Orson Scott Card Defends Against Ender's Game Boycott

Orson Scott Card Ender's Boycott

Orson Scott Card is no stranger to controversy, specifically surrounding his public condemnation of homosexuality. The upcoming film adaptation of Ender's Game, his most famous work, has been keeping him in the spotlight, which has been causing some serious PR problems for film's producers. In fact, it's all led to a boycott campaign against the film, where LGBT activists ask audiences to "keep your money out of Orson Scott Card’s pockets."

In response to the boycott, Card released a statement to Entertainment Weekly:

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. With the recent Supreme Court ruling, the gay marriage issue becomes moot. The Full Faith and Credit clause of the Constitution will, sooner or later, give legal force in every state to any marriage contract recognized by any other state. 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.

Now, let's be clear here. Card is not a passive opponent of gay rights; he's said that any government that supports gay marriage is his mortal enemy, joined the board of the National Organization for Marriage in 2009, and has penned multiple articles condemning any movement toward gay rights. As a gay rights opponent, he's the real deal.

All that being said, and speaking personally as someone who fervently supports gay rights, I'm not so sure boycotting a movie based on his work is a necessary move (though this is a question we've debated before on LitReactor). The movie executives seem to have distanced themselves from him as much as they can without being obvious about it, and after having read Ender's Game a couple of times, I don't remember there being any anti-homosexual tint to it in the least. It seems unlikely that the gay rights movement is going to be set back in any way simply because Card makes some royalty money on a movie adaptation of his novel.

But that's only my opinion. Do you think I'm wrong?

Nathan Scalia

News by Nathan Scalia

Nathan Scalia earned a BA degree in psychology and considered medical school long enough to realize that he missed reading real books. He then went on to earn a Master's in Library Science and is currently working in a school library. He has written several new articles and columns for LitReactor, served for a time as the site's Community Manager, and can be found in the Writer's Workshop with some frequency.

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Rob's picture
Class Director
Rob from New York City is reading at a fast enough pace it would be cumbersome to update this July 11, 2013 - 7:10am

I had no plans to see the movie but was curious to read the book. Now I probably won't, because that "please be tolerant of my intolerance" thing is just so abhorent it makes my stomach hurt.

abuzzinid's picture
abuzzinid from Boise, ID is reading working my way through my TBR piles July 11, 2013 - 7:18am

Now I know why I have always found his writing off-putting. His tiny views restrict his vision to a small, fearful sphere. Even his writing advice is suspicious and restrictive and opressed. How sad it would be to be so limited in thought and experience. 

Richard's picture
Richard from St. Louis is reading various anthologies July 11, 2013 - 7:32am

I have to admit I read Ender's long before I knew about his beliefs. It's tricky. Can we separate the art from the artist? I'm sure he's not the only bigot to create art, there must be other misogynstic, racist, homophobic authors out there. Can we enjoy the art on its own? Like Nathan said, if the writing or film or painting doesn't contain that bias, can we enjoy it on its own or because the artist, like OSC, is public about his views, does that mean we have the moral obligation to boycott? Hard to say. But obviously he's not helping himself. I won't be going out of my way to see this film, but dammit, I loved the book. Can I donate whatever I spend on a movie ticket to a LGBT group to balance it out? :-)

Nathan Scalia's picture
Nathan Scalia from Kansas is reading so many things July 11, 2013 - 7:39am

^Nathan likes this.

Joshua Chaplinsky's picture
Joshua Chaplinsky from New York is reading a lot more during the quarantine July 11, 2013 - 7:43am

He's all, now that I've been stopped from limiting your rights as a human being, you should be retroactively tolerant of that oppression and give me your money. Ha!

That being said, if this was a movie I REALLY wanted to see, I'd probably go see it anyway.

Stuart Gibbel's picture
Stuart Gibbel from California is reading Angel Falls by Michael Paul Gonzalez July 11, 2013 - 7:50am

I find it ironic that he is asking us to be tolerant.  

