Why You Might Want To Boycott ‘Ender’s Game’
Science fiction writer Orson Scott Card is a piece of work. An apparently devout Mormon, Card has gained a certain amount of infamy for his take on gay rights. While he insists he’s not a bigot or a homophobe, following the Supreme Court’s decision in Bowers v. Hardwick, 478 U.S. 186 (1986), which upheld Georgia’s sodomy laws, Card wrote:
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.
The goal of the polity is not to put homosexuals in jail. The goal is to discourage people from engaging in homosexual practices in the first place, and, when they nevertheless proceed in their homosexual behavior, to encourage them to do so discreetly, so as not to shake the confidence of the community in the polity’s ability to provide rules for safe, stable, dependable marriage and family relationships.
Those who would be members of a community must sacrifice the satisfaction of some of their individual desires in order to maintain the existence of that community. They must, in other words, obey the rules that define what that community is. Those who are not willing or able to obey the rules should honestly admit the fact and withdraw from membership.
After the Court overruled Bowers in Lawrence v. Texas, 539 U.S. 558 (2003), Card said, “now that the law has changed . . . I have no interest in criminalizing homosexual acts and would never call for such a thing, any more than I wanted such laws enforced back when they were still on the books [except he did want them enforced, albeit only “to send a clear message that those who flagrantly violate society’s regulation of sexual behavior” – ed.]. But I stand by the main points of this essay, which concerns matters internal to the Mormon Church.”
Oh, okay. So, he still wants gay people to deny their very identity and live out their lives in misery and self-loathing, but he’s kind enough to spare them the jail time. That’s nice.
Anyway, Card’s stance on gay rights, and his recent essay wherein he (ahem) imagined “a future where Obama rules as a ‘Hitler — or Stalin-style dictator’ complete with his own ‘national police force’ of ‘young out-of-work urban men’,” have caused the producers of Ender’s Game, a film based on Card’s 1985 novel of the same name, to quake in fear over a potential boycott. But, they say, there’s no reason to boycott the film because it won’t have the intended effect:
Controversial author who sparked protest with his anti-gay views won’t earn less money if film is boycotted, claim insiders
In an effort to head off a potentially damaging boycott of the sci-fi epic Ender’s Game, sources close to the film’s producers have claimed controversial author Orson Scott Card, who wrote the original novel the film is based on, will not profit from the film’s box-office take.
According to the Wrap, insiders have suggested that Card’s deal with producers does not include “backend”, ie, a percentage of the money taken at the box-office. Card, however, has still apparently banked a $1.5m fee, paid to him when the book was optioned in 1996.
I see. So, you’re saying it’s too late for a boycott because Card’s already made bank on the film.
Yeah, no. See, the problem is this: If people don’t want their hard-earned money to support a guy like Orson Scott Card, they probably don’t want their hard-earned money to support the people who paid Orson Scott Card $1.5 million at a time when his homophobic views were already on display. In other words, if people don’t want to reward a homophobe like Card, why would they want to reward the movie producers who . . . wait for it . . . rewarded a homophobe like Card?
And it’s not just the $1.5 million payday Card’s already received. The film will spur additional book sales and will bring attention to Card’s work that it wouldn’t otherwise get. That puts additional money in his pocket, regardless of the fact that he won’t receive “backend” revenue from the film itself. And, again, the producers of the film had to know that when they decided to make the film. So, by boycotting the film, you are expressing disapproval of the producers’ knowingly promoting a homophobe like Card; and, to the extent the film does poorly at the box office, that might indirectly affect Card’s future book sales. Certainly an unsuccessful film will have less of a positive effect on his future book sales than a successful film.
In any event, people have to decide for themselves how they want to spend their money and whom they want to support. For my part, I have no intention of lining the pockets of bigots or their enablers in Hollywood. At the very least, however, people ought to have a realistic understanding of the economics involved. Turning a bigot’s work into a major motion picture is likely to inure to his financial benefit, and the better the film does, the more he will likely profit, directly or indirectly. It’s just plain disingenuous to say otherwise.
[Photo credit: Bookspread.net]
David von Ebers
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