.


If you refuse to think of it as "let's not give money to a guy who will give it to hate groups," think of it as a way to show the TV and film industry that people won't pay money for stuff written by homophobes. If the boycott works, the movie tanks, and no sequel or miniseries or anything like that gets made by a bug studio. Sure, maybe one of those evangelical movie studios Rick Santorum is talking about might pick it up, if they can get over seeing Mormons as heretical and if OSC makes a gay character irredeemably evil. But that's their coin to spend, not ours.
posted by zombieflanders at 5:07 PM on July 9, 2013 [6 favorites]


Dickens was insanely anti-Semitic. Comes out quite loudly in his books.
posted by windykites at 5:07 PM on July 9, 2013


So this weekend Card came up in conversation--I was talking with a guy who, during our conversation, claims to have slept with Card at some sort of convention. (Which isn't surprising, I guess--or it may have been a lie. Who knows?)

In any case, I'll save my money. I'm having a harder and harder time as I age separating art from artist, at least for those artists still alive. I don't mind harmless whack-jobs, but hateful people who actively try to make my friends miserable or deny them rights? Fuck them.

Also, I absolutely despise the "deny them a living" canard. This is mostly floated by people who, in my experience, also say stuff like "life doesn't owe you anything" and "let them get a job if they need money" when talking about helping the downtrodden. The "deny them a living" bullshit is also almost always used when the person in question already has enough money to die rich.
posted by maxwelton at 5:07 PM on July 9, 2013 [5 favorites]


Dickens was insanely anti-Semitic. Comes out quite loudly in his books.

Dickens has been dead for almost 150 years, and as far as I know does not sit on the managing board of, say, Stormfront.
posted by zombieflanders at 5:09 PM on July 9, 2013 [11 favorites]


seasparrow: "I'm glad you found a community of like-minded friends here on the internet. But whenever I see that kind of group thinking, and with no other alternative point of view being presented, I feel obligated to play devil's advocate. I'm just stubborn that way. "

LIBERTARIAN BINGO
posted by scrump at 5:10 PM on July 9, 2013 [22 favorites]


adamrice: there was an argument—far-fetched but made in earnest—that OSC had not written Ender's Game

Orson Scott Card Has Always Been An Asshat by localroger, kuro5hin.org. The story is based on an conversation with Elaine Radford, who wrote Ender and Hitler: Sympathy for the Superman.
posted by curious.jp at 5:10 PM on July 9, 2013 [9 favorites]


Okay, and if Dickens was alive today and was known to donate the profits of his literary endeavours to organizations promoting 21st century Nazi rhetoric then he would not get my money either.
posted by elizardbits at 5:10 PM on July 9, 2013 [6 favorites]


so uh

i remain confused about your inability to grok this
posted by elizardbits at 5:11 PM on July 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


windykites - I'm sorry that he'll put a portion of his income towards a hate group
If you don't like the hate group, and want to see them disbanded, and don't want to see money going to them, then why are you comfortable giving your money to a guy who is going to use it to fund that hate group?

Is it a "guns don't kill people" sort of argument, in which you have no responsibility for what's done with your money, even if it's totally obvious that he's planning to do something abhorrent? Or do you think that the money from your specific ticket stub is too small to make a noticable difference?

momentarily satisfy some spite
It's not about spite. I don't hate the guy or want him to suffer, I just don't want to hand over money while knowing that some of it will be used to fund a hate group. I really don't see how that's confusing.

phillip random - I'll go. But I won't be doing any apologizing for Mr. Card's assholism.
...you'll just be taking the decision to give him money, knowing that some of it will be spent on the thing that you won't be apologising for.
posted by metaBugs at 5:12 PM on July 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


That's right, I compared the Ring Cycle to Ender's Game.

Wagner is dead and has been dead for ONE HUNDRED AND THIRTY YEARS. He is not actively making money off his work and sending it to Nazis and writing anti-Semitic essays and has not been in a position to do so for more than a century.

Boycotting the works of a dead man who is not getting royalties from anything (unless this new prosperity gospel works very differently than the previous one and you CAN take it with you) is in no way comparable to funding an actual living person who is alive right now giving money to bigots.

It's like Wager is the free space in some 'well, look at all these bigots you like!' bingo card that gets passed out for arguments about boycotting things based on the artist. It drives me crazy.

There are people who don't like Wagner's music because of the revolting things he said. But in this case, it makes no sense to argue within the context of a boycott of a living author and bring up Wagner because they're two totally separate issues.

If Wagner were still alive and still a weird bitter racist because he hated Meyerbeer, then no, I wouldn't buy his music. But on account of time flowing one way and no resurrection spells in this universe, it's not relevant to this conversation.
posted by winna at 5:13 PM on July 9, 2013 [4 favorites]


Im not confused, elizardbits. I just don't think OSC's percentage of your $10.50 movie ticket, which he may or may not have contributed to his homophobic group, is going to make a difference. I could very well be wrong about that, but that's how I feel.
posted by windykites at 5:14 PM on July 9, 2013


Look, if this author wants to practice his homophobic lifestyle behind closed doors in the privacy of his own home, that's none of my business. But he's parading it around, extolling its virtues! How the hell am I supposed to explain that to my children?
posted by Cookiebastard at 5:14 PM on July 9, 2013 [34 favorites]


One possible alternative is to offset the money that goes into the ticket by donating an equivalent or, better yet, a multiple of the cost, to a group that is opposed to his.
posted by Apocryphon at 5:18 PM on July 9, 2013 [5 favorites]


In order to completely avoid Chinese goods, I would have to basically knit my own underpants. In order to completely avoid seeing Ender's Game, all I have to do is not go see Ender's Game.

What if I knit you some Ender's Game underpants, though? WHAT WOULD YOU DO THEN?
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 5:18 PM on July 9, 2013 [5 favorites]


I don't care if his percentage is one millionth of 1%. He's not fucking getting it from me. Not sure how I can be clearer about this without interpretive dance which as always I am wholly willing to do.
posted by elizardbits at 5:20 PM on July 9, 2013 [41 favorites]


The Dickens comment was in response to Ice Cream Socialist's question, btw- not about OSC or the movie or his works or anything. I should have memailed it, sorry. /derail.
posted by windykites at 5:22 PM on July 9, 2013


Im not confused, elizardbits. I just don't think OSC's percentage of your $10.50 movie ticket, which he may or may not have contributed to his homophobic group, is going to make a difference. I could very well be wrong about that, but that's how I feel.

This is getting obtuse, but let's try to make it even easier for you. There are three outcomes: you give the man money and he gives it to hate groups, you give the man money and he doesn't give it to hate groups, or you don't give the man money in the first place. The first has a likelihood of roughly 100%, the second 0%, and the third means that no matter what he doesn't give the hate groups your money.

Clear? If so, then why do you still insist on making the argument against outcome #3?
posted by zombieflanders at 5:24 PM on July 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


Really really hard modern moral dilemma here I see. Shall I go spend a few hours and watch a movie based on a book by an asshole who uses money he makes to advocate hatred against a minority of my fellow citizens, because 'hey this entertainment looks good'. Thereby giving tacit approval for future movies and profit for that asshole, so he can spend more money doing pretty reprehensible advocacy.

I mean geeze, go see the damn movie if you want, it's not the end of the world, but choosing entertainment over a reasonable moral stance, even if it's fun entertainment seems like a little defeate.

Again, go see the movie, by all means. I mean entertainent is important.
posted by edgeways at 5:24 PM on July 9, 2013 [10 favorites]


Wait, so, I'm confused- elizardbits, are you boycotting or not? Because you haven't been clear.

No but seriously, I heard you, you don't want to give him your money. That's fine, as I said earlier- it's your money.
posted by windykites at 5:25 PM on July 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


[AGGRESSIVE PRETENTIOUS DANCING]
posted by elizardbits at 5:26 PM on July 9, 2013 [41 favorites]


Eliot was an Anti-Semite

Dickens was insanely anti-Semitic


Ah right, I was thrown off by the Badass Digest author's reference to personal lives. Thanks for the response.
posted by Ice Cream Socialist at 5:28 PM on July 9, 2013


These are all good points.

What I'm going to do is go, but write a TOS on my $20 stating that by accepting it they agree not to donate it to hate groups. Then I'm going to hire a forensic accountant to carefully track my $20 to ensure that it does not finance hate. If it does, I will not hesitate to launch a brutal and unrelenting legal assault on OSC.
posted by Ad hominem at 5:30 PM on July 9, 2013 [2 favorites]



phillip random - I'll go. But I won't be doing any apologizing for Mr. Card's assholism.
...you'll just be taking the decision to give him money, knowing that some of it will be spent on the thing that you won't be apologising for.
posted by metaBugs


Lemme see. Assuming a 15 dollar ticket, by way of Hollywood accounting. Maybe 17 cents will end up in Mr. Card's bank account (and that's probably being generous). I can suffer the guilt.

Do you drive a vehicle that uses an internal combustion engine?
posted by philip-random at 5:32 PM on July 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


my vehicle is powered by spite and sanctimony
posted by elizardbits at 5:33 PM on July 9, 2013 [34 favorites]


Do you drive a vehicle that uses an internal combustion engine?

it's not a zero sum game.

One can try to minimize their negative impacts on the world.
posted by cjorgensen at 5:34 PM on July 9, 2013 [10 favorites]


"But boycotting the movie still doesn't click for me. I hope you guys find it effective for you, but I really think it won't do much but momentarily satisfy some spite. Which is fine, it's your money."

Money is transitive. Are you comfortable giving your money to a hate group? If not, don't give your money to Orson Scott Card. If you are, well, then, I'ma feel free to judge you as someone who doesn't mind funding hate groups.
posted by klangklangston at 5:34 PM on July 9, 2013 [12 favorites]


elizardbits: so, does that get good mileage?
posted by el io at 5:34 PM on July 9, 2013


i am a neverending well of spite so yeah

*pootles away dramatically*
posted by elizardbits at 5:35 PM on July 9, 2013 [5 favorites]


I feel that having Strong Unkind Opinions on the quality of Ender's Game the book has robbed me of a really solid moral dilemma here.
posted by emmtee at 5:37 PM on July 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


Modern capitalist society provides us with a wealth of confusion as to what are the direct consequences of our actions. On the other hand, it also provides us with many instruments to do good in other ways. Really, events like this provide a good opportunity for groups who are against the author's agenda to draw publicity. They can do fundraisers so that every dollar you spend on the ticket you donate two to their cause, not only canceling out any potential revenue that Mr. Card may receive, but actually negatively affecting it. Making payments has never been easier; you can free your conscience and enjoy the film while sleeping well at night knowing that you didn't help OSC's cause, but rather your own. Think of it as digital indulgences.