I will see the movie if my teenage son wants to see it. This is how I decide to see any movie. He might not want to go becasue he is boycotting chik-fil-a for their hatred. 


Michael Oberlin's picture
Michael Oberlin July 11, 2013 - 7:53am

Honestly, it's a bit narrow to think that anyone is purely good or evil. Generally, I think Card is an idiot and heavily leans toward evil, but I have also read the book and remember no major homophobic slant in it. In fact, I don't think it was ever brought up.

Curiously, in the sequels, a comment that his character Jane made to her lover about being equally male and female was taken by me as thoroughly pro gay rights, long before I heard about his agitated-old-hyperreligious-mormon speech. This is one of the reasons that I took the news of that event with confusion.

But realistically, this is the only real blockbuster that Card ever wrote. His books follow a formula, even today. I don't like him, I disagree with him to the fringe of violence; but a small portion of the money from this film is likely to end up in his pockets anyway. Additionally, money aside, this has boiled the controversy over his incendiary remarks to the surface, and is likely to bite him in the near future as the extent of his homophobia rakes its way through media outlets. It may kill his career. I'm entirely serious about this.

That in mind, for the sake not of Card but of Asa Butterfield and Sir Ben Kingsley (+ awesome Maori tattoos), I intend to see the movie. The karmic circle will close with a bang. Watch.

Renfield's picture
Renfield from Hell is reading 20th Century Ghosts July 11, 2013 - 8:43am

I will definitely be seeing this movie.

I found ENDERS GAME to be quite homoerotic actually, which is particularly creepy considering the age of characters and all the violence, as well as it being one of the most morally reprehensible books I've read, which I think is why it works so well for me. It totally is built out of his bizarre beliefs, even if it remains neutral on the subjects (see the creepy breeding rituals pimpling the universe of the book.)

I feel all right listening to NS punk, to certain styles of country music, both of which I could find morally disgusting. I don't think HP Lovecraft would be the writer I love without his putrid xenophobia. I can deal fine with the cognitive dissonance between art and its message, it's even an enjoyable challenge. I'll go see the movie and he can get his royalties for his work and that'll be that, even if I'd want to slap him if he tried to talk some of his bullshit around me.

ReneeAPickup's picture
Class Facilitator
ReneeAPickup from Southern California is reading Wanderers by Chuck Wendig July 11, 2013 - 9:12am

I don't know if I'll see it or not, depends on how it looks. I am pretty intolerant of the things OSC has written that are blatantly homophobic, but Enders Game is kind of a pillar in sci-fi.

The thing that's ridiculous here, though, is that the more he runs his yap, the less I give a shit about the film. He's making a big mistake by having a hissy fit over this, as most people wouldn't even be aware of the boycott if he didn't make this statement that then flooded the internet.

SamaLamaWama's picture
SamaLamaWama from Dallas is reading Something Wicked This Way Comes July 11, 2013 - 10:27am

I think the artist's views do come into play and need to be considered. If he takes a stand against human rights because some voice in his head told him he's better than me, then that's not someone I will support. I love Chick Fil A's sandwiches but I will never eat there again. Period. End of story. Taking a stand against something wrong is going to cause a little discomfort, but it's worth it in the long run. It's my rights he's shitting on today, tomorrow it could be yours.

I'm not saying artists can't hold opinions different from mine, just don't actively work to incite violence and intolerance against people who aren't doing anything wrong but living their lives.


Dino Parenti's picture
Dino Parenti from Los Angeles is reading Everything He Gets His Hands On July 11, 2013 - 11:05am

Gotta love the passive, bullshit response of the Card camp: "(Ender's Game)...has nothing to do with political issues that did not exist when the book was written in 1984..." It follows the mold of morons who think gay issues are only a recent phenomena--that homosexuality only sprouted from the earth over the last couple of decades. They use the same logic with atheism. It's a little like arguing Gone with the Wind has no resonance with the plight of African-Americans because it was written before the Civil Rights Act. 

