Orson Scott Card has been a homophobe for decades. What he has not been is a movie producer.
With the release of the remake of his popular 1985 book Ender’s Game as a major motion picture, his long held homophobic views are coming back to bite him. Geeks OUT, a gay rights organization, has launched a campaign to boycott the movie.
Ender’s Game is a brilliant book, and the movie looks like it will be epic, but given the choice between taking a stand on a human rights issue and seeing the major sci-fi action adventure flick, the decision is pretty easy for me.
For background, Ender’s Game is Card’s most acclaimed and widely popular piece of literature. The book, released in 1985, tells the story of a child genius, Ender Wiggin, who is taken into space to train at a special military school and is groomed to become the commander of the Earth’s fleets in the upcoming war between the insect-like alien race, the Formics (or Buggers).
Featured prominently on Geeks OUT's boycott website is a quote that Orson Scott Card gave to Sunstone Magazine in 1990:
“Laws against homosexual behavior should remain on the books, not to be indiscriminately enforced against anyone who happens to be caught violating them, but to be used when necessary to send a clear message that those who flagrantly violate society's regulation of sexual behavior cannot be permitted to remain as acceptable, equal citizens within that society.”
So far as the public can tell, Card's stance has not shifted in the 23 years since. He is still outspokenly against homosexuality and is even a board member of the National Organization for Marriage. It's the primary anti-marriage organization in state fights and came under criticism most recently for defending so-called conversion therapy as a religious right.
This is not the first time that Card’s openly homophobic views impacted his career. Card was initially hired by D.C. Comics to write the digital-first Adventures of Superman comic. Media backlash at the company's choice to hire an outspokenly homophobic writer eventually motivated collaborating artist Chris Sprouse to back out of the project and forced D.C. Comics to feature a story by Jeff Lemire and artist Chris Samnee instead of Card's.
Now we have the opportunity to act against the homophobic author again, but would it really do any good? If the D.C. Comics incident is any example, then yes, it would.
A movie about a war in space is hardly unique these days, and Summit Entertainment already has a challenge differentiating this space movie from all of the others. If the movie gets swarmed by a media scandal, then movie-goers might be deterred by the belief that it is a faintly homophobic movie and spend their money elsewhere.
More importantly, though, if two of Card’s projects are tanked as a result of his homophobic view in one year, then the author is likely to be considered a risk for other projects, which means less money in his pockets and less money that he then donates to antigay organizations like NOM. Already, lead actor Asa Butterfield and the film's director, Gavin Hood, worked to distance themselves from Card’s homophobic views in an interview for the Associated Press.
Of course, there is the question of tolerance — should we set a good example by refraining from a witch hunt against homophobes? I do believe that everyone is entitled to political beliefs, but the issue is not Card’s personal held beliefs. It's the hate speech that he has propagated as a result of his views. If you are going to say hateful and inflammatory things about a subgroup of the population, then you must be willing to accept the consequences.
So, though Card has a right to my tolerance (I will not throw bricks through his window, I promise), he is not entitled to my financial support.
It breaks my heart to have to find out the ugly truth behind a book that I loved as a kid. But this November 1, I will not be going to see Ender’s Game. If I find myself looking for something to do that night, maybe I will stop by one of the “Skip Ender’s Game” parties that Geeks OUT is hosting in Chicago, Dallas, New York, Orlando, Seattle, and Toronto. Or if I'm in another city, maybe I will skip the two to three hours of entertainment and go “donate” my money to a gay bar that night.
REBECCA HOLLIMAN is a author and editor of beccatheblogger.com and works as a freelance writer in Sacramento, California.