November 6, 2013 at 4:20 pm EST | by guest columnist
Filmgoers should boycott ‘Ender’s Game’
Ender's Game, Orson Scott Card, gay news, Washington Blade

‘Ender’s Game’ (Official movie poster)


The much-anticipated film “Ender’s Game” has finally been released. What I’m hoping to see are lots of empty theater seats, rather than a rush to the theaters. Why the antipathy for a much lauded book coming to film? Because I am a firm believer in the old adage “With every dollar you spend you are casting a vote for the kind of world you want.”

The world that I want to live in doesn’t have anything to do with the world Orson Scott Card wrote about in Ender’s Game. It’s much, much closer to home and something that would be better for all of us. The kind of world that I want is one where everyone is treated with respect, everyone has the same rights and freedoms and people respect one another’s decisions. This is not a world that Card wants to be a part of here in “the real world” (or in his book for that matter).

Card is on the board of directors of the National Organization for Marriage. NOM is the same organization that the Southern Poverty Law Center has classified as a hate group. The SLPC has been instrumental in public education and legal representation against all sorts of hate groups, including the Ku Klux Klan, white supremacists, neo-Confederates, racist music groups, Holocaust deniers and many more. These obviously aren’t groups that people with a rational worldview seek out. If you truly respect others, you don’t have any need for affiliations with groups like the KKK, Aryan Nations or the Westboro Baptist Church. Card, on the other hand, champions the efforts of NOM and believes that “the homosexual agenda” is something to fight.

He actively campaigns against marriage equality. He advocates that sodomy laws should be kept on the books in America to punish gays. He’s claimed that gay people are self-loathing victims of child abuse. He doesn’t stop there, though, arguing that gay marriage “marks the end of democracy in America,” homosexuality is a “tragic genetic mix up” and that allowing courts to redefine marriage to include same-sex couples is a slippery slope into gay rule and that anyone who does not agree with gay marriage will be categorized as “mentally ill.”

Say what?

We can skip the paranoid gay conspiracies Card sees all around. What I don’t think we should skip is the fact that Card actively advocates for people to not have rights that he himself enjoys. This not only makes him a bigot but a hypocritical one as well. Although marriage equality and getting everyone on an even playing field within the law would not affect him personally, Card feels the need to go out of his way to make sure no one but his specific brand of people get to enjoy the rights he does. Is it heterocentric? Homophobic? Prejudiced? Bigoted? Yes, yes, yes and yes.

Do we really want to be giving our money to someone who campaigns for inequality, stratification of people according to his personal morals and laws that criminalize love? Do we want to line the pockets of someone that donates to a hate group? By spending money on this film, or his book, or any other Card works, we’re casting a vote for a world in which the rights of gay people are not only nonexistent, but gay people are criminalized. We’re voting for a world that is dependent on one man’s extreme views; views that are hateful, spiteful, ignorant and demeaning. A sci-fi film might look alluring, but to boycott “Ender’s Game” sends a message that we are not complacent. Seeing “Ender’s Game” supports hate, oppression, stigmatization and bigotry. Let’s stand up for what we know is right and steer clear of contributing to Card’s coffers.

Konrad Juengling is attending Portland State University for post-baccalaureate work in psychology. His goal is to work with juvenile sex offenders.

  • A great book by a terrible man… Fortunately there's no need to boycott because Card isn't seeing a penny from ticket sales. He sold the rights long ago.

  • I wasn’t particularly drawn to the Ender’s Game trailer anyway, so this is certainly not a plug for the movie. Look, I am a black American, approaching my 60th year. If I were to boycott the artistic or, for that matter, intellectual work of anyone who thought people of African descent inferior or merely acquiesced in their oppression, I would be left with a very meager list of works. There is always something to glean from honest human endeavor, which is always such a bizarre mix of the foul and the grand, and the mysterious. Even flagrant liars are illuminating. Censorship is never, ever a good thing. And no one who has ever lived through a dark, low time — in my case, the 1980’s — is ambiguous about that principle.

  • I don’t agree with boycotting, banning or destroying artworks because of the creator’s politics. That goes for the Nazis ban of “degenerate art” all the way to Bob Dole condemning the film “Priest” (which he had not seen). That doesn’t mean individuals can’t make the call based on their own opinions – my mother, for one, had a hard time staying a fan of Catholic performers once they divorced, though she wasn’t so strict with non-Catholics. Fitzgerald’s understanding of homosexuality was limited to prejudice of his day: the “invert”, the weak, the developmentally arrested, the “unmanly.” He’s a great writer anyway. His potential greatness as a person was marred by other flaws in addition to his bigotry. As to Card, the author of Ender’s Game, he has turned into something of a radical ranter, in the 30-odd years since he wrote it. He declares global warming a hoax; he is radically anti-Obama. He’s been anti-gay marriage. An admirer of Card’s work, though not of his recent blather, Rany Jazayerli writes that “at some point, he took a drive down Conspiracy Lane and got lost. If Card wasn’t getting so much attention for being a homophobe, people would be talking about how he’s turning into a kook.” And Jazayerli nears the windup of his thoughtful article (link below) thus: “No, the main reason boycotting Ender’s Game is counterproductive is that the theme of the story itself is the best repudiation of everything for which Card has come to stand.” Thanks to the publicity the film has received, I want to see it.

  • I enjoyed the movie, despite the author of the source material being a bigot. I have enjoyed other movies whose directors behaved appallingly (Woody Allen) or criminally (Roman Polanski) in their private lives. I generally dislike boycotts, as I dislike the policing of other people’s dining or entertainment choices. Let us not allow our zeal for justice to make boors of us.

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