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.

173 responses to “Tolerance For Intolerance: Boycotting Ender’s Game”

  1. I somehow missed reading Ender’s Game until grad school. I…didn’t like it very much. I was already somewhat aware of Card’s politics, so maybe that colored my view of it. But his passive-aggressive, “tolerate my intolerance” statement he made makes me want to see the movie EVEN LESS. What a massive tool he is. Screw him, his book, and the movie that was made of it.

  2. I just read the book for the first time, at the insistence of my husband. Needless to say, I was surprised at the tenderness and affection between Ender and Alai, it was almost… dare I say… homoerotic? I’m torn as well. He gives me the creeps, but he’s an amazing writer. Too bad.

  3. Totally understand where you’re coming from on this (and agree with you on the substance – OSC’s opinions are toxic) but the problem here is the magnitude – if we begin to take the position that we will boycott all art composed by jerks (and let’s be honest, that is a fairly significant percentage of it) or by companies that have “issues” of one variety or another (and let me assure you that comprises a great many of the ones who produce things all of us love) then we are going to be reducing our intake of good material by a significant margin, and screwing over all of the non-jerks who also get paid because of the success of any of these jerk-inspired works. Now, obviously there is a line here that no one can/should cross (“Triumph of the Will,” say) but given how many great authors, directors, producers, screenwriters, actors (you can go down the list) are really awful people, is this an approach likely to lead to a positive result for the culture? Make no mistake, I’m struggling with it too — I don’t want someone to take my dollars and use them to hurt other people. But that happens EVERY SINGLE DAY unless I pretty much stick to subsistence farming and my bike. Everyone has to do what makes them comfortable, of course, but I feel like this may be the easy call. Maybe see the movie but then contribute the ticket price to a marriage equality charity?

    • In this case, though, OSC is not being “a jerk,” he’s opposing equal rights for a specific group of people. That’s not the same as being rude. However you want to let that affect your decision to partake in his art is up to you — but it’s not the same as not listening to Beethoven because Ludwig had a short temper.

    • Awful in what way? If these actors, directors, producers, artists are insufferable pricks, and that was it, then separating between art and artist is easy. If they are insufferable pricks who are openly racist, homophobic, etc, then I’m very to not view their art, or at the very least, view it and not highly regarding it.

      • Sexually harassing? Race profiling for roles? What is the line between being an insufferable prick and being a [define type of hateful behavior here]?

        • Being unable to take stands on *everything* doesn’t mean you can’t take a stand on egregious and obvious things.

          There are many racist, sexist homophobes working in the entertainment industry spreading their foul toxin like a plague. I can’t boycott all of them, as is said. But if now and again we boycott one of the most obvious and disgusting examples, we can ease the problem.

          The fact the problem is too widespread to do something about immediately does not excuse us from doing what we can.

    • Ezra Pound was a Fascist. Jackson Pollock was a drunk who beat up women. The racism and homophobia in Raymond Chandler’s work is pervasive. Yet I don’t boycott them.

      • Entirely reasonable. That said, this is far easier when we have distance from them. Or more to the point, when they’re dead and not still hanging around polluting the world with their toxins.

        • That’s a fair point – it’s one thing to deal with artists who are dead than artists who continue to be a force for evil or good. But again, we know about a lot more bad people/companies/institutions than just OSC, and I suspect that it will do more to make him a martyr than to aid the cause of marriage equality. I say donate money equal to the ticket price to marriage equality charities – that way the other people who work on a film (and get paid a hell of a lot less than OSC) will still benefit, while cancelling out his benefit.

        • While I agree with your sentiment, I think you are being a little shortsighted, Chuck. It is doubtful any boycott will harm OSC, after all, he has probably already been paid for his work. But what about all those people that are working on the film. Not just the director and actors, who in some cases have a choice whose films they appear in, but what about the runners, the caterers, the cameramen/women, gaffers, foley artists and extremely long list of other folk (some of whom are bound to be gay themselves) whose careers are relying on a film like this being successful. If you wanted to boycott OSC’s novels that’s fine; the only person you’ll hurt are OSC and his publishers, but a political boycott of a movie will hurt a lot more people than the target of your angst, most of whom are working on this project for what it is – a great story, which they hope to turn into a great movie. Hell, as others have pointed out, if you boycott art because you don’t agree with the artists views, you are not going to watch many movies, read many books or see much TV. And if you work in the industry and refuse to work on such projects, you are going to spend many years claiming welfare.

          • I would be very interested to hear Chuck’s reply to this because I feel you bring up a very, very valid point. How does hurting all those other people help the cause?

          • The people making the film likely all got paid to do it and won’t be harmed by it not doing blockbuster numbers.

            Your other points, I address in the post. OSC likely has profit escalators, a blockbuster film will mean more money for him as more books will be made into films, I’m not boycotting based purely on his views so much as I’m not putting money in his hands so he can go spend it on shitty politics. Etc. etc. etc.

            Further, as it turns out, my bookshelves are *filled* with books by authors who are not total shitbirds and who also don’t spend their cash on hateful causes.

            — c.