What I'm saying is, someone should make a Kickstarter out of this.
posted by Apocryphon at 5:37 PM on July 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


I would absolutely and without hesitation fund a kickstarter that guaranteed he would step on a lego in the dark every single day for the rest of his life.
posted by elizardbits at 5:39 PM on July 9, 2013 [38 favorites]


You know who else was a promising artist before they became a hate filled bigot..
posted by Samuel Farrow at 5:40 PM on July 9, 2013 [6 favorites]


If you believe that your dollars make no difference, ask yourself if your personal "review" makes a difference. When your coworker asks what you did that weekend, will you roll out your philosophical stance on this or will you just allow them to draw their own conclusions as to whether you support the views of OSC? If the latter, will it matter if you think your coworker is gay? Will it matter if you know they have a gay child? Will it matter if you don't care anything about their family? If you decide to say nothing about what you saw that weekend, what does that say?
posted by Morrigan at 5:41 PM on July 9, 2013


curious.jp: "Orson Scott Card Has Always Been An Asshat by localroger, kuro5hin.org. The story is based on an conversation with Elaine Radford, who wrote Ender and Hitler: Sympathy for the Superman."

That's it! Thanks.
posted by adamrice at 5:43 PM on July 9, 2013


Morrigan: I think if everyone sent 20$ to PFLAG upon seeing the movie, the world would be a better place; and the conversation with the coworker would be a comfortable one to have - "Yeah, I saw Enders game, then mailed off a check to PFLAG for 20$".
posted by el io at 5:43 PM on July 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


Bigot offsets?
posted by brundlefly at 5:45 PM on July 9, 2013 [8 favorites]


You know what would be even better? Just sending PFLAG the $20 and not giving any money at all to a crazy homophobe who is guaranteed to give that money to people who want to deny GLBT people their civil rights.
posted by zombieflanders at 5:46 PM on July 9, 2013 [10 favorites]


no give $40 to my lego plan that is the best idea
posted by elizardbits at 5:47 PM on July 9, 2013 [32 favorites]


I just don't think OSC's percentage of your $10.50 movie ticket, which he may or may not have contributed to his homophobic group, is going to make a difference.

The possibility of losing his share of $10.50 times how many people decide to boycott the movie made enough of a difference for him to get vocal about it.
posted by hat_eater at 5:48 PM on July 9, 2013 [25 favorites]


If anyone who sees "Ender's Game" gives $20 to PFLAG and explains that to coworkers, that would be great. If I have a nickel for every time that happens...I'll give it to PFLAG.
posted by Morrigan at 5:49 PM on July 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


Amazing. That AV Club article is golden from start to finish.

That's Sean O'Neal, a national treasure.
posted by Edgewise at 5:50 PM on July 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


If I decide to see the film, I'll see the film, but I won't do some bizarre guilt money shift to offset my guilt. I don't get this at all.

If you believe it is so wrong to see this film, that you'll donate money in a way to offset your guilt, then, come on, DON'T see this film. Really, it's like some weird financial mea culpa that doesn't come out in the wash.
posted by MoxieProxy at 5:50 PM on July 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


If you're going to go see the crazy homophobe movie just admit you don't give a shit and want to see the crazy homophobe movie. Don't waste air with some ridiculous bullshit justification.
posted by Artw at 5:51 PM on July 9, 2013 [10 favorites]


but I really think it won't do much but momentarily satisfy some spite. Which is fine, it's your money.

It's not spite that makes me not want to give money to someone who thinks me and mine are nothing but a bunch of fucked-up civilization-destroying child molesters, a guy who is happy to devote many of his considerable resources to spreading that message. Why would you think it was spite?
posted by rtha at 5:59 PM on July 9, 2013 [4 favorites]


For me, it's spite.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 6:03 PM on July 9, 2013 [7 favorites]


Well, yeah, of course!
posted by rtha at 6:06 PM on July 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


"Look, if this author wants to practice his homophobic lifestyle behind closed doors in the privacy of his own home, that's none of my business. But he's parading it around, extolling its virtues! How the hell am I supposed to explain that to my children?"

Ehh, I think this exposes something that I think we should be a lot more clear on as a movement. It absolutely should be totally ok to feel that gay sex is somehow icky, it should even ok if gay love falls into some uncanny valley of romance for someone and it all just instinctively feels wrong somehow. There are plenty of gay folks who feel the same was about straight sex and straight love and that is also totally ok, hell, as a bi person I have waffled between both depending on my current partner's fiddly bits. Homophobia itself is not necessarily a moral act, at least when its not aped as a learned thing, and there isn't necessarily anything wrong with it exactly.

What is a problem though is thinking that one's own feelings about how much one appreciates gay sex has any relevance to gay people one is not currently sleeping with, letting one's own bullshit get in the way of being anything but happy for others who have found love or support or just a good time in someone else's arms, and just generally failing to be a fucking grown up about how the universe does not revolve around one's own personal prejudices, much less working to deny other people their civil and human rights, participating in a dynamic of brutal violence and exclusion, and preaching both hatred of others and self-hate.
posted by Blasdelb at 6:10 PM on July 9, 2013 [5 favorites]


I always thought the book was sort of crap, so I'm unburdened of any moral quandary - I wouldn't have gone to see it anyway. Whew! dodged that bullet.
posted by Mary Ellen Carter at 6:10 PM on July 9, 2013 [4 favorites]


You can always wait till he's dead to see it. Of course his heirs could also be assholes. But at least he won't be around to enjoy your money.

I often hear discussions about how Repellent Artist is also Important and we should even study his or her repellent thoughts for More Insight.

But, and maybe I'm just a weenie, listening to or reading hateful spew, especially from someone whose work I liked, is like taking a bath in acid. I'm sure I could learn to develop more objectivity about separating artists from their work, given time, but I'm not sure I want to.

I don't have purity tests for authors, but I do have some lines, that, when they cross, they poison their own creations for me. Rape apology. Racial hatred. Holocaust denial. Thinking gay people should be rounded up. There's a lot of authors with problematic opinions who don't go past those lines, for me to enjoy, or if they do, they don't publicize it.

I know there are plenty of artists I read and watch who are still assholes, but if an artist is such an obvious and committed asshole that you can't avoid it, life is just too short, you know? So much good art out there.
posted by emjaybee at 6:12 PM on July 9, 2013 [4 favorites]


If you must see this movie, can I suggest buying a ticket to a movie whose makers aren't morally repugnant and sneaking in to Ender's Game? That was how I saw the Last Airbender movie, and I feel that giving my money to Despicable Me instead was a good choice.
posted by nonasuch at 6:13 PM on July 9, 2013 [5 favorites]


It's not just about the $0.17 he gets from your ticket this one time. If the movie is a success because enough people go, then he is likely to have other movies optioned, and make more money, some of which will go to hate groups.
posted by emjaybee at 6:19 PM on July 9, 2013 [9 favorites]


Do you drive a vehicle that uses an internal combustion engine?

it's not a zero sum game.


which is my point. you feel compelled to NOT go see Ender's Game. I haven't owned a car since 1991 (the first Gulf War). We're all doing as we see fit.

I happen to feel that quality cultural product is worth paying for. That its creator happens to wear his ugliness on his sleeve is a factor for me. But it's not the factor. Are you up on everything that sends money to the Coors brothers?
posted by philip-random at 6:22 PM on July 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


It's not a contest. It's not a... game.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 6:24 PM on July 9, 2013 [3 favorites]


A friend recommended Ender's Game to me when, gosh, I was in middle school or something. He really loved it. Me, not so much. I thought the idea of "child genius" was a pretty stupid premise even then - pandering empowerment to adolescent readers, which I found patronizing. Rowling gets away with it in Harry Potter, because, well, she's just a much more charming writer. I've always wondered why all the hoopla about the book. There's a lot of much better science fiction out there.
posted by Xoebe at 6:24 PM on July 9, 2013 [7 favorites]




Lemme see. Assuming a 15 dollar ticket, by way of Hollywood accounting. Maybe 17 cents will end up in Mr. Card's bank account (and that's probably being generous). I can suffer the guilt.

Successful holiday blockbusters earn over $2billion, which means that your guilt would assuage $34million worth of potential hate group funding, and we haven't even got to home video sales.

I happen to feel that quality cultural product is worth paying for. That its creator happens to wear his ugliness on his sleeve is a factor for me. But it's not the factor. Are you up on everything that sends money to the Coors brothers?

Ah, I see. "Quality cultural product" overrides basic civil rights, which are apparently just "ugliness" that can be disregarded. Totally makes sense.
posted by zombieflanders at 6:29 PM on July 9, 2013 [3 favorites]


What does shitty beer have to do with OSC though
posted by elizardbits at 6:30 PM on July 9, 2013 [3 favorites]


If the movie is a success because enough people go […]

This is also, incidentally, why you shouldn't watch it on Netflix either.
posted by smidgen at 6:30 PM on July 9, 2013


What does shitty beer have to do with OSC though

Hitler
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 6:31 PM on July 9, 2013 [9 favorites]


windykites wrote: Dickens was insanely anti-Semitic. Comes out quite loudly in his books.

No; he was as bigoted as most people of his time and he resorted to lazy stereotypes, such as his character Fagin. But Dickens' change of heart on this issue is actually rather famous:
In 1863 a Jewish acquaintance, Eliza Davis, wrote Dickens a letter complaining of the Oliver Twist character, Fagin, as "a great wrong" to the Jewish people. He replied that he had not meant any disrespect towards Judaism, but only meant to give his character a nationality. He made amends in Our Mutual Friend when he turned the stereotype upside down. The sympathetically drawn Mr. Riah is forced to front for a Christian moneylender, and a generous community of Jews shelters the heroine, Lizzie Hexam. Riah reflects, "[People] take the worst of us as samples of the best . . . and they say 'All Jews are alike.'" Mrs. Davis gave Dickens a Hebrew and English Bible inscribed, "Presented to Charles Dickens, in grateful and admiring recognition of his having exercised the noblest quality men can possess-that of atoning for an injury as soon as conscious of having inflicted it."
posted by Joe in Australia at 6:31 PM on July 9, 2013 [103 favorites]


nonasuch has solved this entire thread. His answer is elegant in its simplicity.
posted by Apocryphon at 6:32 PM on July 9, 2013


that was my first assumption tbh because adolph
posted by elizardbits at 6:32 PM on July 9, 2013


I've never driven a car. I got a lot of karma to trade. Can I eat a bald eagle or something?
posted by Ad hominem at 6:35 PM on July 9, 2013 [9 favorites]


Worth a repost, I think: Ender's Game as Porn
posted by en forme de poire at 6:35 PM on July 9, 2013 [6 favorites]


Joe in Australia- that's so awesome! Thank you! When I read him (I believe "A Christmas Carol") for the first time, I was struck by how virulently Anti-Semitic he seemed; it's really nice to know that, like so many other writers, he was just a product of his era. I'll relish his work even more now.
posted by windykites at 6:35 PM on July 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


*invites Ad hominem to dinner
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 6:36 PM on July 9, 2013


Mmmmm
posted by smidgen at 6:37 PM on July 9, 2013


Tastes like freedom chicken.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 6:38 PM on July 9, 2013


My first instinct is fried. But I have to plan this out. I don't want to waste my one eagle. Eagleducken is too pedestrian. Perhaps I'll have an eagle press commissioned along the lines of a duck press.

Time to research. I know I'm going to have to have eagle tongue in aspic.
posted by Ad hominem at 6:42 PM on July 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


For a brief, hopeful second I read this post as if it were saying that Orson Scott Card himself was boycotting the "Ender's Game" film and I was just about to rush the theater. Now I reread the post and I am disappointed.
posted by Skwirl at 6:51 PM on July 9, 2013


A peevish type with a VPN account might decide, hypothetically, that the thing to do would be to count the number of posts in this thread arguing in favor of paying to see the movie, then seed it for an extra day for each such post.

