Nancy Churnin: Should we boycott Orson Scott Card’s ‘Ender’s Game’?

This Controversy just won’t go away…

 

 

I have been looking forward to a film version ofEnder’s Game ever since I read the book with my son Sam when he was around 12. It’s a brilliant piece of work that was way ahead of its time when it was published in 1985, foretelling a world in which kids trained for battle on adaptive video games that grew more difficult as the kids’ skills increased. It casts judgment on a world that sent children to war because adults would be too aware of the cost of the war to kill as heartlessly as would be needed.

The book is a cry to understand the cost of killing and the need for compassion, even for alien races that may be attacking us out of misunderstanding. It is a celebration of creativity and the courage to challenge authority. Ender takes everything he has been told as fact and looks at it in a fresh way, allowing him to come up with more effective solutions to problems his elders failed to solve by doing the same thing over and over.

Now, just as I was getting excited about the first official trailer and the Nov. 1 release date, I have been distracted and disturbed by the controversy generated by the book’s author, Orson Scott Card. He has made remarks against gay marriage and has equated being gay with being mentally ill — an idea the American Psychiatric Association officially debunked, finally, in 1973.

Back in 1990, Card was quoted supporting laws against homosexual behavior. He was on the board of the National Organization for Marriage, which opposes same-sex unions, from 2009 until this year.

The advocacy group Geeks Out has responded by calling for a boycott of the movie. I’ve been asked (and I’m asking myself): Which side am I on? And am I tacitly on one side or the other when I decide to see or not to see the movie?

 

Boycotts can be a wonderful thing. They can be a peaceful way of changing the world, as when Mohandas Gandhi exhorted his followers to boycott British goods in favor of Indian ones. They can kick off a revolution, as when American patriots urged a boycott of English tea in favor of American coffee. They can change the laws of the land, as when the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. urged a boycott of Montgomery, Ala., buses that lasted 13 months — until the Supreme Court ruled that segregation on public buses was unconstitutional and that all people, no matter the color of their skin, have an equal right to sit in whatever available seat they choose.

But boycotts are most effective when they set out to accomplish a specific goal. In this case, what would a boycott of a person achieve? And would it divide us even further by labeling those who see the movie as being against gay rights, when they may not really feel that way at all?

One reason this issue tears at me is that I believe strongly in the rights of all people to live with dignity and to marry those they love. I support gay marriage and gay rights. I treasure the relationship my cousin has with his partner of many decades and look forward to the day they can legally marry and enjoy all the legal rights that my husband and I do.

But this thought nags at me: There is no bigotry in Ender’s Game. What I see and what I love in the book is its condemnation of war as the solution to our differences and its plea for kindness and creativity in a world divided into winners and losers trapped in stratified roles.

Card is wrong to say what he has said, and I am glad there is an outcry that reflects zero tolerance for bigotry. Yet are we ready to reject all of those who have campaigned against marriage equality? Consider that pretty much every president has done as much, including President Barack Obama, who did not support it when he first ran for office.

Obama has “evolved” — his words — on the issue, as have many other Democrats and Republicans. I hope Card will, too, even as his crazy tirades expand. Card drew gasps after a blog post in May, in which he compared Obama to Hitler and predicted a dictatorship with the first lady waiting in the wings. (It should be noted that he ended his essay with “if I really believed this stuff, would I actually write this essay?” But his points had already been made.)

What I keep coming back to is that if he can show such empathy and understanding for the alien races he has conjured, surely there must be some well of empathy and understanding in him to be tapped for the humans with whom he shares this world.

 

I also look at this issue through the prism of my own childhood. When I was growing up, my parents, who lived through the Holocaust, would sometimes question my love of Charles Dickens and Shakespeare. After all, Dickens had given us Fagin, sometimes just referred to in Oliver Twist as “the Jew,” a miserly ringleader of a band of thieves who cared about money above all. It was the kind of caricature Hitler had used in his propaganda machine in generating an image of Jews as worthy of extermination.

Meanwhile, Shakespeare had given us Shylock in The Merchant of Venice, the vengeful, duplicitous Jewish merchant determined to exact a pound of flesh from the good, kind Christian he loathed, as payment for all the insults that had been heaped on him over the years.

And what about Norse mythology — the stories of Thor and Odin that I devoured? These were the myths used by the Nazi regime. What about Wagner, Hitler’s favorite composer, who brought those myths to full-throated operatic life? Wagner’s operas have never been staged in the modern state of Israel, and the few public instrumental performances that have occurred have provoked much controversy.

