Tolerance For Intolerance: Boycotting Ender’s Game

Ender’s Game is one of my favorite books from high school.

The movie looks pretty rad.

I love Harrison Ford.

I like shiny things and smart science-fiction.

And yet, I’m not going to go see Ender’s Game.

Orson Scott Card has toxic politics shot through with not merely a thread but a full-on threaded steel cable of bigotry and ignorance. And so, I’m gonna boycott the film. Now, to clarify, I’m not saying you should or have to do the same. You do as you like. No harm, no foul.

But I thought I’d highlight why I’m gonna boycott.

First, I don’t want to reward bigotry. Particularly financially.

Second, it is safe to assume OSC spends his money on supporting this ignorance and bigotry given that he serves the National Organization for Marriage (which, benevolent as it sounds, is more about defining and limiting marriage than it is about Yay Marriage For Everybody). This is a pretty good sum-up of his toxic politics — and it’s worth noting that he equates homosexuality with genetic error and the “end of democracy,” though at the same time seems to believe that homosexuality’s, erm, origin story is one tied in with rape and molestation at a young age. This is venomous shit, and I don’t want to pay him to sling it.

Third, yes, OSC has almost certainly gotten paid for the film already. An author of his magnitude may very well have escalators that pay him more if the film does well. Further, if the film does well, then they will likely pay him to make more films from his other books. A success for this film raises his star higher, and for me, that is more than a little queasy-making.

Fourth, the division of art versus the artist is to my mind thinner than we think. I say that as a writer — I find myself hiding in my writing more often than I’d suspect or even like. Just the same, I do believe that we must be able to separate out an artist from his art — at least in the sense of being willing to appreciate art despite the apparent jerkiness of the author or artist. Still, what OSC supports isn’t just him being a jerk: like I said, this is some high-octaine toxicity. This isn’t just him being anti-gay marriage. It’s him making troubling assertions about homosexuality. It’s him supporting that with his money. It’s him being an active political figure and fighting against human rights with his voice, his art, and his money.

Fifth, we’re not exactly lacking for brilliant art and powerful reading material. It’d be one thing if we had, like, ten good books or movies out there — but we have a wealth of beautiful and moving art available to us. And so not going to see Ender’s Game won’t somehow damage the canon, it won’t change the face of art, it won’t remove us from the cultural stream and fail to give us something to talk about at parties. We’ve got a lot of good books and movies to watch without having to support this canker-rimmed asshole at the same time.

Sixth, when asked about the boycott, his response includes:

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.

That’s him doubling down and saying, “You need to tolerate my intolerance.” Which is a classic derailing tactic that smells so strongly of horseshit that when he says it I wonder if I’m actually living inside a horse’s ass. Just because we elected Obama president doesn’t mean I have to tolerate racism. Bigoted ignorant fuck-all is still bigoted ignorant fuck-all.

The movie may still be a rampant blockbuster. The lack of my movie dollars may not make one whit of difference (and given what we saw with Chik-Fil-A, it’s actually safe to assume the opposite of a boycott will occur — right-wing homophobes flocking to the theater to cheer on Ender Scott Wiggins Card as in their minds he eradicates whole planets of little gay bugs).

Still, I won’t pitch my chits and ducats into this bucket.