By Hollywood Math, that'll cost them more money than will ever exist throughout time, summed across every possible universe.
posted by sourcequench at 6:53 PM on July 9, 2013 [3 favorites]


What does shitty beer have to do with OSC though

Hitler


More or less.

The Coors bros are definitely up to nasty stuff and like many a mega-rich capitalist have their tentacles in all manner of pies. Do you care as much about this as you do about OSC? By which I mean, go ahead and tear into me for NOT immediately getting behind the Ender's Game boycott. But I reserve the right to be skeptical of your consumption purity in all matters.
posted by philip-random at 6:54 PM on July 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


I haven't given Coors a dime since the 80s sometime. Is that pure enough?
posted by rtha at 6:57 PM on July 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


nonasuch has solved this entire thread.

elizardbits shot first
posted by hat_eater at 6:58 PM on July 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


Thoughtcrime!!!! Doubleplusungood.
posted by TSOL at 7:00 PM on July 9, 2013


You know, I've always thought Ender's Game would make a fantastic 80s movie. Now that they have proper special effects and fewer bowl haircuts, I'm no longer interested.
posted by maryr at 7:02 PM on July 9, 2013 [8 favorites]


It's almost inevitable that throughout the course of our daily lives we give a lot more than a producers' cut of a movie ticket to those who oppress us; the ubiquity of the system ensures that. So while it's very simple to point to Ender's Game and OSC and insist in voices raised in righteous anger upon the moral impermissibility of paying to attend the film, it's at least a little bit disingenuous to do so, given the vile coffers into which pours the money we spend on gas, or groceries, or goods transported by trucks whose gas your purchase funds, or baked goods made with sugar whose refinement is conducted under borderline inhuman conditions, or—[...]

If we're really going to glibly judge the morality of consumer behavior by this rubric, castigating our friends and peers for oppression a fraction of their movie dollar might potentially support simply because it happens to be more visible than the frankly way worse shit we all pay for with our consumer spending and (let's be honest) taxes, well.

None of our hands are clean until all of our hands are clean, and we are not each others' enemies.
posted by Sokka shot first at 7:03 PM on July 9, 2013 [7 favorites]


Ender's Game is the most overrated hack piece of trash ever. Don't believe me? Crack open your copy and reread the first page. You know the one--with that "mastermind" nonsense. It's a trite, tripe book that's only popular because it callously manipulates the emotions of young, gifted children. Orson Scott Card is a terrible writer and a terrible person and either one of these is more than sufficient motivation NOT to see this movie.
posted by kjh at 7:07 PM on July 9, 2013 [8 favorites]


Thanks to that wonderful AVClub article, I eagerly anticipate the porn parodies Rear Ender's Game and Speaker for the Head.
posted by meehawl at 7:09 PM on July 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


oh also I forgot to mention the best form of Ender's Game protest of all

write LOTS OF HOMOEROTIC FANFIC ABOUT IT AND PUT IT ON THE INTERNET

c'mon it's about a military academy with a bunch of brainy, stressed weirdos tryin to get in each others heads

there'd be like

so much freaky adolescent hatesex

so much
posted by Sokka shot first at 7:13 PM on July 9, 2013 [18 favorites]


I really liked Ender's Game and the entire quartet. I also was quite impressed with Ender's Shadow as it fit very well into some of the main themes of the series, seeing things from multiple angles, working to understand those that seem like your foes and above all empathy. It was all so humanist.

It was really disappointing to start to hear things about his views and then see it worked into plot points of the Shadow series (and from the talk above, it sounds like he used the 'lifelong homosexual settling down in an opposite marriage because it is what is natural and right' bit in other books) because none of it fit with the humanist, deeply moral themes of the earlier books.

I am kind of torn now but OSC is making it difficult for me. For one if he really thinks gay marriage is a decided issue now he could at least say he's going to stop funding anti-gay groups.

Though I am probably going to end up not seeing the movie in the theaters because lazy. And distracted. And there are so many other things out there.
posted by mountmccabe at 7:26 PM on July 9, 2013


I know many people inside the Mormon Church who hate Orson Scott Card for the exact opposite reasons-- that he is "too soft" on gay rights, that he has had the temerity to writte gay characters into his fiction. To those people, OSC is a flaming liberal who is dragging us all down to hell with his evil novels. You guys in this thread even use a lot of the same words that the ultra-Mormons do to describe him. I just feel sorry for the guy-- getting it from both ends (hello double entendre!).

TEACH THE CONTROVERSY
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 7:29 PM on July 9, 2013 [9 favorites]


Folks who don't have time to read Songmaster in its entirety should go ahead and read the violent gay sex sequence, which has been screencapped and posted online (it's a bit confusing but the pages are in reverse order so start with the one at the bottom).

I don't think it's unreasonable to wonder what that image of a young boy repeatedly smashing his head against a wall while in the agonizing throes of the "exquisite pain" of orgasm with an older male might have to do with Card's later spittle-flecked rants against lgbt citizens. Even if you're not into that kind of psychoanalyzing, the sequence in Songmaster is an interesting piece of the Orson Scott Card vs. lgbt citizens story - one folks should know about as they debate this stuff.

prefpara summarized the argument that Card's homophobia comes from a deeply conflicted place in a comment in the 2011 Hamlet adaptation thread:

I think I've said this in previous OSC threads, but I realized OSC was gay when I read Songmaster. I was thirteen or so. It wasn't subtle. The protagonist, a beautiful young boy named Ansset, has this wonderful man friend and the man friend is in love with Ansset so this one time, the man seduces Ansset into having sex with him. Ansset is like "OK, I'm an innocent child so I'm happy to go along with this sex because I don't know that it's wrong. Hey, I am sure enjoying all the male-male sex you and I are having, much older man. Uh oh, suddenly I feel intense physical pain because I've been given a sci-fi drug that makes it so that sexual pleasure in my body will always be accompanied by EXTREME PAIN. Ooops, you're misinterpreting my cries of extreme pain as expressions of sexual pleasure! Luckily here come the future police to stop all the sex we're having and put you in jail. Sadly, the pain I felt was so extreme that I am now brain-damaged and permanently impotent."

It did not take a lot of sophistication for me to combine that with the subtext in the other OSC books I'd read and go YUP THIS MAN IS TEH GAY. I realize authors use their imagination and don't just thinly veil autobiographical events, but the weight of the evidence (to my mind) leans to OSC = GAY + MOLESTATION. And that is very sad. And of course does not change the fact that he's fucking horrible.

I actually think there's a nontrivial possibility that if the Ansset story really is OSC telling his own molestation story, then he may not be gay, just incapable of enjoying sex because he never dealt with the molestation.

posted by mediareport at 7:32 PM on July 9, 2013 [8 favorites]


prefpara summarized the argument

Actually, I shouldn't call it an argument; it's a suggestion, and a pointing to what appears to be a familiar pattern, which (along with the particularly virulent rhetoric he aims at lgbt people and their supporters) leads some to draw the conclusion that Card's homophobia comes from a deeply conflicted place.
posted by mediareport at 7:41 PM on July 9, 2013


"Homophobia itself is not necessarily a moral act, at least when its not aped as a learned thing, and there isn't necessarily anything wrong with it exactly. "

No, disgust is both a surmountable emotion and one with moral implications, and that's the "gay sex is icky" moment in total. So, it's hating the other and justifying it with disgust instead of getting over the disgust. That many people struggle with it — even including gay people — doesn't mean there's nothing inherently wrong with it. It's like saying that there's nothing inherently wrong with being a moron, because some morons can be nice people and hey, haven't we all done something dumb?
posted by klangklangston at 7:52 PM on July 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


You know who else was a promising artist before they became a hate filled bigot..

No, Hitler was a terrible artist. His early watercolors were very poorly composed, with little sense of color or proportion...

...oh you meant Thomas Kinkade- yes, totally fair.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 8:22 PM on July 9, 2013 [12 favorites]


kjh: "Ender's Game is the most overrated hack piece of trash ever. "

Ah, well THAT'S resolved, then.
posted by Chrysostom at 8:37 PM on July 9, 2013 [3 favorites]


Well, at least when Thomas Kinkade bigots, he bigots with light.
posted by Ice Cream Socialist at 8:37 PM on July 9, 2013 [15 favorites]


I read Enders Game. I liked the book. I didn't see an anti-gay theme in it. Will an anti-gay theme be inserted into the movie?

I'll go see the movie, then make up my mind.

I'm not ready to judge all art by the artist. I guess I might think about a comedian--let's say, Dennis Miller--this way, because, because of the nature of his bits. I would apply that same notion to Jon Stewart or Robin Williams. I would buy a ticket to see the last two perform, but not the first. I thought John Wayne's politics were about polemic to my own, but I loved his movies. I didn't delve into his feelings about gay people, and it never occurred to me to do so. I feel the same way about Clint Eastwood and Mel Gibson.

Anyhow, haters hate. Good luck with sorting all that out.
posted by mule98J at 8:45 PM on July 9, 2013


I read a book of short stories by Orson Scott Card that made a big impression on me because Every Single Thing in that book could only have been written by a survivor of child sexual abuse. There was even a story in which a child abuser is literally haunted by deformed child monsters. The way of thinking that comes from child sexual abuse just shone through on every page. The same themes are there in his other books, for example I read Ender's Game as an attempt to turn the psychological response to abuse into something heroic. It seems to me that his bigotry may be a way of dealing with that history.

I would like to add explicitly that I am not trying to excuse his prejudice and I see no reason to give him money. But if you want to see how to turn the experience of child sexual abuse into science fiction, go read those short stories.
posted by medusa at 8:45 PM on July 9, 2013 [3 favorites]


Being a moron is not inherently bad. People have little or no control over their level of intelligence.
posted by windykites at 8:52 PM on July 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


maryr: "Ender may be a sincere abused innocent, but he still commits acts of unquestionable violence. In the right conditions, he becomes a psychopath."

At the blog Something Short and Snappy, Will Wildman is doing a deconstruction of Ender's Game (up to chapter 7 at this point; first post here). His analysis most definitely supports this interpretation.
posted by Lexica at 9:03 PM on July 9, 2013 [3 favorites]


OSC lives in Greensboro, NC ... and so do I! And for the last 15 years (as long as I've lived here), he's had a regular column in the weekly Right Wing Rag -- which, OMG, just went out of business take THAT right-wing asshats -- where was I?

Oh yeah, so he's been writing this column about once per week for the last 15 years; often and often he has taken this opportunity to clarify just how much he thinks teh gay is unnatural! [As far as I can tell, he's a "natural law"-motivated asshat, not a religiously-motivated asshat, although there is some overlap in the groups. His position is completely untenable. He doesn't care.]

So, he doesn't just have bigoted and hateful and harmful beliefs, he loves trotting them out and, to the extent possible, sprucing them up. As has been noted, he uses some of his money to fund hate groups. I think choosing not to support him or his work makes perfect sense, as does encouraging others to make similar choices. Do I boycott all the folks who may have objectionable tendencies or beliefs? Of course not, especially not the dead ones. Too many of us live in glass houses.