      • You’re right that there have been many horrible people who have created things of enduring value to our society. But as awful as the people you cite were, there are two things that make it different. One, of course, is that they were products of their times. Doesn’t excuse it, perhaps, since there were people who were ahead of their times as well. But it does make it a bit more explicable that someone who has racist, sexist or homophobic views in this day and age. The other, of course, is that OSC is still alive, and he’s actively campaigning to deprive a group of people their rights. The three you mention can not do this with any money I spend on their work, obviously, since they are dead. We can’t solve every problem with boycotts, and we can’t boycott everything or everyone associated with injustice, but I don’t think it’s wrong to choose some battles at least.

  4. I’ve never read the book. I was in a movie theater a little while ago when the preview came on and was all “Holy shit, this looks kind of awesome.” And then the title comes up and I’m all “Oh. Dang. Nevermind.”

  5. Forwarding this on to my friend in South Africa, who is entertainment editor for a major national newspaper there and a huge sci-fi/fantasy fan. It might make for an interesting review and commentary, I think.

  6. Jeff Zentner summed it up pretty well on Twitter this morning: “Orson Scott Victim Card”.

    I don’t know if I’m going to boycott. Ender’s Game had, IIRC, only one homophobic exchange. So, he kept most of that foulness out. That makes it easier to separate the art from the artist, in this case at least.

    The idea of going still makes me queasy, though. It just feels like the wrong thing to do.

  7. The one time I said I was uncomfortable enjoying Ender’s Game because of Card’s views (and yeah, that’s about all I said), I got a 3,000 word hate-screed thrown at my face.

    So, you know. Brace yourself.

  8. Ender’s Game blew my mind when I read it many (too many to count) years ago, and even if my opinion isn’t as well formed and articulate as yours, I am right with you. I am not going to see the movie, nor do I feel overly interested in it.
    I even feel just a little nugget of shame, that I once thought Orson Scott Card to be a great writer. Not because he isn’t, he is, but because I don’t understand or want to understand how such a great story could come out of a man like him.
    I tend to feel a certain kindship with the writer of a great book I have read, and have also felt this with OSC, and I desperately want to disown it, now that I know what vitriol he is also spewing into the world.
    Perhaps it is a little shallow to equal the greatness of a book with how much you agree with the personal opinions of the author, but I can’t help it. He is officially off my Admire list.

    • I’m in the same boat as you. A few years ago I read Street Magic and was very impressed not only that he wrote it but at his depictions of PoC in the book. Ive never read Ender’s Game nor have ever felt the urge to do so. Right now I’m attempting to finish up The Gate Thief. (Got it from the library.) I never knew about his politics until this year. I’m still not going to buy his books but now I’m not sure how I feel about reading them at all .

    • “I even feel just a little nugget of shame, that I once thought Orson Scott Card to be a great writer.”

      As a slight tangent from this, I remember my great delight, after figuring out what a shitshow Scientology was, trying to read Mission Earth and finding the writing utterly abysmal.

    • “I don’t understand or want to understand how such a great story could come out of a man like him.”

      This is exactly, precisely on point – except that I DO want to understand. When he’s not focusing on sneaking vitriol into his stories, Card writes with tremendous imagination and empathy. How could someone like that be so lacking in empathy in his non-artistic life? It’s baffling.

      • I am usually fiercely driven by the need to understand, but in this case, if I do learn to understand his hate, partially or completely, then I’m afraid that I will accept it. And I’d rather be angry and outraged by it.

        • I totally understand the fear, but I have a feeling that you’re probably selling yourself short. It’s very, very difficult to have empathy for someone and yet COMPLETELY disagree, but it’s possible. I guess I have this hope that if I can understand the causes and seeds of hate, then I have a chance to change it.

          • I see your point Liz, and maybe I am selling myself short.
            In my vain hope that he’d shifted his views since he’d written Ender’s Game (so I could loose that nagging sense of shame I admit), I read up on him. His hate is old, precedes Ender’s Game… I don’t know. I doubt we’ll ever change his mind. I am more concerned about the new generations that learn from him or his peers.

  9. Thanks for laying it out for us. Everyone’s talking about it without explaining. And I only had a vague inkling. Now I know why. Never read the book. Not going to see the movie.

  10. I never read “Ender’s Game” in my youth – yes, I fail at many things literature – but I recently picked up a copy on Kindle and am now more anxious to read it for its “hidden” layers.

    There’s a query in my mind about this, though; a paradox, if you will. If we don’t wish to support the bigotry of the artist, yet wish to be properly educated on their work and its under-lying themes, how do we go about that? It seems counterproductive to either goal. I want to be educated in my opinion to this man’s work, but if he truly is a back-woods bigot I don’t want to be among those that support him.

    Yet, at the same time, supporting an artist’s work, despite our misgivings towards their personal philosophies, could severely limit us in our understanding of the greater world. For instance, I believe that Jeremy Irons is a brilliant actor and I enjoy almost every movie I’ve seen him in. Yet, when I heard his stance on gay marriage and his personal philosophies – really bizarre shit, by the way – I was staggered by it and upset. Does this mean I should boycott “The Lion King”? I don’t know. But it seems a stretch to limit ourselves of an art simply because of one aspect of the grand scheme.

    The other thing about going to see “Ender’s Game” is that you’re not supporting great actors like Ben Kingsley, Harrison Ford and Asa Butterfield, or those folks that work tirelessly on the CGI, cinematography, etc.

    I understand not wanting to support the main source of the material, but this is bigger than this one rusty, ignorant cog in this machine. But that’s just me.

