Ender’s Game Not Playing Well for Orson Scott Card
Posted on July 19, 2013
It’s time for San Diego Comic-Con where lots of franchises and movies entice the attendees and attempt to increase their audiences. There’s one particular movie that’s gaining a lot of press prior to the event and the movie’s release, but it’s not because of being featured at SDCC. Orson Scott Card, author of the 1985 sci-fi novel Ender’s Game and producer of the film adaptation, will not be in attendance.
The move to not have Card there to promote the film is one that Lionsgate (and Summit who is releasing the film) is doing to distance Card and his outspoken views on such things as homosexuality from the film itself. But the question I ponder is how much an author (and in this case, a producer of the film as well) and his or her political or religious views should sway the readers or viewers from consuming the product?
The novel Ender’s Game has a great storyline and ending. It’s a book that I encouraged my students to read in school and have even taught. In some ways, it served as a gateway novel to get students who didn’t typically read sci-fi to see how accessible it could be. I’ve been wanting the book to get a film adaptation for years, and was extremely excited when real movement was made towards what will now be out November 1, 2013.
But then the controversy over Card and the Superman debacle kicked up some mud. Chris Sprouse refused to work with Card due to his openly anti-homosexual stance. Sprouse’s strong reaction and refusal to work collaboratively resulted in Card’s Superman storyline to get sidelined earlier this year. The film studio’s decision to start distancing itself from Card and his views that he shares openly online started soon after.
In an interview with the Huffington Post, director Gavin Hood and co-producer Bob Orci talked about whether or not Card’s views automatically attach themselves to the film. Orci states, “…we have no right to tell him what he should or shouldn’t say. I don’t know, Bob and I — we hold the opposite view. I do not agree with Orson Scott Card’s position on gay marriage. But, I love “Ender’s Game” the book. And that’s something that one has to reconcile in one’s own head…”.
This Salon.com article outlines not only the issue with the film but also the timeline of Card’s written views. In an exclusive with ew.com, Card recently stated that with the recent ruling on DOMA, the issue of gay marriage becomes moot. He distances the issue of gay marriage from his book by stating, “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.” But now that the political issues do exist and that Card has been so vocal with his opinions, does it affect whether people buy the book to read or purchase a ticket to see the movie in November?
A boycott has been called by the gay organization Geeks Out according to The Hollywood Reporter. Since Card serves as a producer of the movie, he would financially gain from movie ticket sales as would his Ender franchise that features more books. The request to skip the movie is urged by the organization and those who share their views to not support someone who actively writes against homosexuality.
The Ender’s Game panel moderated by Chris Hardwick of The Nerdist took place today at SDCC. Of course, the first question delved into the issue of Card’s controversial views and the movie. According to a panel recap from Collider.com, the filmmakers acknowledged the issues the controversy raises, but said that when choosing the film’s themes they focused on “‘…leadership, compassion, tolerance, and self-identity.'”
The film is full of some huge stars including Harrison Ford, and those who have seen the trailer may see how enticing of a sci-fi movie it is. Ford has stated that the issue of gay marriage doesn’t connect to the movie overall. He points to the overall message of the film as being more important, and that the recent ruling outweighs Card’s views anyway.
A lot of the better movies of today come from adaptations from books. Since he is distancing his own writing from the controversy, it begs the question whether or not books exist in a vacuum or whether they are expressions of the author’s life including what he or she experiences, the political climate of the times, the historical events, contemporary artistic expressions, etc…?
I have always taught that books are written in context. They do not stand alone. However, we don’t always know what an author thinks or feels, and therefore cannot disagree with him or protest his viewpoints by not purchasing the book. But in this case, Card allows everyone to know his views, therefore putting them directly on the table in front of the consumer to consider.
Ultimately, a decision will have to be made whether or not to connect the book and movie to its progenitor’s outspoken viewpoints or not. It’s not an easy issue to deal with, nor do I believe there is a quick and easy answer. What we do know is that the panel at SDCC was full, the Q&A time was active, and that it may correlate that those who attended will purchase tickets come November. This may be a game that Card never intended to play but will have to see through to the end, whatever that may be.