But this guy has had many, many opportunities to re-think his hate, or at least to shut up, and refuses to do so. (He's just a tiny bit full of himself; I know you are shocked. He has a vanity license plate that includes the word "Ender", so, there's that.)

Um, I'm a vegan, and I drive a Prius, when I'm not commuting by bicycle, in case my creds matter.
posted by allthinky at 9:08 PM on July 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


The most frustrating thing about OSC being an unremitting horrible homophobe who advocates the overthrow of pro-homosexuality governments is the fact that people who dislike Ender's Game or anything else by OSC use his general political shittiness to go, "Oh lol this proves that this book I disliked was actually objectively awful! And also Hitler!" Which muddies the whole critical literary debate that I totally love having about Ender's Game and which also makes OSC apologia feel extra skin-crawly.

OH WAIT NO THAT'S NOT THE WORST PART. The worst part was where Orson Scott Card's fucked up beliefs contributed to the moral and financial reinforcements of horrible worldviews that are specifically out to make other people as miserable as possible. THAT TOTALLY FRIGGING SUCKS.

...buuuuut, it's also way less fun to talk about than Ender's Game's literary merit, a part of which has to do with OSC's once-upon-a-time ability to not sound like a raving lunatic nutjob. And it also obscures a really important point here, which is: somebody can be brilliant at what they do and still totally terrible as a person, and it turns out that no, artistic merit does NOT excuse personal shittiness. Roman Polanski is one of the greatest directors alive, but I find the thought of paying to see one of his movies kind of revulsive, because the dude's a child rapist. OSC isn't quite Polanski but then the Ender's Game movie isn't gonna be fucking Chinatown either, so I find this boycott perfectly awesome!

Oh and fuck Cory Doctorow, who isn't a twentieth of the SF writer Card is.

Everything out of the way? Good. Let's talk about how terrific Ender's Game is, and how underrated its first few sequels are.

First things first, it has to be acknowledged that Orson Scott Card has a rare kind of double-barreled literary talent. He is a damned potent horror writer, which people generally miss because his genre horror work was largely confined to short stories from before his megasuccesses. He has this way of sort of casually describing horrific events as if they just happen to logically follow way less horrible events that reminds me of Stephen King's better moments. A lot of this comes through in Ender's Game, and I find that a lot of the criticism of Game is really just people who lack a stomach for horror trying to express their displeasure at what a gory little book it is, without quite being able to finger that they've picked up a horror story by mistake. And Ender's Game is particularly effective as a horror story because of how the violence seems to happen around the edges. Ender kills a kid in a visceral moment of "self-defense", perceived or otherwise, and you're only told that the kid died in the off-stage adult comments that don't even seem that concerned with the murder. Ender's not even aware of what he's done, except far this vague sense that he's gone too far.

A story in which a preteen boy kills two kids and the adults supposedly "in charge" decide not to tell him because his ignorance serves their purpose? Yum. There's some skin-crawlies for you.

But Card's other talent is that he is legitimately, no-trolling-intended, a superb writer of religious fiction. It's one of those things that makes his horrible screeds all the worse for their horribly un-subtle thinking. It's also baffling in that when Card's not explicitly writing religious fiction, all that subtlety kind of falls by the wayside. The Bean quartet (a written-later companion to the Ender series) has dialogues about religion and religious faith which are just appallingly flat, for seemingly no other reason than that Card cares more about the geopolitical conflict and the religious shit's just thrown in as a B story. (Card has never been good at geopolitical conflict, because he's way too enthusiastic about it. He's like a giddy hobbyist, which is fun reading but also not great literature.) Another of his books, Enchantment – a personal favorite of mine – is nearly derailed halfway through because Card decides to write from the perspective of a "feminist" character who is Pure Evil Because This Is Not What God Wants Us To Do, and saved only because the interlude is a) brief and b) unintentionally hilarious.

But when Card sits down and goes, "Okay, I'm going to think about religious faith," then what he turns out is almost always provocative, insightful, and exciting in the way it plays with the possibilities of bad faith and spiritual corruption and people's beliefs making them do unintentionally monstrous things. As a young atheist, I loved the hell out of Card's religious fiction, because it depicted the benefits of faith only among a backdrop of religious hypocrisy and ignorance and torment, and I liked seeing a religious person admit, "Okay, there's a whole lot of shit that happens in the name of faith that I am NOT okay with." And Card targets a wide variety of religious icons, too, from biblical literalists to corporate preachers to the evangelical Bible Belt that's convinced there's only one possible road to the truth.

Again, the fact that his other work is so ponderously flat kind of baffles me to this day. Because both in his fiction and his writings about religion in fiction, Orson Scott Card has a tremendous ability to acknowledge the purpose of faith, the secular underpinnings which give faith value, and the multi-dimensionality of spiritual pursuits in the modern world. He can write poignantly, when he chooses to do so, about the struggles of finding purpose in people, rather than in folklore, and about the dangerous temptations of ignoring reality for the sake of what you've been told you can believe. If anybody's interested I can post excerpts from his writings on religion from Maps in a Mirror, because contrasted with what he's written since they come off as genuinely what-the-fuck.

(My theory is that Card is a very bright man who has found it incredibly hard to shake off certain beliefs he grew up with, and who over the years developed a twisted "scientific logic" to explain why he still believes what he believes. And the more reality defies his "theories", the more he becomes convinced that there is in fact something horribly wrong with whoever's saying that he's wrong, and over the years this has evolved into a full-blown conspiracy nutjobia. I think it was Jon Ronson who said that insanity isn't a lack of logic, it's an insistence on TOO MUCH logic, even at the expense of reality. In any event, watching his evo/devolution has been really damn sad.)

Anyway! Ender's Game, and its sequel Speaker for the Dead, are really the apex of Orson Scott Card's work, on both the horror and the spiritual fronts. It's worth pointing out that Card only wrote the novelization of Ender's Game as an excuse to get to Speaker; in the original Ender's Game, there's no murdering of children, the plot is severely less creepy, and the emphasis is really on the burden of somebody who commits an atrocity without fully understanding their own actions. It's less Hitler apologia than it is a look at what debt a person owes the world around them even when they don't know what they've wrought; the conclusion is pretty explicitly that Ender has done something horrible, and that he will never be able to escape that horrible action. It's a story of existentialist dread, really, and you can quite easily extrapolate, from the themes of that story, an argument that whether or not you realize homophobia is completely shitty, you are nonetheless responsible for the damage it causes if you perpetuate its evils with complete innocence. (And unlike with, say, the writings of Ayn Rand, Card intended you to come to that conclusion! The dude was freakishly liberal in that regard.)

The way Card tells it, he had the idea for Speaker, in which humankind encounters an alien species that violently murders and dismembers several people, yet is seemingly unaware of the wrongness of its actions. He was fascinated with that theme of disconnect – we can talk to these aliens, but can we understand them? – and struggled with finding a central character who could lend insight into this conflict until he realized that Ender Wiggin, his former child genocide, fit almost perfectly into this world he'd been slowly devising. So he went back and expanded upon Ender's Game basically as a way to set the stage for the novel he actually wanted to write.

And his technique for doing so was really quite superb. Post-publication his technique of sticking closely to inside one character's head while providing excerpts of conversation between unknown figures has become kind of a cliche; by the end of the Bean quartet the "external" conversations were completely mawkish and unnecessary. But as a way of starting off a novel, it's wonderfully creepy. You hear people assessing Ender, analyzing him, deciding to "take him", before you meet Ender at all, and you're not even told who these people talking are. Right from the start there's a disconnect between the world Ender knows and the world he grew up in, where he was literally requisitioned to be a military prodigy and wouldn't be alive without military consent. And then you get into Ender's head, where he's already learned to mistrust adults (even nurses!) and not believe the people who claim to be looking out for him and then he goes into the playground and kills the shit out of a six-year-old boy. SO. CREEPY. Not in the least because Ender is as freaked out about his own behavior as a decent human being ought to be.

Lots of people hate upon the wish-fulfillment aspect of the whole Ender being a genius thing, and I get where they're coming from, but one of the key parts of that book is how Ender is only bright within the realm of what he's been permitted to know. He's not miserable because he's smart boo-hoo nobody likes him they're all jealous of him; he's miserable because the people in charge of him deliberately instigate people into hating him, by elevating him to a status far beyond what any kid wants to have thrust upon him. It's a critique of exceptionalism, not a celebration of it: though we see his sister's bored with school later on, we're also shown that she's got a way easier life for not being held under the microscope. Ender's being paraded about as a genius is a manipulative technique that's intended to make him hate himself, to encourage his ability to hurt other people.

That emphasis on loneliness and misery is amplified considerably from the original novella, which touches upon those themes but is more concerned with the innocence bit than anything. And it's amplified to emphasize, in part, the horror of Ender's choice in the "game" that he plays. He isn't intentionally slaughtering a species, virtual or otherwise – he's choosing not to play. Specifically looking at the world around him and saying, "Fuck it, I quit." Which is an antisocial, possibly even sociopathic, choice for him to make; if Ender made the same choice in World of Warcraft we'd call him a griefer. This is not "hero saves the day", it's "kid opts out". And in choosing to quit, Ender unintentionally causes unspeakable harm.

This is where Card's talents for horror and religion come together brilliantly. The horror is that, considering the miserable life Ender's lived, it makes perfect sense for him to make the choice that he does – which doesn't prevent the damage that choice causes. It's that realization that he's committed a crime of a magnitude beyond any in history, that while he committed it without quite understanding it was real, he still decided that in that given scenario it's what he wanted to do. He decides to kill eighty people and a quadrillion sentient beings, because it's not real, but in this case it turns out he wasn't a perfect judge of reality. And now he is a war criminal for the rest of eternity.

That he was manipulated into making that choice, set up by people who wanted to achieve a different result, is secondary, in Card's mind, from the horror that ultimately he was the agent of choice there. That Ender's prodigy was what allowed him to do what the people who reared him could not; that his gifts were what enabled such monstrosity. Yet there's also this stone-cold acknowledgment that Ender didn't have enough information, that other people deliberately withheld understanding from him in order to make him do what they wanted. And I feel that's still a shockingly left-wing critique. When I read about the drug wars and class conflict and people being manipulated into voting against their own interests, I feel the same quiet horror that I did when I first read Ender's Game.

(I don't know if this is worth anything, but OSC was an outspoken supporter of Jimmy Carter back in the era where he first wrote Ender's Game. I'm too young to know much about Carter's politics, but it's interesting nonetheless.)

The novella ends on that note of self-betrayal and horror, finishing with a really touching scene where Colonel Graff and Major Anderson are talking in a park, and see two kids play-shooting each other, yelling about rules and who's dead and who had how many bullets, and Graff just quietly says, "Kids." But in the novel, this whole sequence of events has been setting the stage, introducing a child foil to the grown Ender Wiggin of Speaker for the Dead, who now is wise enough to know something of the way his actions affect others, and who therefore has the insight to realize that while this new alien species might be torturing and murdering the people who study them, they are too foreign for us to effectively judge them for their actions. Because who better knows the accidental violence of the innocent than Ender the Xenocide?

(It's also worth pointing out that Card has written other stories/books about intolerance towards indigenous cultures and tribes, including about how America's founding involved an astonishingly genocidal bloodbath. His book Pastwatch is a time-travel novel that concerns attempting to stop Columbus from raping and exploiting everybody he came across, which is a sort of facetious concept but is also fun as hell while doing a good job of exposing how fucked-up Columbus was.)