    • You raise a good point about the other worthy artists involved there — but they have likely already been paid for their work and you wouldn’t be supporting them with your movie ticket anyway. They will likely go on to work on different films (and maybe even win awards for their work in EG — quite possible even if the movie tanks). The point is whether you want to support the person who stands the most to gain from the movie, in terms of name recognition, book sales, etc. resulting in a bigger public platform to argue against equal rights to gays and lesbians.

  11. I also loved the book back before I realized just how awful the author was. I think they’ll probably do a good job with the movie, too. But I won’t be giving them my money to see it. If he were just an ultra-conservative right-winger on his own time, that would be different. I’m pretty tolerant of differing political beliefs, even have some right-wing friends. But he’s used his position, money, and clout to actively work against inclusion and for grossly homophobic purposes and organizations. So, no. I won’t go.

    Thanks, Chuck, for the lucid explanation. Hope the vitriol doesn’t get too horrible.

  12. I read and enjoyed most of OSC’s books. Some seemed a bit strident and preachy but I color me clueless I had no idea about his politics for a long time. Now, of course, I’m looking for subtext in every paragraph. And I stopped buying or recommending his books

  13. Yeah, this is a movie to skip; and, instead of helping to top up OSC’s hate-bucket, I’ll send the ticket price to my favorite equal-rights charity instead (but not, as another poster said, after paying to see the film; each to his own). Also: as a life-long science fiction fan and, more recently, SF author, I also find myself reacting to the discovery that ANY writer of SF could share my affection for the intellectual expansiveness of the genre and still somehow think like a witch-burning troglodyte. How’s that work?

    • Some of the most sexually progressive ideas I have ever encountered was in SciFi.(I’m thinking Octavia Butler here.) Some of it seriously challenged me, so I’m as confounded as you about how dumb smart people can be.

  14. As a society, we need more of this dialogue ….. more illumination on the under-belly of what is cultural or political manipulation masked as art .
    Yay !!

  15. I am consistently amazed at how stupid people are (even revered sci-fi authors). So the guy who thinks homosexuality is linked to child abuse now wants people to cut him the same slack that he gave them when the “issue was still in dispute?” Done and done asshole.

    I applaud Chuck for taking a public stand on the issue. It’s bad enough having to mentally unpack all the ignorance that goes unexamined in our society without having to deal with the aggressive, in-your-face ignorance of people who hate for some deep-seated psychological reason.

    Shit, I’m going to take that $8 and pre-order EMPYREAN SKY. Hell, I’ll buy a hardcover and donate it to the local library. Suck it, OSC. Diversity is the future.

  16. We vote with our dollars. That’s the most powerful vote we have left to us. Haters can be dicks with their own money but they’re not getting a dime of mine to promote their bigotry. No, I don’t have to tolerate his intolerance. The high road has been closed. I’ll add this movie, all his books, and whatever else this douchebag supports to my boycott list.

  17. I largely agree with you, CW, and I want to re-emphasize something you said that a few commenters seem to be skimming over:

    Orson Scott Card uses his money and his influence for bigotry.

    It’s not just a case of “this book has a hidden message of homophobia” (IMHO, it doesn’t). But in a very real dollars and cents case, the money you spend on movie tickets can trickle down into anti-gay causes.

    For comparison, I enjoy Lovecraft, who not only had some terrible views, but who baked them into his work a lot. Not every evil cult is made up of the darker-skinned races in Lovecraft, but that’s the way to bet. But no matter how many Lovecraft books I buy, I know that the man himself isn’t using that money to fund activity I disagree with.

    • Thank you for re-highlighting that. To me, that’s the biggest issue here. He is actively working to make other people’s lives miserable.

    • benjb, I found your comparison to Lovecraft extremely useful and it helped clarify how I was looking at the issue. I love Ender’s Game — I read the book when I was eight, and it remains one of my high-water marks of sci-fi. I’ve enjoyed many of Card’s other books, too, and it wasn’t until very recently that I learned about how he was spending his money and began to feel extremely conflicted. I’m also a Lovecraft fan (though, *sigh* I’ve lost count of the numbers of nefarious Jews scampering through his pages) — but the man is dead, and can’t fund whatever disturbing groups he would probably have liked to fund.

      I’ll wait until Netflix gets the DVD.

      • Okay Ben you are mow just tempting me to read the book. I’ve never read it but not be pause of his politics. I was just never interested. Now resisting the urge to order it from the library.

        • I’m being slightly tongue-in-cheek, but it is true to an extent. However, when said boys (and one very kick-ass girl) end up wrestling half-naked, it’s because they’re trying their very best to kill each other.

          Homoerotica and Mr. Card’s opinion of gays aside, it is one hell of a book. Probably the most influential book of my teenage years. Very deep. I do recommend it.

          • “when said boys (and one very kick-ass girl) end up wrestling half-naked, it’s because they’re trying their very best to kill each other” <– And that makes it *not* homoerotic because…?

            I was also very surprised to hear about his views because my impression was that EG has a lot of that subtext. Ikeke, you can get a copy from your local library if you don't want to put your money toward OSC and his "cause."

    • Completely agree, Rick. There was a great deal of homoerotic undertones. And Songcatcher was even worse for that, if I recall. Methinks OSC doth protest too much. Maybe there’s something he wants to share with us

      • Indeed. There’ve been studies which *strongly* suggest that outspoken homophobes stand a ridiculously high chance of being gay (or at least bi). As if it weren’t obvious enough to the rest of us without said studies.