Did I offer tacit tolerance of these artists’ horrific attitudes by reading these works and listening to this music? Some may say yes. In pre-Israel Palestine, Wagner’s music was banned by Jewish musicians after Kristallnacht, the Night of Broken Glass, the horrible anti-Jewish pogrom in 1938 that served as a tragic foreshadowing of the horrors to come in Nazi Germany.

The ban continued through the creation of the state of Israel until 2000 — and even now, when Wagner is proposed for the repertoire, protests follow. Just last year, a concert in Israel that included works by Wagner was announced and then canceled.

 

So what is my position on the Ender’s Game boycott? Mixed. Troubled. Concerned. But I have decided to go see it, in the same spirit in which I still read Dickens and Shakespeare, dig into Norse mythology, listen to Wagner. I do not judge anyone who makes a different decision; everyone’s journey and the rawness of his or her pain is different. My parents were too close to the Holocaust. My mother suffered too much from anti-Semitic taunts on the streets of New York during World War II. She suffered too many nightmares on too many nights after losing cousins, aunts, uncles and a grandmother to a fire the Nazis set to a synagogue, where they had herded all of the Jews in Bialystok before bolting the doors.

I feel that pain, but from a greater distance that allows me to separate the greatness of these artists from their terrible flaws. I confess, perhaps naively, to hoping that Card’s views may evolve as I learned Dickens’ did after his correspondence with Eliza Davis, a Jewish reader who told him that his depiction of Fagin encouraged “a vile prejudice.” Many credit her with inspiring Dickens’ subsequent creation of the kind and caring Jewish character Mr. Riah in Our Mutual Friend.

I also appreciate the strong language with which Lionsgate, the studio producing the film, has repudiated Card’s position on gay rights and has pledged to create an Ender’s Game benefit for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered community.

Card, 61, has known his own personal tragedy. He lost one of his five children, Charles, who had cerebral palsy, soon after the youth’s 17th birthday. He lost a little girl the day she was born. He suffered a stroke in 2011.

As a reader, I see the seeds for empathy in his books. He just needs to catch up personally to the ideas he expresses so eloquently in his fiction. I believe in believing in people. And I believe that when you believe in someone’s potential for goodness and change, then that person may start believing in it, too.

So, yes, I’m going to see Ender’s Game. I hope I will be doing the right thing. I hope I won’t be judged too harshly by those who disagree.

And I hope that one day soon, Card will be feeling and saying the right thing, too

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Ender’s Game author Orson Scott Card compares Obama to Hitler

Ok, I think Card’s doing everything he can to cause the movie to fail…

Per the UK Daily Guardian. Story written by: Ben Child

 

The sci-fi writer, who has already angered many with his views on same-sex marriage, expounds the comparison in a 3,000 word essay

 

Orson Scott Card

Essay crisis … Orson Scott Card

He has already upset many with his views on homosexuality. Now Orson Scott Card, author of the iconic source novel which forms the basis of upcoming sci-fi blockbuster Ender’s Game, has repeated the trick, and imagined a post-democratic USA in which the current president rules as an autocrat forever.

  1. Ender’s Game
  2. Production year: 2013
  3. Country: USA
  4. Directors: Gavin Hood
  5. Cast: Abigail Breslin, Asa Butterfield, Harrison Ford
  6. More on this film

In the essay, which was published on Card’s Civilisation Watch blog and titled “Unlikely Events”, the novelist posits a future where Obama rules as a “Hitler- or Stalin-style dictator” complete with his own “national police force” of “young out-of-work urban men”. He also suggests that Obama and his wife, Michelle, might amend the US constitution to allow presidents to remain in power forever before the next presidential election and would then “win by 98 percent every time”. Adds the author: “That’s how it works in Nigeria and Zimbabwe; that’s how it worked in Hitler’s Germany.”

Card labels the post “an experiment in fictional thinking,” adding: “Will these things happen? Of course not.” However, his work is unlikely to please executives at studio Lionsgate, already on the back foot over Ender’s Game after many – including gay group Geeks Out – highlighted Card’s opposition to same-sex marriage in the US and suggested film-goers might consider boycotting the upcoming movie based on his 1984 novel.

Card, a practising member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and key figure in the anti-gay National Organisation for Marriage, has been highly vocal on the issue for a number of years. His views, and the Geeks Out boycott, have seen him encouraged to stay away from promotional appearances to promote the Ender’s Game movie such as last month’s Comic-Con in San Diego. Lionsgate, meanwhile, has been at pains to flag up its equal rights credentials, issuing a statement describing the studio 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 recognised same-sex unions and domestic partnerships within its employee benefits policies for many years”. The studio added last month: “We obviously do not agree with the personal views of Orson Scott Card and those of the National Organisation for Marriage.”