I think that as visceral and horrific as Ender's Game is, Speaker is Card's best book by a long mile, because it tries to do a lot of things and gets it all pretty much right. It's a mystery, a family novel, a book about faith (and religious intolerance), a really neat sci-fi world, and it ties all of this into Card's interest with personal and communal responsibility – the question of how responsible are we, exactly, for our own behaviors? And the answer is kept wonderfully ambiguous, neither exonerating nor condemning any of its characters, but still pointing out that at all times, whatever reason you have for acting as you do, once you've acted your motive doesn't matter. With a quiet hope that being aware of this responsibility might be enough to get people to think before making a final decision.

People hate on the two books after that, Xenocide and Children of the Mind, because each book gets more abstract than the last and it becomes apparent that Card cares more about the moral questions each book asked than he does about the plot/scientific justifications that allow him to ask those questions. But if you're interested in that kind of character-driven moral reasoning, and I eat that shit up, then Card takes his story to really cool places, ending with an attempt to articulate the nature of consciousness by way of a computer network that finally becomes complex enough to acknowledge itself, then kind of gets biologically connected to a series of trees okay this sounds really stupid, and it sort of is, but it leads to a passage describing this new sentience becoming aware of its own biological impulses and neurological synapses that is actually a pretty beautiful description of enlightenment, in the Buddhist/Zen sense. Any story that builds to something like that is pretty awesome in my book. And meanwhile there's this thing where Ender's siblings are kind of reincarnated, but only as Ender recalls them, with the sister being unfairly altruistic and the brother being unfairly selfish, and the question of "how much are my choices dependent on the people who shaped me?" becomes literal in a fun way (SPACESHIPS! SEX-HAVING!) and that's not even getting into the cool virus stuff.

It all ends with Ender's funeral, moving through the various people who were shaped by Ender's life – his children, both adopted and "created", his sister, his wife, his student – and looking at what he ended up leaving behind. There's this profound sense of sadness, of a life growing and growing and finally ceasing (there's a moment where his older sister thinks to herself about the sounds Ender made as a baby, these little innocent moments that nobody but she remembers, that makes me tear up), but also this realization that his life meant something, to the next generation at least, and hey, maybe an alien civilization will murder us all and it will all collapse to nothingness, but even then all of humankind will have been like one life lived, flawed but not unsalvageable. It's a pretty great ending, in short, to a series that had two astonishingly excellent novels and two books that have a hell of a lot of value to them. And while the Bean quartet is only about a fraction as good, it's still a neat counterpart in that it posits a child who is even smarter than Ender, so much so that he picks up on the aspects of the world which Ender lacked, and uses that to ask questions about what such a godlike omniscience would lead a person to become. It's also very fun, so there's that.

But the most remarkable thing, reading through the Ender quartet in 2013, is the parts where Orson Scott Card's religious nuttery does leak through. It doesn't happen very often – more in the last two books than in the first two, because you can't talk abstract philosophy without revealing parts of your own worldview – but when it does, there's this unnerving feeling that Card is........ humble. Like, that he's aware of his own shortcomings, his own ignorances, that everything he's saying might be completely wrong and that you shouldn't trust him to know exactly what he's talking about. You get to something where he spouts some shit like "marriage is the best proven way for a society to keep itself together", paraphrased, and there's a flip side to it that's like "...but I could be wrong about it, and even if I'm right then what's the point to optimization if it makes people unhappy? we should all try to make each other happy and love each other no matter what" and it kind of makes you freak the fuck out. It is SO WEIRD to see Card write things like that, because now whatever's happened to him has affected him so thoroughly that he won't even let himself espouse that kind of worldview in his new fiction. (The Bean quartet has so much fucked-up shit in it that I don't even know where to begin. The gay scientist who realizes that he still loves women? Petra deciding that it's her moral duty to marry and seduce Bean so she can bear his children and keep him connected to the world? Petra marrying Ender's brother [!!!] out of the goddamn blue? It's gloriously demented, but for the fact that once upon a time OSC was better than that.)

It's a troublesome decline, and I genuinely hope that after Card dies and this whole people being stupid about gay people thing stops happening, we can go back to acknowledging that the Ender quartet is one of the best pieces of science fiction ever, up there with the earlier Dune books and possibly better than the Foundation trilogy (and I say that as a huuuge Asimov fan). As far as science fiction that's also great literary fiction goes, I think it's one of the greats, those first two books especially. And every time I go back to reread it I expect I'll find my past self was wrong, the books are actually cheaper and more flawed than I remember, but no – if anything, I appreciate more and more just how well-written they really are. Ender's Game is still one of those books that I hope every kid is lucky enough to read.

But with all that said, I think that respecting Orson Scott Card's accomplishment with Ender's Game makes it easier to support this boycott of the movie.

First off, because the goddamn book is goddamn about accepting responsibility for our actions, or at least acknowledging that our behaviors may unintentionally hurt other people, and if Card feels bad that people are responding to his shitty behavior maybe he should reread his own fucking book.

And second off, because there's about a zero percent chance that a movie made in 2013, starring a bunch of actual children, is going to capture anything of what made the books so good. It's all going to be actiony bullshit with a scene towards the end where they play the sad fanfare music, probably by Hans Zimmer, to indicate that we should feel a little bit bad about all the cool actiony things. Like The Dark Knight but with even more stupid. This is a movie that would take way more subtlety to pull off than a blockbuster film is gonna get, and unless it was directed by somebody like Martin Scorcese and starred kids as talented as, say, 13-year-old Jodie Foster, you won't get anything worth $13 or your time.

(A somewhat facetious third off is that Valentine Wiggin is played by somebody other than Kiernan Shipka, which, whaaat)

So yes. In summary, you are allowed to judge people who are very very good at what they do, and you are especially allowed to do this when there's this big fat uncanny feeling that this person's past self would have been all for boycotting his present self's ass. And even if there wasn't that weirdness, the fact remains that homophobia is fucking awful and Card is a douchecanoe. The end! Read Speaker for the Dead! Hoo-ah!
posted by Rory Marinich at 9:12 PM on July 9, 2013 [112 favorites]


Eyebrows McGee: "If there's one thing Ender's Game taught me, it's that the BEST time to attack your enemies is when they're "down."

OSC certainly did it for years. I quit giving this buffoon money years ago.
"

Some people always forget Battle School. The GATE is always down.
posted by Samizdata at 9:12 PM on July 9, 2013


And on preview:

I read Ender's Game as an attempt to turn the psychological response to abuse into something heroic.

Oh yes, that's definitely there. I think there's more to it than that, but Ender is tortured by adults who tell him repeatedly how much they love him and need him.
posted by Rory Marinich at 9:14 PM on July 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


After I read the man-on-boy excerpt from Songmaster posted above... I have a hard time believing that rational argument about the self-worth of gay men and women is really important in this case. Card doesn't seem ignorant about homosexuality to me; he seems very conflicted, and his horribly cruel politics appear to be his way of resolving this psychological conflict. I know this is silly psychobabble to some extent, but Jesus, there really seems to be a lot more going on with this guy than hateful bigotry.
posted by leopard at 9:18 PM on July 9, 2013


One of these days I gotta figure out how to do this torrent thing for movies. Haven't done it since the two big sites got closed down but it appears that it will be mandatory for this one. At this point I don't even want to see it on my perfectly legal HBO subscription.
posted by Ber at 9:20 PM on July 9, 2013


It's Raining Florence Henderson: "I'd just like to congratulate IRFH for his forward thinking and modesty."

And I would like to thank IRFH for accepting my award and thinking (rightly) that I would be too modest and forward thinking to accept such an honor.
posted by Samizdata at 9:37 PM on July 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


Some people always forget Battle School. The GATE is always down.

Actually, I think Eyebrows is right here: Ender defeats the bully Stilson who attacks him in the shower and then keeps on beating him after the boy is defeated ("I have to win this now, and for all time, or I'll fight it every day and it will get worse and worse."). He literally kicks his enemy when he's down and ends up killing him.
posted by longdaysjourney at 9:37 PM on July 9, 2013


If you want to read the Bonzo fight scene literally, the moral is that the best way to defeat a man is to approach him naked and with your body covered in hot soap.
posted by Rory Marinich at 9:42 PM on July 9, 2013 [7 favorites]


Wow, I totally forgot that there are not one, but two shower attacks scenes in this book. Huh.
posted by longdaysjourney at 9:45 PM on July 9, 2013


we can go back to acknowledging that the Ender quartet is one of the best pieces of science fiction ever, up there with the earlier Dune books


If this happens I hope I am well dead because a world in which this sentence is true is a world that makes no sense to me at all.
posted by winna at 9:49 PM on July 9, 2013 [6 favorites]


I think it was Jon Ronson who said that insanity isn't a lack of logic, it's an insistence on TOO MUCH logic, even at the expense of reality. In any event, watching his evo/devolution has been really damn sad.

There's a similar thought in Nabokov's lectures:
Commonsense will interrupt me at this point to remark that a further intensification of such fancies may lead to stark madness. But this is only true when the morbid exaggeration of such fancies is not linked up with a creative artist's cool and deliberate work. A madman is reluctant to look at himself in a mirror because the face he sees is not his own: his personality is beheaded; that of the artist is increased. Madness is but a diseased bit of commonsense, whereas genius is the greatest sanity of the spirit - and the criminologist Lombroso when attempting to find their affinities got into a bad muddle by not realizing the anatomic differences between obsession and inspiration, between a bat and a bird, a dead twig and a twiglike insect.
The full thought is too long and tangential to quote in full.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 9:53 PM on July 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


Ender's Gay-Me

OSC used to be one of my buy on sight authors. But over time I found him to be wildly inconsistent. I think I like his short fiction, particularly the horror stuff most. He's clearly a religious nut and deeply deeply conflicted about some things.

I liked EG and some of the sequels, but I think I wouldn't see the movie. It's no real sacrifice to me, I don't watch many. But I just don't get the "watching it doesn't pay him so it's okay". If the movie does very well, there is a great likelyhood that he will sell more rights to make movies from his works and these will go for a higher price. Boycotting EG could certainly affect his bottom line. It's silly to argue that a successful EG movie doesn't benefit OSC. It's as specious an argument as OSC's arguments against homosexual rights or as specious as arguing that OSC shouldn't be called out as a homophobe because he is attacked as not enough of a homophobe by some.

I think there is a real difference between OSC and someone like Dan Simmons. The attacks on 9/11 were real. Overreacting and blaming more than the involved is wrong, but there was a real thing there. The anti gay rights people who argue that gay rights will cause harm are harming real people based on nothing at all.
posted by jclarkin at 10:15 PM on July 9, 2013


Rustic E --

It doesn't have to be logic at all. There's a thing with (some?) Mormons where they believe that things they think really hard about must be true because they've looked into themselves and saw it as true. IE, objective truth can be found by a type of internal conversation or meditation. So it doesn't have to be logic. If you believe something strongly enough it must be true!
posted by jclarkin at 10:21 PM on July 9, 2013


we can go back to acknowledging that the Ender quartet is one of the best pieces of science fiction ever, up there with the earlier Dune books

I'm inclined to let that slide, but it makes me kinda sad because it implies you've never read Alfred Bester, Roger Zelazny, Gene Wolfe, Robert Sheckley, Frederick Pohl, John Brunner, William Gibson, Jack Vance, Fritz Leiber, Samuel Delany, RA Lafferty, James Tiptree, Michael Swanwick, Ursula LeGuin, Hal Duncan, John Varley, Michael Moorcock, Mick Farren, JG Ballard, Octavia Butler, Phillip K Dick, Norman Spinrad, or Robert Silverberg even... plus a score of others who don't immediately leap to mind.