    • The most hate-filled, anti-gay people in this world often turn out to be closeted homosexuals. I am NOT saying Card is gay or bi or confused; I have no idea (and truly I don’t want to know). But there’s a real pattern of self-hatred so furious that it’s turned outward on the world. I mean, how many virulently anti-gay American politicians have been caught in gay sex scandals? I can count five without even trying very hard. Even if he’s simply and naturally curious, and utterly unable to deal with that curiosity, it would explain what you’re talking about.

      But yes, there are totally homoerotic undertones in the book.

  18. Considering I am a bisexual woman, Cards beliefs directly harm me and my friends.

    This isn’t some distant ‘oh they’re sort of bad people, I guess?’ misuderstood crusade.

    Orson Scott Card uses his money to fund and support organisations that wish to deny basic human rights to my american friends, and you’d best bet they’d try here in the UK too if they could.

    He has every right to put his money where his beliefs are. I have no wish to add my money to that pool.

    Many of the same reasons are behind my not supporting the Salvation Army (viciously anti-LGBTQA, and there are other charities that do what they do without the religious angle).

    You cna do with your money what you want, of course – there is no law against it. You’re allowed to enjoy his work. I’m sure I enjoy work from people you’d consider equally repellant. (though once this sort of thing is revealed it usually doesn’t last long for me.) But if you have an issue with the toxic, dehumanising, hate-filled rhetoric of the organisations that Card supports, then don’t give him any of your money to do it with.

    • I stopped donating to the Salvos the day I found out about their homophobic views. There are plenty of other charities I can give my bits and pieces to, ones that don’t advocate killing gay people.

      I’ve never read “Ender’s Game” and part of me feels like I’ve missed out there, but I wouldn’t do it unless a free copy that earned OSC nothing landed in my lap. And this is from a person who’s staunchly anti-piracy under other circumstances. 😉

    • >Orson Scott Card uses his money to fund and support organisations that wish to deny basic human rights<

      Yes, pretty much this. I, too, am bisexual and OSC's personal views of who I am are abhorrent and disgusting. Like Chuck, I don't think not having my $12-$15 movie ticket price will do much of anything to the movie box office, but there are lines I do not cross, and this is one of them.

      If a person uses their $$/influence to actively try to deny human rights, I will not support them/their product.

      I know a lot of folks have said that they can separate the person from the product, that's fine. In this case, I cannot. I, and those of us here who are not seeing the movie/buying his books, have as much right to do what our consciences dictate as every other one of you.

  19. Wasn’t going to see the movie anyways, on account of the production company having to double every character’s starting age (I’d like to see Hollywood try and find a dozen or more six year olds with the vocabulary of political science undergrads), but I guess this is one more nail to add to the coffin.

    “Ender’s Game” was one of my favourite books of all time when I was growing up. Still is. There are some powerful messages woven into that book. I found out about Orson Scott Card’s anti-gay sentiments halfway through high school, only a few years after my divorced dad came out as being in the closet. NOM disgusts me. Several of Orson Scott Card’s articles on homosexuality disgust me. Doesn’t mean I refuse to read his work or find it powerful.

    Yes, he hates gays. If he’s throwing money at NOM, I won’t pay to see the movie, or buy any of his new books. Yes, it is wrong in my view that he’s supporting hate groups. Does that mean I will put down my dog-eared copy of “Ender’s Game” for good? No. The man doesn’t fit into my cultural perception of right and wrong. That doesn’t mean I can’t still find his work meaningful. Hell, reading is supposed to expand your horizons- but nobody said all of those horizons would be picturesque sunsets.

    That being said, he’s not getting any more of my money.

  20. I have not mad up my mind yet. I’m certainly disgusted with his politics, but I also see him as a dying breed.

    The Story has a lot more value than you might think in terms of teaching a more balanced viewpoint, particularly if you read in into the series a few more books.
    It’s almost as if he’s caught between a rock and a hard place in terms of real life and fictional life. If you draw a parallel between his politics and his stories, then we may have him wrong and what we see right now is him hiding in a community. Heck, if his charters are any reflection on himself then he might even be part of NOM to make sure it *fails* and be sacrificing himself for the common good (completely in line with his characters).

    I don’t say any of this is true, and I don’t condone his bigoted statements in the least, but I think the story is one that has some important moral points, ones that helped me, as a child, accept those people that were different from me.

    Woud it not be ironic if his stories promoted tolerance and helped a whole new generation accept and live beside those that were different than themselves?
    I would find that such sweet justice. Such finely balanced Karma.

    • Read “Speaker for the Dead”- it’s the sequel to the series. It manages to do just that.

      • I have already, thats exactly what I’m talking about.
        For those that have not read beyond Ender’s Game, Speaker for the Dead is the 3rd book after Xenocide.

        It’s his writing that actually promotes tolerance and acceptance, more so than any other author that I’ve ever read, which is why I’m so terribly conflicted about supporting him through the movie.

    • You know, his stories speak so much to me of tolerance. Of finding a way to understand and love those who are completely different from you. It really blows my mind that this author has personal beliefs so different from what comes out in his work. Or maybe I’ve been reading his work wrong all along?

      Or maybe he is just a fantastic writer and has intuitively learned in his writing what he hasn’t applied to his life: that stories that espouse hatred and bigotry make for weak and unsatisfying fiction.