Ender’s Game, which stars Asa Butterfield, Abigail Breslin, Hailee Steinfeld, Ben Kingsley and Harrison Ford, centres on a gifted child who is sent to a military school in space to prepare for an alien invasion. It is released in UK cinemas on 25 October, Australian cinemas on 31 October and US cinemas a day later.

 

 

‘Ender’s Game’ Movie News Update: Film Cast, Crew Attack Author’s Anti-Gay Stance

from Latinos Post

 

The forthcoming “Ender’s Game” movie is one of the most anticipated of the year, but it is slowly also becoming one of the most controversial.

The original source material’s author, Orson Scott Card, has been vocal about his disdain for gay marriage, spurring a great deal of gay rights activistvism against the film. The reaction forced the hand of the film’s participants, all of which spoke out against Card’s behavior.

 

“I’m a little distressed by his point of view on gay marriage,” said film director Gavin Hood. “However, the book is not about that issue. So I hope people can still appreciate the book because I think he wrote a great book, and the themes and ideas in the book, I think, are universal and timeless and applicable, and I hope the book will still be appreciated as a great work of art, even though I don’t agree with the author. I optioned the book, not an author, and I love what the author said in that book.”

“I think it’s slightly bitterly ironic that those themes that are present in the book are not carried through on his particular view on gay marriage,” he added, considering that the idea of equality is a major theme in the novel.

Harrison Ford, who stars in the film, also had a few choice words for Card.

“None of Mr. Card’s concerns regarding the issue of gay marriage are part of the thematics of this film… I think his views outside of those that we deal with in this film are not an issue for me to deal with, have really no opinion on that issue…. I am aware of his statements admitting that the question of gay marriage is a battle that he lost. He admits that he lost it,” Ford told fans at Comic-Con. “I think we all know that we’ve all won, that humanity has won, and I think that’s the end of the story.”

“Ender’s Game” is slated for a Nov. 1, 2013 release date. It stars Asa Butterfield, Ben Kingsley, Viola Davis, Hailee Steinfeld, and Abigail Breslin

Comic-Con: can Ender’s Game be saved by the incredible Orson Scott Card disappearing act?

As Lionsgate seeks to put distance between the anti-gay writer and its movie of his novel, the row underlines the need for film-makers to think more deeply about fans’ views

 

Per the UK Daily Guardian:

 

 

Comic-Con: Harrison Ford at the Ender's Game panel

Comic-Con: Harrison Ford at the Ender’s Game panel. Photograph: Denis Poroy/Invision/AP

They say all publicity is good publicity. If so, studio Lionsgate should be reaping the rewards from all the negative hype whirling around the repugnant views of Orson Scott Card, author of the novel upon which its upcoming science fiction movie Ender’s Game is based. Ever since gay rights group Geeks Out launched its campaign for a boycott of Gavin Hood’s film, whose stellar cast includes Harrison Ford, Britain’s brilliant Asa Butterfield, Hailee Steinfeld and Abigail Breslin, the noise surrounding the movie has been firmly about Card’s homophobic attitudes rather than the movie itself.

  1. Ender’s Game
  2. Production year: 2013
  3. Country: USA
  4. Directors: Gavin Hood
  5. Cast: Abigail Breslin, Asa Butterfield, Harrison Ford
  6. More on this film

Lionsgate’s reaction has been to pretend that Card is a figment of everybody else’s imagination, rather than the source of its own worst nightmares. As the Hollywood Reporter has pointed out, the science fiction writer’s name has been excised from pretty much all publicity surrounding the movie: he is no longer visible on Ender’s Game’s Facebook page, and barely gets a mention on the film’s trailer beyond a tiny two-second glimpse on the end title card.

Card was not present at the film’s appearance at Comic Con in San Diego last night, despite the panel for Lionsgate’s other teen-orientated sci-fi flick, Divergence, featuring source novel author Veronica Roth. Producer Robert Orci simply batted back questions about the controversy in the way Lionsgate has done since it erupted. “Rather than shy away from this, I would reiterate that we support LGBT rights, and human rights,” he said. The studio has promised to hold a fundraiser for gay causes and argued that its movie really has nothing to do with Card’s nasty views, which have been detailed by my colleague Andrew Wheeler over on Comment is Free.