It's not too late though...
posted by hap_hazard at 10:36 PM on July 9, 2013 [17 favorites]


Dang, or Theodore Sturgeon, or Ray Bradbury or Jonathan Lethem or to some extent, mitigated by his crazy-extreme attitudes on intellectual property, KW Jeter.

Sorry, it's been a long time since I read all the science fiction, but I'm sure someone else could give you a list this long just from the last couple of decades.
posted by hap_hazard at 10:40 PM on July 9, 2013 [6 favorites]


Rory Marinich is truly the Speaker for the Dead: the dead being Orson Scott Card's career and public legitimacy, that is.
posted by Apocryphon at 10:48 PM on July 9, 2013 [4 favorites]


Rory, I'd love to hear your response to that John Kessel article I linked above.

I'm not surprised that an atheist would find Card's writing about religion insightful. As a religious believer, I was initially attracted to his uncommonly sympathetic (for a sci-fi author) portrayal of religious characters, but the more I read, the more I found his approach ultimately trivializing of and condescending toward the beliefs of his religious characters.
posted by straight at 11:12 PM on July 9, 2013


(Huh, I had the impression that Rory is not an atheist [now?], quite the opposite. My mistake?)

In any case, I am skeptical of RM's argument--he suggests King's best work only approaches OSC's best work, which is insane. King is notoriously uneven, but when he's on, and especially when he is constrained by the length of a short story, he's one of the best writers going, period.

What's interesting to me is that of my own "real life" friends, OSC is championed by the people who were bright, awkward, nerdy kids. I gather they feel like Card is someone who got them and they'll always think of him fondly for carrying that torch.

(I highly doubt Card is a smarter person than King, FWIW. King is thoroughly accessible, though, which is a death knell for respect from anyone with pretensions of being intellectual. Just as with musicians like Springsteen [or even Huey Lewis]...accessible often means "not important.")
posted by maxwelton at 11:40 PM on July 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


Tell Me No Lies: "seasparrow wrote...
I feel obligated to play devil's advocate.

I believe you are needed over in the Pacific Rim thread, where everyone is going on about how rocket assisted giant robot punches are awesome.
"

No way in hell you can argue that, so no need for a devil's advocate.
posted by Samizdata at 11:42 PM on July 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


It's Raining Florence Henderson: "Gamer's End."

Bah!

Ender's End.
posted by Samizdata at 11:44 PM on July 9, 2013


Endgame Durr.
posted by waraw at 11:55 PM on July 9, 2013


I read Ender's Game a long time ago, and liked it a lot. Like the best science fiction, it made me think and challenged my assumptions. Card expresses opinions I vehemently despise. I'm a little uncomfortable boycotting speech, but I won't be able to bring myself to support someone so wrong, and enable in any way the wrongness he funds and promotes. His comments about tolerance really show a lot of denial and disordered thinking
Ender’s Game is set more than a century in the future and has nothing to do with political issues that did not exist when the book was written in 1984. ...
Now it will be interesting to see whether the victorious proponents of gay marriage will show tolerance toward those who disagreed with them when the issue was still in dispute.

Orson, you hypocrite, it's personal. You espouse hateful beliefs, so people don't want to be near you. My only concern is that there will be an anti-boycott, and the Mormon faithful will show up in droves.
posted by theora55 at 11:57 PM on July 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


It takes no action to refuse OSC.
It takes deliberate choice to decide to go to his movie despite the knowledge that doing so will cause greater social harm vis a vis increased funding of socially regressive groups.

Actively choosing to increase harm? Because one wants to be momentarily entertained? WTF?
posted by five fresh fish at 11:58 PM on July 9, 2013 [9 favorites]


Never read OSC. Had no particular desire to see the movie before, his general rotten-ness and brilliant tear-downs by Badass and AV Club pretty much make me disinclined to seek out his work.

However, I'm always wary about linking the art and the artist with the moral ferocity that happens in the group hate-ons like we love to indulge here on MF. For a couple reasons.

One, brilliant creative types are often notoriously creepy people. All through history, to this very day. And it extends down to everyday, non creative people. Not only was Picasso a tremendous rotten asshole. That sous chef at your favorite restaurant is a unbelievable fucking asshole, votes for fascists, hates fags, joos, etc. And you gladly pay his wages. Look deep enough at just about anyone, and you're bound to be seriously squicked out. I can afford to give OSC the finger, as I've never been touched by his art. And I don't blame anyone for doing the same. But I can understand that his work may be a positive good on humanity as a whole, and if he's lucky, history may deem it much more memorable and worthwhile any of his odious bigotry. I think consumers of art (and just about anything else) are wise to not link human creative output too strongly with the moral merit of the human creator. There is sometimes such a thing as too much information.

Second, I reflexively dislike the "sound-off" dynamic that happens when large numbers of like minded people get passionate about something. It becomes more a public signaling declaration, a weird kind of community building circle jerk. I'm satisfied to flag OSC's shittiness, and move on. I'm just not inclined to stew in everyone else's juices, too.
posted by 2N2222 at 12:51 AM on July 10, 2013 [4 favorites]


Can we *please* stop talking about this sorry hack in the same context as people like Eliot, Dickens and Picasso?

I see him as more akin to Tupac. Sure, the guy turned out a couple of catchy albums, but he was also a convicted sex abuser and a homophobe.

If you can ignore that shit to listen to California Love, and you're happy to put money in Suge Knight's pocket -- knock yourself out.

But please don't compare him with Picasso.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 1:56 AM on July 10, 2013 [3 favorites]


Picasso's late Homophobe period is frequently misunderstood.
posted by Artw at 2:08 AM on July 10, 2013 [3 favorites]


However, I'm always wary about linking the art and the artist with the moral ferocity that happens in the group hate-ons like we love to indulge here on MF

For one thing this card has already been played in this thread.

For another, there's actually a lot of information - which I guess you're implying you'd rather not know - upthread about Card as a political entity, he chose that himself. Don't recall Picasso using his artworld fame to advocate for the imprisonment of women, he was a dick on his own time for sure but he didn't to my knowledge center his public persona on misogny.

Sous chef at my favorite restaurant? Well, he decorates the place w/ antisemitic graffiti then no matter how good the food is, it's a problem.

Glad someone stopped into the thread to disapprove of the idea of commenting in it, that's always a treat.

The whole 'people passionately agree on things and I remain above the fray so I am better' is a classic troll tactic- not an accusation, but whether a person actually believes that or not it's hard to see what it's intended to add to the discussion.
posted by hap_hazard at 2:22 AM on July 10, 2013 [8 favorites]


I know many people inside the Mormon Church who hate Orson Scott Card for the exact opposite reasons-- that he is "too soft" on gay rights, that he has had the temerity to writte gay characters into his fiction. To those people, OSC is a flaming liberal who is dragging us all down to hell with his evil novels. You guys in this thread even use a lot of the same words that the ultra-Mormons do to describe him. I just feel sorry for the guy-- getting it from both ends (hello double entendre!).

Yeah, yeah, yeah. The Mormons basically had to be dragged kicking and screaming into acknowledging that Black people were actually human within living memory, so colour me not impressed that Card is thought liberal by some groups within that church.

(Bonus: Mormon flow chart for your soul.)
posted by MartinWisse at 2:34 AM on July 10, 2013 [4 favorites]


Like annathea, I was struck by Songmaster. Card's homophobia is not what you'd expect from his writing.

Really? A novel that's all about homosexuality as something that's taught to boys at a young age when they're sexually abused by older men and in which everybody lusts after the fifteen year old protagonist who looks like a ten year old boy?
posted by MartinWisse at 2:41 AM on July 10, 2013 [3 favorites]


Was I the only one disappointed that NOM aren't an organisation committed to improving the quality of cat snacks?
posted by biffa at 2:45 AM on July 10, 2013 [9 favorites]


If you don't like the hate group, and want to see them disbanded, and don't want to see money going to them, then why are you comfortable giving your money to a guy who is going to use it to fund that hate group?

Because seeing a cool action sci-fi movie is more important?
posted by MartinWisse at 2:49 AM on July 10, 2013


Guys I have another theory here.

What if the movie isn't turning out that great? That's quite likely, after all, given how few movies are great, and the difficulty of adapting novels to film. In that context, he is positioning a group to take the blame for the failure of the movie to perform financially. And possibly try to stir up an evangelical counter-boycott where megachurches buy out whole theaters and whatever else they did for Passion.

He wins no matter what.
posted by breath at 3:31 AM on July 10, 2013


OSC has his supporters in the SF community...
posted by aeshnid at 3:46 AM on July 10, 2013


Dang, or Theodore Sturgeon, or Ray Bradbury or Jonathan Lethem or to some extent, mitigated by his crazy-extreme attitudes on intellectual property, KW Jeter.

I hear 90% of his stuff is crud.
posted by ersatz at 4:00 AM on July 10, 2013 [3 favorites]


OSC has his supporters in the SF community...

The overlap between those who support OSC and poo-poo the con harassment and the racist, sexist, homophobic dipshits in SFWA is almost a complete circle. Brad Torgersen, for instance, who showed up in the SFWA dialogues as claiming that Ted Beale was the victim of a leftist vendetta, is constantly defending OSC and claiming that he never said gay marriage meant an end to democracy and civilization.
posted by zombieflanders at 4:08 AM on July 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


Can we *please* stop talking about this sorry hack in the same context as people like Eliot, Dickens and Picasso?

Comparing Card's homophobia to Eliot's writing about Jews being lower than rats is acceptable, I think.

Anyway, Card is much more than an artist—he's a children's author. And children's lit doesn't have to be as deep or eternal as an Eliot poem to deeply resonate with a young person and change their life for the better.

For me, Ender's Game is up there with Harry Potter and The Phantom Tollbooth as far as books which shaped my outlook so much when I was young that I can still see directly how it influences my way of thinking. One of the reasons I go back to reread him every year or so, in fact, is that I sometimes worry about whether there's nasty stuff in those books that made me a worse person because I took their worldview for granted and adopted a part of OSC's ugly mentality. Yet when I go back to it I still find vastly more good than bad there.
posted by Rory Marinich at 5:25 AM on July 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


If it makes you feel any better, OSC, I'm not avoiding the Ender's Game movie because of your anti-gay actions. I'm avoiding it because I don't need another story about Picked-On Super Nerd Saves The Earth.

Also, if the gay marriage issue is as settled as you claim, I assume you'll be helping NOM to disband, since they're no longer needed?
posted by Legomancer at 5:34 AM on July 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


Second, I reflexively dislike the "sound-off" dynamic that happens when large numbers of like minded people get passionate about something. It becomes more a public signaling declaration, a weird kind of community building circle jerk.

no
posted by Greg Nog at 5:39 AM on July 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


OSC has his supporters in the SF community...