  21. Every writer has politics, but I’ve noticed when a writer goes into activist mode, their work suffers. Card’s best works are miles behind him, but I don’t think his work deserves to be re-evaluated because of his popular opinions. Yes, popular. He’s not going against the dominant opinion on Americans. A majority of Americans are against gay marriage and skeevish about gays themselves. Also, he’s an active Mormon and upholds their conservative values .

    While this is changing at a slugs pace, he’s not out of step. He’s in lockstep. Give it twenty years and he’ll be considered a crank.

  22. I have to admit, I’m pretty selfish about this. I first read EG when I was 11 or 12, and it came at a time when I was recovering as a victim of child abuse. Ender, constantly betrayed by the adults in his life, had managed to use his intelligence and determination to keep moving forward, and his example was a huge inspiration for me in a crucial time.

    It wasn’t too many years before I heard the first rumors of a possible movie and I’ve been waiting for it most of my life.

    In my mind, Ender’s Game became a crucial part of me turning into who I am, long before I realized that authors were even people who could have hateful and hurtful views. It was still something of an abstract concept to me, just a second identifier attached to a book I loved.

    On top of that, the book was one of my introductions to science fiction, and I greatly credit it for getting me to seek out all of the amazing stories I’ve found since then.

    Everything about EG is detached from what I think of Card in my mind. They exist in two completely separate zones of reality for me, and good or bad, that means that I have a lot of difficulty denying myself the movie I’ve wanted for so long. My rationalizing goes very deep (as you can probably see). I’ve become very conflicted about the notion that giving myself this one thing will undo or lessen everything else I’ve done to push for equal rights.

    I’ve also felt pretty pushed around by peer pressure on this one, from reading the strong thoughts of authors I respect, to hearing friends talk about how they can’t imagine what kind of awful person would even consider supporting this monster.

    I don’t have a conclusion to this, or a decision. Just a lot of conflict and a very sincere wish that I could be as adamant in my views as some of the other people here.

    • Thank you for this Brian, it’s a good summation of how I feel about the book as well. I first read it months after my father died around he time my family started talking about he abuse. I hope you don’t mind if I reference this response in talking it out with my friends.

    • Thank you for being so honest in your reply. I had a very, very similar response to the book. I loved Ender’s Game when I first read it – as a teen in total, self-protective denial about being abused as a child – and I have continued to love it every time I’ve read it since. It resonated with me so strongly, so deeply, and gave me real and true hope for healing some day. Even today, as an adult, the book still moves me. It’s one of the handful books that meant so much to me that I continue to re-read them as I age.

      On the other hand, I’m gay. I’m a woman and I’m married to a woman. Card’s hate-filled words are directed right at me.

      I can’t reconcile how the one person could write something so filled with empathy that it touches my soul, and yet believe and espouse things so narrow-minded and ignorant and truly lacking in empathy.

      I can’t not read and love the book. I just can’t.

      So I’ve been looking forward, so much, to seeing the movie.

      And now I have no idea what to do.

    • This is exactly how I felt and still feel about the book as well. People talk about books that “change your life.” This one did for me in a very real way. It remains one of the most powerful books I’ve read, with a message of tolerance and hope struggling to survive in an environment filled with anger and hate, and how even if you don’t intend or want to, you end up doing horrible things to survive and save yourself. I recognized Ender’s situation in my own.

      I recently read a tweet about this book that said, “please realize that your moral dilemma, or lack thereof, is a fucking luxury.” To that person I would say, please realize that your one-sided view of this subject is in fact a fucking luxury as well. People have no right to tell me what art is or is not “allowed” to move me.

      I applaud Chuck for taking a well-reasoned stance on this. I’m still weighing my decision. I am not going to give money to someone who will use it to discriminate against myself and my friends. But at the same time, no one had better fucking tell me that I shouldn’t love this book.

      Maybe I’ll watch it when it gets to Netflix.

  23. As a librarian of many many years, I’ve had to battle many parents and citizens who want books banned just because the authors were lefties, gay, communist, non-Christians or whatever else offended them. No Harriet the Spy – the author is a lesbian! No Inconvenient Truth – horrors, Al Gore! Despite my own left-leaning, science-believing politics, I’ve also had to defend Ender’s Game for my students.

    My response to the would be censors has always been – we separate the work from the creator. Otherwise, our world would be quite poor and shallow.

    As an individual buying books or movie tickets, I do have the right not to support something. Right now I’m choosing not to see the Lone Ranger and I’m rather amazed at how little outrage the public seems to summon about the portrayal of Native Americans, as opposed to the upset over the supposed whitewashing of Khan in the Star Trek Into Darkness.

      • Ah! That makes a lot of sense. My family always made sure I got to read every banned children’s book. In middle school, I was part of a group that worked to get Huckleberry Finn, The Merchant of Venice, and basically everything Toni Morrison ever wrote allowed back into our school libraries.

        Banning and boycotting sets my teeth on edge, regardless of how much I disagree with individual authors or the contents of their books. Of course your point here is about the money… not necessarily that the work of hateful people should never see the light of day.

        In fact, it SHOULD see the light of day. We can learn from it. We can learn that great artists are not necessarily great people. Or rather, that people are complicated and that the same person is capable of creating great beauty and causing great harm. And this is why we can neither discard another person entirely nor can we follow them blindly.