As for boycotting the movie, that's always tricky business. Yeah, Mel Gibson said some pretty awful shit, but if he were suddenly to star in another Mad Max movie, I'd be the first in line. In this case, his insanity informs his art. I can separate the finished artistic product (be it book, movie or music) from the artist and enjoy it on its own merits, but I wouldn't invite Mel, or this cowardly asshole, Card, over for dinner.

Michael.Eric.Snyder's picture
Michael.Eric.Snyder July 11, 2013 - 11:41am

I wonder if his percentages are lower because of his bigoted beliefs and the inherent (if slight) political risk associated with them? Because of the potential longer term backlash against the studio and distributors and actors? Let's hope so.

AdHocAgitProp's picture
AdHocAgitProp from North Carolina is reading The Marx-Engels Reader July 11, 2013 - 11:37am

Orson Scott Card is not a stupid man, but he does do stupid things, and frequently defends morally indefensible things from time to time. Sadly, he joins a long list of authors whom I admire despite being bigots, racists, or morally challenged: Among them, HP Lovecraft, Frank Herbert, Harlan Ellison, Robert E. Howard. All excellent writers, all ahead of their time in some respect, but nonetheless all fairly hateful in some deep-seated, malignant manner.

That said, Ender's Game is not a particularly moral text. It reminds me a bit of Starship Troopers, in that it is a text fascists would very much like, and do, in reality, frequently recommend: the United States Marine Corps uses Ender's Game as recommended reading for theory on the justification of the use of violence. More than those which glorify raw force and murder, I admire the writings of those which abhor, and seek and end to both. That's not say I want to see it, or its movie adaptation banned. I just won't be taking any small children to see it without a bit of moral pretext and explanation.

I'd add in here something about the oft-cited "Myth of the Ethical Consumer" about boycotts here, but I'd probably be talking to myself again.

ReneeAPickup's picture
Class Facilitator
ReneeAPickup from Southern California is reading Wanderers by Chuck Wendig July 11, 2013 - 1:13pm

I guess I'm a fascist, as I served in the USMC and read quite a bit of the Commandant's reading list. 

Learn somethin' new everyday.

James McArthur's picture
James McArthur from Potato is reading a book July 11, 2013 - 1:24pm

I wonder if I can see it and not feel guilty by donating the price of my ticket to a LGBT rights group... Given that some of the money for the ticket goes to the theater and gets split up even more by the makers of the movie, the LGBT group would be getting more money than Card. But Card still gets money if I see the movie. But I really want to see the movie (because apparently I too am a facist). First world problems.

Michael.Eric.Snyder's picture
Michael.Eric.Snyder July 11, 2013 - 1:42pm

How different is this because we know going in we're putting money in the pocket of someone so repugnant? Or is it different at all?

It's one thing to read or view something when ignorant of the creator's beliefs, or when the creator's work is considered historically significant, a legitimate contendor for the canon, or already part of it. Maybe Ender's Game will enjoy that elite status. Perhaps it already does. 

But that doesn't mean I'm going to help line the pockets of such a hateful living person.

Shannon Barber's picture
Shannon Barber from Seattle is reading Paradoxia: A Predators Diary by Lydia Lunch July 11, 2013 - 3:33pm

I have no intention of seeing the movie I'm not interested but he doesn't want my money anyway because I'm a dirty dirty queer. 

jyh's picture
jyh from VA is reading whatever he feels like July 11, 2013 - 6:58pm

Apocalypto ranks in the top 10% of contemporary Hollywood films. Just sayin.

As I like to point out, the chances are if you pay to see movies at all, you're probably giving money to someone (somewhere in the food chain) who does something you don't like or believes in things with which you disagree. They just aren't famous (or vocal) enough for it to be news.

All the same, I wouldn't think less of someone for participating in a principled boycott.

Gerd Duerner's picture
Gerd Duerner from Germany is reading Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm July 11, 2013 - 11:59pm

Certainly you can't avoid giving money to anyone that you may not want to have it, like the government (:D), but in a case where you know where your money goes - or who's the prinicipal person behind it, you just have to go with your conscience.

