Geeks Out, which “rallies, empowers, and promotes the queer geek community.” (I hadn’t heard of that project, but it sounds awesome!) The story got picked up by the Huffington Post, which acts as a bullhorn for causes and trends both good and bad.
Why the boycott? Although Ender’s Game is not about gay marriage (I see some homophobic subtext in there, but that might just be me), author Orson Scott Card, a Mormon, was on the board of the National Organization for Marriage, which supports straight marriages but not gay ones. Geeks Out have a selection (cherry-picked? I don’t know) of quotes from Card about what constitutes a “real” marriage. Warning: the quotes are intensely disturbing, especially the one in which he seems to be threatening to overthrow the American government.
In the wake of the boycott’s increased publicity, Card, who has run into problems before (as when an artist refused to collaborate on a Superman comic with him on account of his views) issued 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.
Lionsgate, the studio making the film, has also issued a statement in response to the boycott, the press, and Card’s statement, emphasizing their commitment to making LGBT-friendly films. They also stated that “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 [sic] these views in any way, shape or form.”
Whew! So that’s what happened…and I’m not sure where I stand on it. I enjoyed Ender’s Game despite knowing the author’s political views, which I do not share. As the New York Times pointed out, 667 people worked on the film, and we’re getting upset about just one person’s views.
I do, however, tend to be pragmatic about these things, to the point that I got likened to a Communist earlier this spring because I watch, review, and enjoy The Vampire Diaries, yet am not afraid to point out its occasionally sexist undertones. As I said then, I admit without shame that I often read or watch works by authors whose politics don’t line up with my own: Dickens and Dante are two good examples. Reading/watching + enjoying ≠ concurring. Just because I enjoy watching something doesn’t mean I’m required to gag myself and praise it wholeheartedly.
Moreover, I’m not sure that boycotting Ender’s Game helps the cause of equal rights. The boycott would send a strong financial message if it is successful (which it probably won’t be). Yet since that message is directed at Card, not the film, it feels a bit like an ad hominem attack—going after the man rather than the product. Do we want to do that? Is vilification the way to increase tolerance? Or is my reaction exactly the reaction Card wanted to provoke in using the language he does in his statement (“it will be interesting to see whether the victorious proponents of gay marriage will show tolerance..”)?
But gay marriage and equal rights are issues that hit me on both sides: my plush and squishy liberal left side, and my grommet-studded cowboy-libertarian right side. Equal rights for all—what liberal doesn’t love that? Fewer laws restricting personal relationships—what libertarian worth her salt wants the government to intrude into our private lives more?
While my left and right sides are in happy agreement about gay marriage (and marveling at that strange occurrence), my geek side and my feminist side are at war over the boycott: do I support the cause and miss out on a great film? Or do I rationalize my way to the theater and take pleasure in something that I know I will enjoy, when denying myself that pleasure would be such a simple, if small, political statement?
What do you all think?