        • +1000

          “We can learn that great artists are not necessarily great people. Or rather, that people are complicated and that the same person is capable of creating great beauty and causing great harm. And this is why we can neither discard another person entirely nor can we follow them blindly.”

    • Excellent, perfect point. And for the record, I cannot believe that in the year 2013, Johnny Depp is playing a Native American and defending it because he was recently ‘adopted’ by a tribe (for purely non-commercial reasons, I’m sure), and no one is batting an eye.

  24. Never read it, just wasn’t that into SciFi back in the day. When I DID think about reading it, recently, I discovered his hateful views, so I won’t read or see it, either. And I love this post!

    I find the absolutely ridiculously bass-ackward “Tolerate my intolerance or you’re intolerant” Card’s now come up with so mind-blowingly absurd I can hardly find words. Some people don’t seem to listen to themselves when they spout off.

    For me it all comes down to this: the people that don’t support marriage equality are putting themselves above a huge portion of their fellow humans. Actually, they’re not even acknowledging that people with different orientations ARE human (seemingly) or deserving of the same rights. Anyone comfortable with treating their fellow man and woman like a different (and lesser) species based on…well, ANYTHING, deserves all the disdain they get. I hope they get a lot, because there’s a difference between tolerating different views (good) and passively approving hatred disguised as righteousness (very bad).

  25. First, I’d like to applaud your stance & your measured reasoning.

    Second, I’d like to cheer and jump up and down about your statement & context of “I’m not saying you should or have to do the same.” I believe most movies are a collaborative experience*, and if someone wants to support Asa Butterfield or Hailee Steinfeld or Gavin Hood** (who is the actual screenwriter as well as the director) or just sci-fi books being made into movies as a general cause? I’m with you, Mr. Wendig. X person’s money; X person’s party – have fun. I won’t be joining in, but as you say, no harm no foul.

    Third, I’m in neither camp, despite my revulsion at OSC’s stance. I won’t be seeing the movie anytime soon, but I only wish I could say I was actively boycotting. The truth is that I don’t go to the theater to see movies without some pretty intense motivation. I also won’t seek it out on Netflix, unlike Avengers. I’d rather call what I’m doing “passively avoiding” – and I’ll find out later if the partner wants to pirate it, since there’s been little interest expressed from that front.

    Finally, to the “boycott all art done by jerks” stance – it’s one thing if someone believes a particular abhorrent view; it’s another when said someone donates lots of money to an organization specifically dedicated to preventing certain folks from getting equal rights. It’s equivalent to “not with my tax dollars!” – an individual can choose not to put money into an effort that can enrich the said someone and give them more donatable buckage. And unlike the government, where I can look at budget data and say to myself “I can think of all my tax dollars as going to NASA and education,” I don’t have a good breakdown of how much of the money made from this movie will go to which charity. If other members of the movie team support charities, I would rather buy copies of their other stuff.


    * Woody Allen is an exception. I won’t see his work anymore.

    ** Hood is deeply interested in moral ambiguity so this whole scenario – as in the theme of the book as well as OSC’s problematic POVs – fits with his general directorly arc.

  26. I think the best form of protest would be to get one of his films made with George Takai, Neil Patrick Harris and Zachary Quinto all given prominent parts.

  27. Let me tell you why I’m not going to boycott the film, despite feeling the same way you do about Card’s policies:

    Ender’s Game is a story about anti-judgement, anti-bigotry and anti-hatred. There’s no other way to look at it. TOTALLY MASSIVE SPOILER ALERT: Ender accidentally facilitates the destruction of an entire species, only realizing afterward what he’s done and feeling terrible for it. And in the further books, he spends the rest of his life trying to correct what he’s done.

    IMHO, there’s no other way to interpret the book or the series. It’s a series about tolerance, understanding and respect of “the other,” even when you can’t understand it.

    Don’t ask me how such a book and series spawned from the mind of such a homophobic…um…can I swear her? Let’s just go with “dirtbag.”

    And in the end, the message of the film is more important than the message of its creator. It has broader reach and more appeal. More people hear about it, more people know it. If you took the number of people who have read Ender’s Game, and then find out how many of those people even KNOW about Card’s homophobic views, I’d bet you’d find out it’s an extremely small percentage. I didn’t even know about his views until two months ago when I expressed excitement to see the film.

    The story’s message will live on long after Card and his ilk have perished from the Earth. Hell, Card (whose policies will probably be forgotten about one day) may be hailed in the future as a prophet of tolerance—creating an interesting mirror of the path of Ender’s life when he went from proclaimed savior to reviled villain of history.

    I will give you an interesting parallel, prefaced with a request NOT to interpret this as a comparison between the two. Let me stress that again—I am not saying these two are similar, on the same scale of morality, or in any other way comparable other than in the exact context of the analogy I am about to deliver:

    Martin Luther King, Jr. was, if not homophobic, at least mildly censuring of it. In his only public exchange on the subject, he said it was a “problem” which could be “solved.” Maybe it’s me, but I can’t help but think of the Bachman’s gay reform camps.

    And yet, is this what we take away from King’s life? Of course not. His great, more important, and more known work by far is his work in african-american rights. That is all we SHOULD take away from his life, because that is the only subject upon which he was unquestionably qualified to be heard.

    Similarly, the only thing I believe will ever be truly worth remembering about Card is his art and his writing—none of which has ever shown me an iota of intolerance. The only people in Ender’s Game who preach hate and intolerance are the bad guys, the bullies, who—again, spoiler alert—often end up dead.