Does watching Ender's Game hurt the rights of Homosexuals? No, probably not. And if you like the story and can watch it without having Card drone on in your head, then go for it, for gosh's sake, there's never enough SF flicks around as it is.

So, yeah, I cheer on both sides, those that want to see the movie for the story, and those that won't for Card.

SammyB's picture
SammyB from Las Vegas is reading currently too many to list July 12, 2013 - 1:15am

I've not read the book, and hadn't really heard of this man until it was brought to my attention that he would be writing some issues of the Superman comics. You mention Superman, you have my attention. I have no plans to see the movie, but it has nothing to do with his views. The movie just didn't look interesting to me (I'm not a huge fan of sci-fi, though I enjoy some of it). I don't agree with his views at all, but I don't agree with a lot of people for various reasons. My feminist sensibilities are offended on a regular basis.

Is the backlash toward him because he was outspoken about his bigotry? Because I can almost guarantee that Stephenie Meyer is homophobic too. She's Mormon, they are taught to view homosexuality as a horrible sin, but her career seems to be doing pretty well still.

SamaLamaWama's picture
SamaLamaWama from Dallas is reading Something Wicked This Way Comes July 12, 2013 - 7:33am

SammyB--(Love the name BTW) The difference is that SM doesn't go out there and speak against homosexuality. She might have those views, but then again, she might not. Just because someone is religious doesn't automatically mean they are homophobic. I have many friends and family members who are religious and they still love me and want what's best for me.  

The thing people need to remember is that religion is a choice. Each person gets to choose what religion (if any) they want to follow and they hold themselves accountable to those standards, but those standards don't apply to me. I get to live my life as I choose--as I see fit.

When are we going to learn that denying someone's rights is never a good thing. History has shown us this time and time again and yet we're still having to deal with this? It doesn't make any sense. The whole reason they don't want gays to marry is because of religion--when did we become a church state?  

Zackery Olson's picture
Zackery Olson from Rockford, IL is reading pretty much anything I can get my hands on July 12, 2013 - 10:39pm

Card is still an idiot. 'Ender's Game' is still a great novel, and one that is influential and important in science fiction. The book still doesn't seem to have anything to do with Card's illogical and ridiculous hatred of homosexuals. I'll probably still be seeing the movie. I will continue to denounce Card's views on homosexuality, as well as those of  any organization that holds similar views. Not buying his books or seeing movies based upon those books is a showy, but ultimately tiny, statement. If people want to do something to support gay rights that actually has some meaning and impact, donate to the organizations that fight against this ridiculous intolerence. Give your time or your money. Raise your children to accept and appreciate all reasonable lifestyles. Comat the problem from the ground up, not the top down.

Michael.Eric.Snyder's picture
Michael.Eric.Snyder July 12, 2013 - 11:07pm

I wonder, would comments differ here (and elsewhere) if race were at issue here instead of sexual identity. Would Lionsgate distribute the film, and would Card have found a studio interested in his work if he were an avowed racist who railed against interracial marriage as he has against gay marriage, and if he declaimed, incorrectly, those sexually attracted to individuals outside their own race were also suffering from paraphilia, as Card has described gays so afflicted.

Would those so magnanimously willing to offer lip service charity to LGBTQ groups, as some have stated here, think tipping the NAACP or other black rights groups a comparable, suitable balance to this faux equation?

And I take some offense to the characterization of a person's choice to give no money to OSC as tiny. My principles are not tiny. My sense of ethics is not tiny. 