En forme de poire's link has a good line that sums up these silly children:

Sci-fi urgently needs to purge itself of the work of these gun nuts and armchair tacticians — there are few things more embarrassing than to watch a middle-aged man play with his toy soldiers.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 5:40 AM on July 10, 2013 [4 favorites]


I just wish that Card could control his unnatural and disgusting homophobic urges. Each of us needs to serve as an example to our children, who are so easily confused, that marriage has one and only one acceptable form: the obvious truth that a man or a woman should be able to marry whomever they love.
posted by double block and bleed at 5:52 AM on July 10, 2013 [7 favorites]


So far this thread all seems to be the same people with the same beliefs all congratulating each other on what a despicable person Orson Scott Card is. Good for you! I'm glad you found a community of like-minded friends here on the internet. But whenever I see that kind of group thinking, and with no other alternative point of view being presented, I feel obligated to play devil's advocate. I'm just stubborn that way.

I reflexively dislike the "sound-off" dynamic that happens when large numbers of like minded people get passionate about something. It becomes more a public signaling declaration, a weird kind of community building circle jerk. I'm satisfied to flag OSC's shittiness, and move on. I'm just not inclined to stew in everyone else's juices, too.


It bears reminding that this guy has direct control over activities prventing or removing civil rights from significant numbers of people. Keeping that it mind, at what point does this oh-so-free-thinking POV turn into something you folks give a shit about? Is it when they're ostracized? Or jailed? Or killed? I know this all sounds very "First they came for..." but of course, that's the point. When does opposing what you classify as groupthink just for the self-satisfaction of doing so become something that allows for the harm to come to other people?
posted by zombieflanders at 6:06 AM on July 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


Well, at least Cory's not gonna boycott it.

Whoa -- embarrassing misuse of semicolon in the very first sentence, Cory.
posted by aught at 6:36 AM on July 10, 2013


straight: Rory, I'd love to hear your response to that John Kessel article I linked above.

I am not Rory but I find that article frustratingly dense.

Graff, et. al are monsters. I don't see how that isn't clear. They have manipulated Ender into something awful and I don't see this being presented as something good, normal or right. It looks horrific and it is. That is why Ender turns the world against himself with The Hive Queen.


[quotes that follow are from the Kessel piece]

"Graff’s judgment on the deaths of Bonzo and Stilson clarifies Card’s definition of a killer" is just INSANE. Graff is a psychopath. Those are Graff's ideas, not Card's.

"In this Card argues that the morality of an act is based solely on the intentions of the person acting."

Kessel seems to be trying to read an absolute morality where there is no grey, no nuance, no mixed elements into the stories and it just doesn't fit. He seems to be working from a position that intentions have nothing to do with anything and is strawmanning Card as being from the other extreme. (Once again Kessel is mistaking what a character says for what the author thinks).

Nothing here is that simple. I read the books as saying that intentions are important but mostly for understanding how each other works. Judging people includes considering those intentions. It is also not a binary process.

Horrific acts are still horrible and to be regretted. And we have a responsibility to try to avoid them (which is what the rest of the series is about). The Formics are horrified when they realize that they are killing sentient beings and from then on leave humans alone. Similarly Ender is horrified when he realizes what he has done and ruins his reputation as a hero by explaining those horrors.

The morality on display here is that we are responsible for trying to understand our situation and the systems around us as well as others sentient beings, to see things from their perspective and work towards mutually beneficial ends. Ender solves a lot of problems, mostly by reading situations and understanding what is really going on and how the conflict can be resolved. That is what he retains, that is what is held up as positive, as good.
posted by mountmccabe at 7:17 AM on July 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


I fully support OSC's right to freedom of speech.

And also my right not to see some asshole's film. At least until I can procure it for free, preferably via legal means.
posted by nowhere man at 7:24 AM on July 10, 2013 [4 favorites]


I have zero intention of seeing this film: I've been personally boycotting OSC and his work for a long, long time. OSC is both a homophobe and a misogynist, and has been one all along: teh gayz are all out to abuse the nice little straight boys, and women..... well, as near as I can tell, he is firmly in the "good women = obedient & submissive wives/mothers; bad women = sluts/whores" camp. Hopefully, this thing will sink like a rock, and have miserable box office receipts.

But whether it's good or bad, I suggest that the rest of you who are planning to boycott this movie avoid it in any form, not just in movie theaters: it's not just the dollars it makes that will be part of the equation determining if another OSC book gets made into a movie, it's eyes --- how many times it gets viewed online, for instance. The less total interest displayed in this film means a lower likelihood of another one.
posted by easily confused at 7:42 AM on July 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


I mean, honestly, this feels like hearing people say that the movie Starship Troopers has some unseemly elements.
posted by mountmccabe at 8:02 AM on July 10, 2013


It takes no action to refuse OSC.
It takes deliberate choice to decide to go to his movie despite the knowledge that doing so will cause greater social harm vis a vis increased funding of socially regressive groups.

Actively choosing to increase harm? Because one wants to be momentarily entertained? WTF?


Jesus Christ, yes.

There are a couple of reasons I am not going to see this movie, in spite of rather enjoying the book years ago. The first is that Card is not just an unrepentant, loud and proud homophobe, but one who actively works against equality issues and helps fund a hate group. The second is that by seeing this movie, I would be giving my LGBT friends and family a giant "Fuck you, I don't care about you, your feelings, or your fight for rights that should have been yours from the get-go."

This all puts me very much in mind of the Chik-fil-a weaseling. "But, but, but! So delicious, I neeeeed it!" or "What about the employees?" Justify your support of people and organizations that actively work against equality and the common good all you like, it's still gross.
posted by MissySedai at 8:43 AM on July 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


For me, Ender's Game is up there with Harry Potter and

It ain't for me. It's magnitudes better. I first read both Ender's Game and the first two Harry Potter books as an adult. The former was a damned compelling narrative that never ceased moving forward, explored some really complex themes and (in the end) managed to pull off a fairly shocking conclusion I did not see coming. The Harry Potter books just made me wish I was ten years old again, because I would have LOVED them at that age. But at age 30-something, it all just felt very thin.

Which is the real frustration with Mr. Card. He is (or certainly was) a hell of a storyteller. A master of his particular niche of the form. If only he could have chosen to be like so many other greats and kept his toxicity to himself in his lifetime ... and left it to biographers etc to dig it up after his death, thus putting off the tarnish. But no, he's chosen to force feed us.

So, whatever, boycott the movie (which is the work of very many people) if you must. But please don't demand that I do so as well.


I do understand the jaundice that many are feeling about OSC. I tend to feel the same way about various talents who have aligned themselves with Scientology.
posted by philip-random at 8:49 AM on July 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


Fuck this guy. Can't we just get some Harry Harrison on the screen? I'd kill to see a few Stainless Steel Rat flicks...
posted by stenseng at 9:50 AM on July 10, 2013 [7 favorites]


mountmccabe: I find that article frustratingly dense. Graff, et. al are monsters. I don't see how that isn't clear. They have manipulated Ender into something awful and I don't see this being presented as something good, normal or right.

Yes, but I think the insightful part of the essay is when he asks, Why is Card telling this story? Why this convoluted manipulation of Ender, backing him into a corner where he has no choice but to--ignorantly and therefore "innocently"--commit genocide (and other, smaller, atrocities)? And what ugly fantasies of our own does that kind of story mythologize?

You're right that the reader is supposed to see Graff's manipulations as monstrous, but the ugly part is this vision of a world where we are manipulated by monstrous circumstances into doing horrible, unavoidable, things, and it's not really our fault. Ender gets to be this ruthless, sadistic, badass who crushes all his enemies, and yet somehow, simultaneously, the tragic victim of the story. It's Ender's suffering that tugs at our heart, not the suffering of the people / beings he hurts.
posted by straight at 9:58 AM on July 10, 2013 [3 favorites]


They can do fundraisers so that every dollar you spend on the ticket you donate two to their cause, not only canceling out any potential revenue that Mr. Card may receive, but actually negatively affecting it.

that's something, but it still has the effect of voting with dollars that (1) you're ok with the industry hiring and enriching people engaged in activist bigotry, and (2) they should feel free to pay money to hire card for another project, because you'll give them money in any case.

i've been disappointed to see how many sites characterize card's remarks as a 'defense' or a 'cry for tolerance'. his comment was neither; it was pure snark, intended to turn the language of gay rights against itself as an appeal to the talk-radio crowd (with the added persecution complex they all love, this time which card tries to divert toward the work itself, with that whole politics-in-1984 thing). it's like when limbaugh accuses his detractors of reverse racism, or when that kid in school used to say 'why can't we have a white history month?'

i'm seeing quite a bit of the 'separate the art from the artist' justification as well, which tends to be a better argument when financial support of a work does not directly fund the bigoted efforts in question.
posted by fallacy of the beard at 10:40 AM on July 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


OSC has his supporters in the SF community...

En forme de poire's link has a good line that sums up these silly children:

Sci-fi urgently needs to purge itself of the work of these gun nuts and armchair tacticians — there are few things more embarrassing than to watch a middle-aged man play with his toy soldiers.


They're not talking about the same thing. There's overlap, sure, but the common thread uniting OSC supporters isn't military SF; it's religion.
posted by Amanojaku at 10:50 AM on July 10, 2013


I don't see the books as saying that Ender is innocent. He is also not sadistic. I also don't see him as a tragic victim. And while, sure, his suffering tugs I also found the xenocide of the Formics to be heartbreaking.

And I think the point of creating such a world is not to revel but to see how awful that system (which is extrapolated from real world systems) is and to turn standard hero/villain stories on their head. There are no heroes in this story. There are also no villains.

(But this could probably be considered off-topic so I will keep anything further I write on this to me-mail).
posted by mountmccabe at 10:53 AM on July 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


Christian groups have called for boycotts of J.C. Penny, Starbucks, Disney, and Cheerios (among many others) over those companies' open support of diversity and tolerance. Somehow, when Christians boycott it's supposed to be "free speech," but when Christians themselves get boycotted it's "tyranny" and "opression."

I think we should now start calling this "playing the Orson Scott Victim Card."
posted by dnash at 10:58 AM on July 10, 2013 [30 favorites]


I've read those critiques of Ender's game and feel like they missed the point by a mile. They remind me of when I heard that a professor had denounced Django Unchained as racist (against black people) because it made the violence against black people really horrid, and violence against white people trivial. I mean, sure, you can read it that way if you really want, but that is pretty much opposite of what the film is going for. Death of the author and all that, but that article seems to take things in precisely the opposite way to the way I take them.

Re the boycott, to be honest I feel like those who are trying to reject it are arguing from the position that they really want to see the film, so are finding away to ignore their scruples. As a vegetarian, I've had conversations with meat eaters which end "well you're right, but I really like eating meat,". This kind of activity is actually not that bad, because we all do it: for example I should actually probably be a vegan if I was consistent, but I bloody love cheese. When you get down to it the impact of an individual choosing not to go or to go to this film will be relatively little, so if someone does want to go I'm not that fussed, but I do think trying to argue that its a-ok and that no-one should be boycotting it is going a little too far.
posted by Cannon Fodder at 11:17 AM on July 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


Which is the real frustration with Mr. Card. He is (or certainly was) a hell of a storyteller. A master of his particular niche of the form. If only he could have chosen to be like so many other greats and kept his toxicity to himself in his lifetime ... and left it to biographers etc to dig it up after his death, thus putting off the tarnish. But no, he's chosen to force feed us.