    If Card’s intolerance had a negative cultural impact that was in any way on the same scale as the positive cultural impact of his art, I might consider taking action. As it stands, the two aren’t remotely close.

    Supporting the tolerant art while vilifying the intolerant artist is enough protest for me. And vilifying the tolerant art because of the intolerant artist is, by contrast, destructive of the message that we ourselves believe in.

    This has now become seriously long, so if you made it this way, kudos.

    • I would be curious to find out how Card’s views have changed over the years. After all, Ender’s was written in the early 80’s, so I wonder if his hatred grew after that, due to his involvement with the LDS church. It would be interesting to find out. Not interesting enough to actually go and do research, but interesting anyway. I do want to see the movie because I love the story (and like all the actors in it) but I don’t really want to support Card. Maybe I’ll buy a ticket to something else and then see the movie. 🙂

    • YES! That is what I struggle with the most with OSC! How did Ender’s Game come from HIM?! It’s all about standing up for yourself, righting your wrongs, overcoming bullies, and trying against all hope to do what is right. I’m so confused!

    • You hit the nail on the head. The book is one of the strongest testaments to tolerance, love and respect for humanity in science fiction literature. I say, turn his art into a message for good rather than suppress it because you don’t like the guy. You want to undo what Card says in his real life? Then use his own words to show the opposite message. Long after Card dies, long after his personal influence dies out, EG and SFTD will live on, and you know what? They deserve to.

      I will go see the movie enthusiastically. Who cares what happens to Card.

    • Yes. This is exactly my conflict as well.
      I have not yet decided which is more important but I do know his work promoted acceptance in a way that was profound for a lot of people.

      I love the idea of his own work working against his cause.

  28. For me, the line is drawn between an author’s opinions and their actions.

    I’ve read many works by authors whose personal and political opinions I have found repugnant.

    The difference here is that Card is a member of *the board of freakin’ directors* for NOM, and that is where it crosses the line. It has gone beyond opinion into my money actively supporting the efforts of an organization that seeks to directly harm my family. This isn’t an issue of disagreement, or of rudeness. This is an organization that directly bankrolls lobbying efforts which result in legislation that does measurable harm to members of my family.

    This is not something where we can “agree to disagree”, and it frankly stuns me when I see people float that as a response.

  29. Why do we ALL have to be equal??? That is an idiotic quest! Equality does not exist in nature!!
    The bigger question is – why do we want to force those that we disagree with to change their views?

    The problem isn’t with OSC, the problem is that marriage is a matter of law! Get it out of the grubby little hands of Big Bro and the law, I say.

    Getting a hair cut is not a matter of law, so why is getting married a matter of the law?

    Imagine not asking permission from anyone when it came to marrying your future ex-spouse!!
    I loved Ender’s Game and I will watch the movie, although I don’t agree with OSC on this issue.


    • “Why do we ALL have to be equal??? That is an idiotic quest! Equality does not exist in nature!!
      The bigger question is – why do we want to force those that we disagree with to change their views?”


    • Uh, because without marriage, two people who have chosen to make a lifelong commitment to one another will be treated by the law as roommates, rather than family? That’s what marriage does. It makes you the legal next of kin.

  30. I can’t do it. Emotionally, physically, ideologically… I just can’t go to the movie. As so many better spoken people have said above, it’s not due to OSC’s personal views, it has everything to do with his spreading the hatred. He is choosing to use his public voice and money to hurt people. I will chose not to give him any more strength.

  31. It’s not just Card’s hateful bigotry that makes this particular text problematic to support. It’s the STORY ITSELF. Every thoughtful person who read’s ENDER’S GAME should also read John Kessel’s brilliant unpacking of the novel (and its sequels), “Creating the Innocent Killer.” I’m not sure whether Chuck’s comments allow for inclusion of links, but I’m going to try to paste one to the essay in below (if it doesn’t work, just google Kessel and the essay title).

    • I just had to go and read the essay, as I had not read it before.

      I think it was certainly well written, but I can’t agree with his conclusions. He does have some interesting takes on the stories and some motivation of the author behind them, but I’m afraid he misses several obvious contrary points simply to make his essay come out how he wants.

      A thread in this forum is not the right place to properly counter it (nor do I have the time) but one example is the fact that ender is eventually seen as a killer due to *his own efforts*. The essay purposely overlooks that point which is an important one and refutes part of the essay (overlooked accidentally or on purpose doesn’t really matter).

      The essay author also makes grand assumptions about how life is and is not (that he labels child abuse), that I found somewhat disingenuous or inexperienced.

      So, worth reading, but I encourage you to consider it and make your own opinions before you do. That will help you evaluate the essay rather than just assuming its author was thorough and objective.

  32. When I found out that OSC was such a super douche-bag I was embarrassed to admit how much I adore Ender’s Game. It’s hard to acknowledge that something so awesome came from such a complete jerk…
    But with the movie things are a little bit different for me, if only because I can’t even imagine the movie being on par with the book. (I mean, have you even seen the trailers for WWZ?! Brad Pitt DEMOLISHED that book in to nothing!) I’m not going to see it out of fear that the movie is going to be terrible more than not wanting to support OSC… Eventually I may get around to it, when it ends up on Netflix or something, but I have no desire to jump on that media train right now.

