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Ender's Game: Does Orson Scott Card's homophobia matter? - SciFiNow - The World's Best Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror Magazine

Ender’s Game: Does Orson Scott Card’s homophobia matter?

Geeks OUT want you to Skip Ender’s Game over the author’s homophobia, but why should you?

Asa Butterfield as Ender Wiggen in Ender's Game
Asa Butterfield as Ender Wiggen in Ender’s Game

The controversy surrounding Ender’s Game finally exploded into the mainstream in the run up to the SF classic’s big screen release, with star Harrison Ford directly addressing the matter at San Diego Comic-Con, and studio Lionsgate affirming a pro-LGBT stance.

The root cause though isn’t Harrison Ford or Lionsgate, it’s the strident homophobia original author Orson Scott-Card, so why is this a problem, and is there anything inherently homophobic about the film itself?

We spoke to Geeks OUT founding member and originator of the Skip Ender’s Game campaign Jono to understand why many view Ender’s Game as a problem in itself…

What was the catalyst for Skip Ender’s Game?

I had seen advanced press for the adaptation in the spring of 2012 and was incensed and inspired enough to write an editorial piece for our website, geeksout.org, called “Don’t See Ender’s Game.”

Prior to this I had been in a few Facebook arguments with friends, all sci-fi fans, over whether we as proud and happy gay men could in good conscience buy Card’s books or recommend them. My stance, as it is now, is that regardless of their quality (I find them overrated), the stark truth is that buying Card’s books, and, now, buying tickets to the movie, directly subsidises his anti-gay activism and is that really where you want your money going.

So many queer geeks and sci-fi lovers had no idea of Card’s very damaging and offensive rhetoric, his long association with the National Organization for Marriage, and the extreme, conservative religious agenda he promotes. I imagined him and Lionsgate laughing behind the scenes as gay fans queued up to line the pockets of someone who’s said the worst things imaginable about us and our rights, and we decided to do something about that.

Are Orson Scott Card’s beliefs regarding gay marriage reflected in any way in Ender’s Game?

I guess that depends on whom you ask. The book itself is rife with a lot of fuzzy content on gender and sexuality, some of it overtly homoerotic, according to many readers and critics. Can we completely ignore the fact that the evil invaders are called “Buggers”? With that said, however, this is really about the money, not about the content of the film or the book. If Lionsgate were giving away free tickets to Ender’s Game, I don’t think we’d be in this same situation, because then our queer dollars wouldn’t be going to support the man who advocated the criminalisation of homosexuality.

One of the Skip Ender's Game banners
One of the Skip Ender’s Game banners

What’s your response to the argument that Ender’s Game, the movie, is a completely separate proposition from Ender’s Game, the book, and shouldn’t be held accountable for the author?

Frankly I think that’s naive rationalisation on the part either of Lionsgate, who needs the film to be profitable, or people who don’t want to confront their principles. We’re not talking about Wagner, who while anti-Semitic is long dead.

Card is active, some of his most anti-gay writings come from the past 5 or 10 years and gay rights continues to be the civil rights issue of our generation. Also, what do you think it is that enables Card to pursue this agenda? The comfortable income that his books and, now, the movie and ancillary profits will bring him.

I certainly don’t want to contribute to the personal fortune of someone who alleges that I’m gay because I was molested or raped as a child, and only want the right to marry because it’s a half-measure to approximate a normal, heterosexual relationship—and I think a lot of people would agree with us.

How do you respond to the argument that Orson Scott Card is entitled to his beliefs?

I’d say that his beliefs and my (and your) money are two entirely different things and I am well within my rights NOT to buy whatever he’s selling because of those beliefs and the very real actions they inspire.

Another banner from Skip Ender's Game, taking one of Orson Scott-Card's statements on homosexuality
Another banner from Skip Ender’s Game, shwocases one of Orson Scott-Card’s statements

Do you think the studio and the filmmakers have addressed the issue well or poorly?

Overall, poorly. By bringing the facts, the truth of what Card has said, done, and what he stands for out into the light, we really changed the narrative Lionsgate was trying to create for this movie.

Their very late-in-the-day affirmations of gay rights and good feelings for LGBT people could’ve happened at any time, but they only addressed the monster in the room after we pointed it out.

It’s very generous of them to pledge to hold some sort of benefit for the LGBT community and I’ll bet many Hollywood-associated LGBT groups have watched what Geeks OUT has accomplished and will be right there to receive whatever monies Lionsgate donates, but, again, they could’ve done that before we called them out. In no way are we suggesting that Lionsgate itself is an anti-gay company, but the fact remains they’re cutting a very large check to and hoping to profit handsomely from the work of a notorious homophobe.

How could they have handled it better?

I bet they’re asking themselves the same thing. This was a PR disaster.

If you could say one thing to SciFiNow readers, for them to bear in mind while deciding whether or not to see Ender’s Game, what would it be?

Before anyone parts with hard-earned money, he or she should make themselves aware of just where that money goes and what it supports. There are many, many ways to SEE Ender’s Game that won’t financially support one of the LGBT community’s most vocal enemies; the most they demand is a little patience. Lionsgate and Orson Scott Card want the film to be successful enough to warrant a sequel, which is another multimillion-dollar payday for Card.

Do SciFiNow readers want to personally add to the fortune of someone who publicly calls gay rights a laughable con job, someone who who actively promotes the idea that anyone who lives a queer life is suffering under a tragic sexual dysfunction and needs to stop? I didn’t think so.

Find out more about Skip Ender’s Game at SkipEndersGame.com and Geeks OUT at GeeksOut.org. Ender’s Game is in cinemas 1 November 2013.