July 10, 2013

Orson Scott Card responds to threats of Ender’s Game boycott


Orson Scott Card: not helping his case.

Geeks Out, an LGBT group whose mission is to “rally, empower and promote the queer geek community,” has organized a boycott of this fall’s film adaptation of Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card, in a protest of the author’s fairly relentless history of homophobic remarks. Skip Ender’s Game is, as the organization says, a call to action for people to refuse to watch the new movie—in theaters, on DVD, via cable TV on-demand—and not to buy any attendant merchandise. And lest you think that this sounds more like a call to inaction, they’re promoting special Skip Ender’s Game events on the release date, November 1, in Chicago, Dallas, New York, Orlando, Seattle, and Toronto. And they’re calling on supporters to donate the time or money they would have spent on the movie to marriage equality and gay rights groups.

A member of the board of directors of the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) since 2009, Card has made a habit of saying terrible things for years. As my colleague Christopher King wrote for Moby Lives several months ago, he has “variously called homosexuality a choice, a dysfunction, and a product of rape or molestation.” He’s been a vocal opponent of gay marriage, and in 1990 voiced his support for the allowing laws banning consensual homosexual acts to remain on the books—a position he reversed after such laws were deemed unconstitutional.

In the face of the Supreme Court’s ruling that the Defense of Marriage Act was also unconstitutional, and responding to the threats of boycott, Card is backpedaling once again. In an exclusive statement to Entertainment Weekly, he says:

Ender’s Game is set more than a century in the future and has nothing to do with political issues that did not exist when the book was written in 1984.

With the recent Supreme Court ruling, the gay marriage issue becomes moot.  The Full Faith and Credit clause of the Constitution will, sooner or later, give legal force in every state to any marriage contract recognized by any other state.

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.

A few points about Card’s remarks. First of all, it doesn’t appear that anybody has cited the content of Ender’s Game as the reason for the boycott, only the author’s long history of bigotry. The fact that there are many other people who have a stake in the film’s success makes the idea of a boycott less than ideal, but it does get across a message: that it’s not OK to support somebody who’s engaged in hateful discrimination on multiple occasions, and maybe next time people will think that through more carefully. The fact that he goes on to declare the gay marriage issue moot is his way of saying, “I’m losing this argument and don’t want to talk about it anymore” (very slight variation on “I’m going to take my ball and go home”). And his call for proponents of gay marriage to be tolerant of those who “disagreed” with them is a woeful understatement, which willfully ignores that in this case disagreement amounted to intolerance. It would be galling that he has the nerve to preach tolerance at this point, except that…well, it’s him.

Ender’s Game is scheduled to be showcased at Comic-Con in San Diego this month, with a panel featuring the stars of the film, including Harrison Ford, a vocal liberal who has spoken in favor of gay marriage. It will be interesting to see if and how the topic of Card’s views and the impending boycott will be addressed.


Nick Davies is a publicist at Melville House.