Comic-Con: Harrison Ford and Asa Butterfield in Ender's GameHarrison Ford and Asa Butterfield in Ender’s GameThe problem here is that Card has been far from a hands-off figure in Ender’s Game’s gestation period. While the current screenplay, based on both Ender’s Game and parallel novel Ender’s Shadow, is credited to Hood alone, the Mormon author has written at least two scripts of his own over the past 15 years. He is listed as a producer on the film and is said to have refused Hollywood’s advances several times in the 1980s and 1990s due to creative differences. He even gets a voice cameo as a pilot in the movie.

That Lionsgate failed to pick up on Card’s increasing notoriety for all the wrong reasons over the couple of years in which it has been involved in the film ought to be a salutary lesson for Hollywood. In a universe in which fanboy cred seems to matter almost as much as box office results, making a movie based on the ideas of a guy who professes to hate a large portion of your key audience so much that he once said he wouldrather overthrow the United States government than tolerate gay marriage is a very bad call indeed.

Conversely, geek culture has always been notable for its tolerance. But Hollywood is fast learning that the fanboy brigade are not just a great slavering mass of wide-eyed chumps desperate to haemorrhage their hard-earned cash in the direction of the nearest multiplex. Sometimes, the geeks bite back, and woe betide those who are not prepared to listen.

It shows how far we have come that Card, who was arrogant enough to make that statement about gay marriage and the US government only four years ago, now mewls plaintively about “persecution” from “triumphant” proponents of equal rights in the wake of the US’s historic legal ruling last month. How irritating it must be for the author that his two-decade battle to bring his best known work to the big screen has been scuppered by the very people he finds most repugnant in this world – and how wonderfully ironic.

As a science fiction movie fan, I can’t help but feel a little disappointed that what might prove to be a rather decent example of the form is being overshadowed by the controversy surrounding Card. Should Lionsgate’s platitudes towards the LGBT community be accepted – the Oscar-winning writer of Milk, Dustin Lance Black, has proposed as much – I’d like to see the film do well. But if all that bad hype does doom the movie, and if studios take a little more care over who they choose to work with as a result, it may just have been worth it.

Lionsgate finally weighs in on the whole ‘Ender’s Game’ boycott

http://tinyurl.com/jw77zfe

 

 

The Public – a thing I cannot help looking upon as an enemy, and which I cannot address without feelings of hostility. – John Keats

Somewhere, deep in the heart of Lionsgate’s public relations department, there is a PR rep clutching a bottle of whiskey and mumbling that over and over again to her- or himself. The studio has been in a bit of a marketing nightmare regarding upcoming film Ender’s Game

, ever since LGBT groups remembered it was Orson Scott Card who penned the original novel, and that, considering he has spent his life actively campaigning against LGBT rights, it was their duty to start a boycott campaign against the film. For those who seem to be confused as to why the boycott is happening, it’s not a matter of hypocrisy or “being intolerant of intolerance” (as I have seen some people fallaciously argue), but a matter of LGBT people or activists not wanting their money in any way to go to a man who will then turn around and use that money to contribute to the National Organization for Marriage or other groups that work to strip gay rights, among other things. It’s a personal choice. 

Regardless of how you feel about the issue, it has become exactly that for Lionsgate: An issue. And so the studio has finally weighed in on the controversy, releasing an official statement over the weekend:

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.

All of that is to be expected. It’s a fairly generic response: Distance yourself from the controversy, offer an olive branch, but remain noncommittal either way. What does surprise me, however, was that Lionsgate seemed to be blindsided by the entire fiasco in the first place, especially considering the current sociopolitical climate.

But removing the moral and political controversy from it entirely, will you see the film? Does the trailer fill you with the warm fuzzies of excitement, or leave you cold? Sound off in the comments.

Ender’s Game, starring Asa ButterfieldHarrison FordBen Kingsley, and Abigail Breslin, hits theaters on November 1st.

Ender’s Game faces backlash over author Orson Scott Card’s anti-gay views

In the essence of transparency, I’m neither for or against homosexuals. Sometimes I think people on both sides are being far too militant over the entire thing. So, the purpose of the post is to point out the controversy swirling and why authors are best keeping their views to themselves sometimes.

 Science-fiction writer Orson Scott Card is leading opponent of same-sex marriage

per the Independent

SUNDAY 14 JULY 2013

Could the Ender’s Game boycott actually sink the movie?

k-bigpic

 

http://io9.com/could-the-enders-game-boycott-actually-tank-the-movie-749408769

 

Usually when people organize a boycott of a big Hollywood movie, you sort of assume they’ll barely make a dent. But with Ender’s Game, it actually seems somewhat possible that the fan boycott of the film could generate enough static to keep the studio from getting the word out.