So, whatever, boycott the movie (which is the work of very many people) if you must. But please don't demand that I do so as well.
It's not a matter of keeping his toxicity to himself. I wouldn't mind him at all if he just ranted against gay marriage. The world is full of unpleasant people. The problem is that he directly funds the oppression of others. Would you go to a movie if you knew that a portion of the profits would go to, say, the American Nazi Party?

No one is demanding you do anything. But please don't demand absolution from other people judging your actions.
posted by me & my monkey at 11:22 AM on July 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


yeah, i'm not going to take it as a personal insult or anything if somebody goes to see it. i do appreciate the support of straight buds who otherwise want to see it and refuse to on the basis of his anti-gay work; the support of our straight allies is essential to progress on the gay rights front, and i have hugs for all you buds.

but if you're going to go see it because you want to see it, you don't need to justify it. just do so, but maybe forgo explaining whatever mental gymnastics you're using to make it ok with yourself (if you're doing that), because at a certain point that does get insulting.
posted by fallacy of the beard at 11:28 AM on July 10, 2013 [7 favorites]


Joe in Australia: yeah, I don't think I can force myself to read a novel that opens with the public rape of a 12 year old girl in florid dialogue, even if it is his best work.
posted by Canageek at 12:27 PM on July 10, 2013


From the comments at the AV Club:
All this talk of alien fucking makes me secretly hope that this movie contains a suprise cameo by John Barrowman playing Orson Scott Card and it turns into "Springtime for People-Who-Share-Their-Views-Of-Homosexuality-With-Hitler."
I would pay good money to see this.
posted by pxe2000 at 12:49 PM on July 10, 2013 [5 favorites]


Card has a fond place in my heart because 1) I read Ender's Game as a teenager and found lots in it that resonated with me, and 2) When he later turned out to be the hateful shitheel that he did, I went back to my earlier admiration of him and realized the degree to which any author stacks the deck within their work. I struggled to understand how the author of something as brilliant as Ender's Game could be so manifestly dumb in arguing his anti-gay positions. I concluded that the book was that brilliant only because a novel is set piece, not a revelation.

So, thanks, OSC. You helped me understand both how writers and other artists could illuminate the world for me, and the limits of their ability to do so.
posted by fatbird at 6:29 PM on July 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


I remember back when I was long-haired freak, I had this idea to construct a small stage next to the entrance to the local Hot Topic, sorta like those little trays where you can leave your drink at some stores.

See, back in the late 90s/early 00s, it was the height of unseemliness for a "goth/punk/industrial/etc" person to set foot in Hot Topic. Of course, given that it was a store in the mall that catered to that EXACT demographic, inevitably, people would find reason to go in there. I felt like it would help this portion of their clientele (read: all of them) if there was a convenient stage on which people could stand and deliver their requisite soliloquy of "Oh GOD can you believe they put a Hot Topic here? What an insult, what horrid, overpriced crap / crass commercialization / CO-OPTING of our CULTURE / my unique style / feelings / owned by the GAP! (cresc.)... WELL, I mean, we're HERE, and I GUESS we could (as a joke! a total larf!) go inside, gosh, can you IMAGINE? etc" before inevitably going in and buying Manic Panic and Manson t-shirts, like they would have done anyway, had fewer people been watching.

And it's like, look, don't pretend like this shit matters to you for MY sake, if you can live with your actions, go ahead and take them, but don't pretend that you aren't engaging in major cognitive dissonance for something that is neither vital, nor unavoidable, but personal consumption of a consumer product. You don't get your indulgence AND moral consistency, but I figure that if you fancy yourself clever enough to pretend that you can, don't half-ass it in some tired aside, hit the lights, project to the back of the house, stand and deliver!

This thread needs a stage.
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 7:10 PM on July 10, 2013 [4 favorites]


what.
posted by stenseng at 9:43 AM on July 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


You know, looking at the picture of Card on the A.V. Club story, I suddenly thought "Hey, that's not Orson Scott Card. It's David Foley, and this is all some sort of joke. Right?"

Heh. Now I am picturing a "You know what? I'm a bad homophobe" monologue.
posted by John Smallberries at 7:08 PM on July 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


I have no doubt that Card has a good attitude towards menstruation...
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 8:54 PM on July 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


Lionsgate Entertainment Statement About ‘Ender’s Game’

As proud longtime supporters of the LGBT community, champions of films ranging from “Gods and Monsters” to “The Perks of Being a Wallflower” and a company that is proud to have recognized same-sex unions and domestic partnerships within its employee benefits policies for many years, we obviously do not agree with the personal views of Orson Scott Card and those of the National Organization for Marriage. However, they are completely irrelevant to a discussion of “Ender’s Game.” The simple fact is that neither the underlying book nor the film itself reflect these views in any way, shape or form. On the contrary, the film not only transports viewers to an entertaining and action-filled world, but it does so with positive and inspiring characters who ultimately deliver an ennobling and life-affirming message. Lionsgate will continue its longstanding commitment to the LGBT community by exploring new ways we can support LGBT causes and, as part of this ongoing process, will host a benefit premiere for “Ender’s Game.”

posted by MCMikeNamara at 1:32 PM on July 12, 2013


LIONSGATE says the homophobe that wrote the book has nothing to do with the film. Or something like that. I am not sure I follow the logic.
posted by cjorgensen at 6:54 PM on July 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


That's some weasle-ass bullshit squared.
posted by Artw at 7:02 PM on July 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


We can't expect them to shoot down their own film at this point, but it's good that they're getting slammed hard enough that they felt the need to do a press release.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 7:03 PM on July 12, 2013


I'd have liked them more if they were like, "Yeah, we understand the boycott, and it is up to consumers to decide whether or not financially supporting a homophobe is something they'd like to do. But Ender's Game is an adaptation of a classic book, and we hope that people will be appreciating this film long after homophobia has ceased to be a thing that anybody bothers doing anymore."

But they can't say that about this movie, because no indication of it suggests that it's respecting the source material beyond "battle people battling each other in battlespace", and this movie's just one of many Lionsgate is dumping out because it's been in production for a decade, why the hell not.
posted by Rory Marinich at 8:32 PM on July 12, 2013


I mean that's the whole damn job of public reputations, acknowledging that something happened while misdirecting attention elsewhere to keep the message spun, so that when people accuse you of being a moneygrubbing bastard you can say nope, not me, I am the very model of accountability and integrity, that's why it feels so good to give me money money money
posted by Rory Marinich at 8:35 PM on July 12, 2013


I was in a bookshop today. A family was in, and the young girl has obviously just read and loved Ender's Game (and at 11 or 12 who wouldn't), and was trying to work out which book to read next, Speaker For The Dead, or one of the Shadow books (of which her mother was a proponent.

Parts of this thread make me think I should doused the books in petrol and thrown a match.

Incidentally, apparently the book is selling like gangbusters (was #1 on the NYT bestseller list recently, now #10 in its 38th week, so I think Card is doing nicely from this whole thing one way or the other already (although said list features A GAME OF THRONES, by Daniel Abraham and Tommy Patterson, so it might be from Over There).

I couldn't find any tracking numbers, but it would be interesting to see them. I'm guessing it'll be a hit. It has buzz.
posted by Mezentian at 12:50 AM on July 13, 2013


Well Lionsgate's public statement has this, at least.

Lionsgate will continue its longstanding commitment to the LGBT community by exploring new ways we can support LGBT causes and, as part of this ongoing process, will host a benefit premiere for ENDER’S GAME.

Now the general public that watches the film in theaters doesn't have to donate alongside their ticket, because part of that ticket price will be donated anyway. Lionsgate must have a MeFi account.
posted by Apocryphon at 10:11 AM on July 13, 2013


See above, Re: just go see your homophobe movie and don't pretend any moral offsetting means a shit. Card will still being your money as a validation of his choices.
posted by Artw at 10:23 AM on July 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


That's an interesting response, because that posits that spending money on something that the artist created means tacitly supporting his views, while taking part of the money that would have gone to him and giving it to something diametrically agains this views is meaningless?
posted by Apocryphon at 11:08 AM on July 13, 2013


His little statement pretty much means he can claim it as a poll on him and his ridiculous views. I have a suspicioun thats at least part of the reason why he made his little statement.
posted by Artw at 12:39 PM on July 13, 2013


Just because he claims it doesn't mean its so, I would have never expected you of all people to give him so much credit.
posted by Blasdelb at 1:37 PM on July 13, 2013


I hereby announce that anyone purchasing Mountain Dew agrees with me that the United States should implement a single-payer health care system.
posted by straight at 1:42 PM on July 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


straight: "I hereby announce that anyone purchasing Mountain Dew agrees with me that the United States should implement a single-payer health care system."

HA HA IT WAS A COKE ZERO. BETTER LUCK NEXT TIME, "COMRADE."
posted by jquinby at 3:55 PM on July 13, 2013 [4 favorites]


spending money on something that the artist created means tacitly supporting his views

Of course it does. Every penny of income to the artist is a penny that the artist can use to promote his views. Money is fungible: your support of the artist is, ultimately, support for the things the artist spends money on.

In Card's case, your penny funds his anti-gay crusade. There is simply no escaping it. Do what you will, but don't try to blow smoke about it. Own the fact that seeing this movie is to put money into Card's hateful political action groups.
posted by five fresh fish at 4:00 PM on July 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


no
posted by philip-random at 4:23 PM on July 13, 2013




Why not just buy a ticket to a different movie, then go into the wrong theatre?
posted by Canageek at 9:34 AM on July 16, 2013


Why not just not bother with the icky homophobe movie? It's not going to kill you.
posted by Artw at 9:38 AM on July 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


If the reviews come in and it gets effectively tagged as icky and homophobic, trust that I won't go. But if they instead say, it's a good (maybe even great) movie based on a story written by a guy who more recently has been revealed to be an icky homophobe, I will consider the situation a little more complex ... even if the guy stands to make a few bucks on the deal.

Tom Cruise is an icky (and proselytizing) Scientologist. Where's the boycott of all of his movies?
posted by philip-random at 10:35 AM on July 16, 2013


While ugly, proselytizing Scientology does not come close in scale to attempting to use the U.S. government to institutionalize homophobia.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 12:30 PM on July 16, 2013 [1 favorite]




That reminds me... we went to see Pacific Rim last Monday after work and though it was probably 80% men, I think we were the only ones there on a date; however, when the Ender's Game preview came up, the audience turned on it like it was Anita Bryant was trying to sell orange juice in the Castro in 1977.

I don't think this one incident in Chicago is really reflective of the movie's box office chances overall, but I'm not going to lie -- it felt awesome.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 2:24 PM on July 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


Turned on it? As in verbally? My audience didn't make a peep, although I believe I muttered to myself.
posted by brundlefly at 2:26 PM on July 18, 2013


Mainly my crowd was pissed off about all the spoilers in that block of trailers.
posted by Artw at 2:28 PM on July 18, 2013


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