My morality will not and does not abide such diminution.

ismirth's picture
ismirth July 14, 2013 - 11:17am

When the homophobes do things such as 'boycott girlscout cookies because they let in a transgirl' the gay/gender positive people all thought this was ridiculous behavior... but now those same people are adopting the bigot-behavior and calling to arms agaisnt OSC. One of my favorite quote is 'I may not agree with what you have to say but I will fight for your right to say it!'. Being a bigot against bigots is still being a bigot. Now that we are in the majority we need to do BETTER than when they were the majority. Everyone is allowed to have their opinion no matter how wrong it is. The majority bullying the minority has never convinced the minority to give up their views. They have to grow out of them on their own. We need to be better than them and NOT adopt their tactics. Do not 'hate the hater' or we are BEING THE HATER OURSELVES. We tout tolerance, and tolerance means that people are totally allowed their views. That does not entitle them to do illegal things. Having a different point of view, no matter how heinous as compared to ours, is something we ALL have to learn to be tolerant of. As abhorrent as his view is to us, that is how abhorrent our view is to him. He has a right to feel however he wants about anything.

Do not adopt the bigot's ways now that we are the majority, it would mean we are no better than them.

Also, over time OSC has slowly become less intolerant...minisculely, but still, he has. And realize that at the heart of his terror is likely some deepseated self-loathing. He likely has had some sexual thoughts towards men and feels 'tempted' if the option is 'allowable'. By exiling him and hating him we make it even harder to come to terms with that part of himself. Wouldn't the ultimate WIN be for him to face his sexual feelings and redact his position against gay marriage? I think it would. How many in-the-closets have we known over the years that 'hated' gays because they envied the gays that were out and it made them hateful? Lots.

Regardless of whether or not that last part truly applies to OSC or not, we need to be better than the bigots, and not be bigots ourselves.

If you act like a bigot, and/or are intolerant in any way, then you are a bigot. NO DOUBLE STANDARDS. Everyone is allowed their own point of view and no one should be burned at the stake for it no matter how crappy we think it is. There is no valid justification for being a bigot.

L.W. Flouisa's picture
L.W. Flouisa from Tennessee is reading More Murakami July 14, 2013 - 4:53pm

This whole article amounts to propaganda. I have seen no references to homosexuality in it. Lets avoid logical fallacies, and judge the book based on the book.

mascalia's picture
mascalia from Kansas is reading Rereading the Final Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever August 1, 2013 - 10:34am

When I was younger I went through a "fundamentalist" stage in my life.  At one point during that insanity I remember telling my mother I would never read or see anything by Truman Capote because he was gay (don't hate, we all have parts of our past we're not really proud of).   For the same reason, I refused to read Mary Renault's "The Last of the Wine" in one of my college literature (history?) classes.  To my complete surprise, my mother was disappointed with both choices.  She simply responded by saying I was avoiding some of the best literary works because of personal prejudice.   She seemed genuinely sad that I would take such a stance, and her unspoken rebuke was that I would be a lesser person because of it.

I've since grown up and left both that part of my life and those beliefs behind. However, the lesson I learned from my mother has stayed with me to this day. I try very hard (sometimes successfully) to separate the quality of someone's work from their personal beliefs, lifestyles, or past situations.   As an IT Architect, I design large scale technology solutions. I wouldn't want someone to judge the quality or worth of my work based on my beliefs, personal situation, or past events and actions. Good or bad, they have no bearing on the product or quality of work I provide. If I need a dishwasher, I don't care if someone who was gay, fundamentalist, scientologist, NRA/Greenpeace member or rabid CNN/FoxNews watcher built my dishwasher - it washes dishes, and does it well, therefore I will buy it and use it.

There are always exceptions, and I'm sure some fine folks will point out one or two for me.  For me, though, Card's personal beliefs and opinions (however objectionable) won't prevent me from enjoying any of his works that don't serve as a platform to advance those beliefs. In the same vein, I think Hubbard was a wingnut and I believe Scientology is a dubious organization (at best), but that didn't stop me from thoroughly enjoying the crazy nonsense that is "Battlefield: Earth".

I guess that's my long-winded way of saying that I enjoyed Ender's Game, will see (and hopefully enjoy) the movie, and will separate those experiences from my personal opinion of OSC the person (as he presents himself and his beliefs to the rest of the world).

Just my two pennies, for whatever that's worth.