    The only question I have for you (and by default, for everyone else) is this; Just because you don’t agree with an author on their personal stances, do you have to hate their work? I mean, I count Ender’s Game as one of my top ten favorite books EVER, but I feel like I shouldn’t even read anything more from him because I’m supporting an asshole. And is that “fair” to me, that I shouldn’t get to read any more awesome books because of him? I don’t know, it’s just tough… I feel like if I admit that I’m a fan of his books than I’m admitting I’m a fan of him, and I don’t know that it should work that way… It’s like meeting an author that’s wonderful and amazing and has TERRIBLE books out. I wouldn’t just go buy the books and read them because that author is an awesome person, not if it means reading garbage that annoys me.

    Sorry for the longwinded comment, I’m just honestly curious. I’ve struggled with the OSC (and L. Ron Hubbard) issues for a long time and I want to know what others think about it all!

  33. I disagree. We ARE lacking great art,great movies, and great reading. Nearly everything artwise generated today is utter shit. Not only shit, but shit of the bull.

    If we were all that concerned with the politics of the artist, none of us would listen to Wagner, for example. Does the artist have to also agree with your politics? Your view on race? On women?

    Get off your high horses. If it’s good art, it’s good art. Don’t mix in your self-important politics or milk-toast philosophy.

    • Sorry, Mike, I must disagree. There is plenty of good stuff still being produced today. The author of this blog produces good stuff, as do John Scalzi, Robin Hobb, Brandon Sanderson, GRRM, and many others. And there is still plenty of things from the past to read to not have to bother with Card’s stuff. Also, the last thing I read of his (the Earthfall trilogy) left me cold, so I’m not that sure that his writing is that great anymore.

      Also, you missed the point. There’s a difference between having different views, and actively seeking to impose your views and will on others through support of organizations that try to limit the rights of others. That is what Card does. I find Frank Miller an obnoxious right wing douchebag, but as far as I know he’s not actively out there supporting organizations that seek to make me a second class citizen, so I will continue to read his work. Since OSC is saying to me “you’re not worthy of the same rights that I have” then I’m obviously not worthy of spending my nasty gay money to buy his books or see the movie based on it.

    • Mike — Give that you live in Venice (according to your profile), would you give money to an artist who not only advocated but used that money to work extensively toward stripping any American who lives overseas of citizenship?

      Because I’m wondering if “self-important politics” or “milk-toast philosophy” is only an issue for you when it’s somebody ELSE who’s being affected.

  34. Just recently heard about his bigotry. My hubby went to writing classes with him and we probably have a picture of my late hubby with him, but I wouldn’t remember what he looked like, and I definitely never suspected he was a bigot. I will not see the movie just because I rarely go to movies, but may check out one of our old books to see if the bigotry shines through.

  35. I’ve often said, I’ll not read him or support his work until after he’s dead, and then only if I’ve run out of other things to read… and despite another commenter to the contrary, there are TONS of fantastic books being written every year, and there are centuries of literary canon that I have yet to tackle. So many good books, so little time….

  36. Realizing this seems odd to me, because I read some homoerotic subtext in Ender’s Game. Also, in the sequel, he was REALLY close to his sister. :/ What with the other incestuous pairing, I did have to wonder. Or maybe that was just me.

    I’m still going to see the movie. It was one of my favorite books, ever, and my biggest fear is that the movie will totally butcher it. :/

    My philosophy is that art stands on its own merit, not on the author’s. I can give many examples of writers and artists who were not only jerks, but who used their art to promote their screwy politics. It would be different if he was using Ender’s Game to promote hateful ideals. Since it doesn’t appear that the work itself does that, I won’t be boycotting it. It’s a bit of a nasty shock to hear that those are his beliefs. But in the same way that I wouldn’t want people boycotting my stuff because of my politics, gender, or whatever, I will ignore his personal problems and judge the film on its own merit. For instance, I did boycott Chick-fil-A over this issue, but they were directly funding anti-gay lobbyists. He is an influential spokesperson for a nasty organization, but going to see his movie isn’t the same as paying that organization to do its hateful thing.

    I guess what I’m saying is that I can admire the art, without admiring the artist as a person.

    • So I’ve been obsessing over this since reading this post…and a few days later, of course, my opinion has completely changed. I still love the book. I would really love to see OSC’s own work used against him, like an earlier thread suggested. However, I’m at a loss for how to do that without giving him money. And I suspect that most people who will see EG will go for the explosions and fights and CGI rather than to ponder the message of it all.

      After much thought, I will probably not be seeing the movie because I don’t want to support his “cause” in any way. However, I don’t like seeing people dismiss any value the work might have just because they don’t agree with its creator. There are a lot of people in these comments who have used OSC’s politics to blast everything he’s ever written — with or without having read any of his books. I would advise: support your local library, borrow the novel, and then be vastly confused about how the hell it could have been written by a guy this vile.

  37. Next week my brother will be getting married to a man he’s been living with for the last seven years. The man he’s marrying has been a second brother to me for most of that time. They’re both awesome people and seeing them together paints the world in colors so beautiful that I wonder how such colors could exist.

    If OSC’s money ever helped to facilitate any action that succeeded in destroying that beauty and erasing those colors, the loss would be catastrophic. Not just for my two brothers and me, but for countless others as well. And if a portion of that destructive money came from my own pocket and my own hard work to earn it? Honestly, that’s something far too repellant for me to properly imagine.

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