A bit of backstory: Ender’s Game is a classic 1985 novel by Orson Scott Card, about a war between humans and insectoid aliens, known as the Formics or “Buggers.” The book has won tons of awards, and is considered a major classic of the genre. In the nearly three decades since writing Ender’s Game, Card has established himself as a leading critic of same-sex marriage, and has advocated for laws against homosexuality.

Over the years, Card’s homophobic views have caused an uproar — most notably when he wrote a weird gay-baiting version of Shakespeare’s Hamlet and when the artist on his Superman comic quit to avoid controversy over his views.

But it wasn’t until recently, with a huge budget movie of Ender’s Game coming this fall, that Card’s opinions on homosexuality have become more of an issue. A group called Geeks OUT has started a campaign called Skip Ender’s Game on the grounds that if you buy a ticket to the movie, you’re putting money in Card’s pockets. This boycott was already getting a lot of attention, when Card threw gasoline on the fire by issuing a bizarre statement claiming that homosexuality wasn’t an issue in 1985, and boycotting his work is a sign of intolerance.

All of which makes me wonder: Is this controversy going to make it hard to get mainstream audiences to pay attention to the film? To be successful, an Ender’s Gamefilm has to reach beyond fans of the books, and if the movie is remotely close to the subject matter of the book, then there are going to be some themes and ideas that will freak out a lot of mainstream audiences. Reading from this book has already gotten one middle-school teacher in trouble.

Even by itself, a movie about space seems to be a hard sell these days — and we’ve seen plenty of other similar movies lose out lately, because mainstream movie audiences just couldn’t get interested in them. So it seems entirely possible that the mainstream media will be too busy debating Card’s views, and moviegoers will come away with a vague sense that this is a movie about gay-bashing. (The fact that the aliens are called “Buggers” probably does not help.) In today’s crowded movie marketplace, it seems like you have a brief chance to get people’s attention and sell them on your film — and if there’s any narrative out there that confuses the issue, you’re probably doomed.

If that does happen, of course, it won’t be the boycott organizers’ fault — it’ll be Card’s. He absolutely has the right to express unpopular or extreme views, but he also has to take the consequences. He wouldn’t be the first artist whose work was ignored or marginalized because of extremist political opinions, and in this case it’s hard to feel sorry. On the other hand, this could be another nail in the coffin of us getting interesting, challenging space opera on the big screen.

As to whether you should join the boycott — that’s absolutely a personal decision, and probably depends on how much you’re able to separate the author from his work. There are some pretty good thoughts on the subject in this comment from dlomax, however.

Lionsgate responds to calls for ‘Ender’s Game’ boycott

Per USAToday.com

 

Lindsay Deutsch, USA TODAY5:09 p.m. EDT July 12, 2013

 

Studio does not support author Orson Scott Card’s anti-gay stance but says it has nothing to do with the film.

 

Lionsgate is responding to what could be a potentially potent publicity problem for its upcoming fall sci-fi blockbuster, Ender’s Game.

Calls to boycott the film have popped up online because Orson Scott Card, the author of the 1985 book series Ender’s Game on which the movie is based, is publicly anti-gay and anti-same-sex marriage. The movie, starring Harrison Ford, is due out on Nov. 1.

“As proud longtime supporters of the LGBT community, champions of films ranging from Gods and Monsters to The Perks of Being a Wallflowerand 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,” Lionsgate wrote in a statement. The studio pledged to host a benefit premiere for Ender’s Gamesupporting LGBT causes.

Recently, a group called Geeks OUT released its plans to boycott Ender’s Game, distributing a quote Card wrote in 1990 advocating “laws against homosexual behavior should remain on the books,” and exposing his role as a board member of the anti-same-sex marriage organization National Organization for Marriage.

On Monday, Card released a statement to Entertainment Weekly, saying, “With the recent Supreme Court ruling, the gay marriage issue becomes moot… 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.”

Statements from both Lionsgate and Card reiterate that the stance has nothing to do with Ender’s Game, which is about child soldiers in space.

“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 wrote in the statement.

It’s not the first time that Card has come under fire for his anti-gay beliefs. In March,DC Comics caused fan furor for choosing Card to contribute to its Adventures of Superman anthology. A petition garnered more than 18,000 signatures, and the illustrator of the series, Chris Sprouse, left the project because of the controversy.