End of the Game?

Note: For those a little less geeky than us Enderphiles, jeesh is a slang term from the book referring the close-knit group of friends that Ender chose for his "army"
Note: For those a little less geeky than we Enderphiles, jeesh is a slang term from the book referring the close-knit group of friends that Ender chose for his “army”

Quite a few years ago, I read “Ender’s Game” by Orson Scott Card. It’s the story of a young boy (6 years old at the beginning) who was part of a program to breed commanders for Earth’s wars against against the Formics, an alien race with an insect-like appearance and a hive mind. Bullied by his older brother and other children, ostracized by his peers at Battle School and having to defend himself in two attacks (by killing both assailants) before the age of 12, Ender overcomes enormous adversity and leads the International Fleet to victory over the Buggers (derogatory nickname for the Formics). It is one of the most popular science fiction novels in print. 

Part of the reason for this popularity, I think, is that sci-fi readers are notoriously nerdy. We identify with Ender. We’ve been bullied and ostracized and, while the vast majority of us haven’t killed anyone, it’s a safe bet the thought has crossed all of our minds at some point in time. For me, “Ender’s Game” has even more significance: it is one of the books that inspired to actually pursue this writing thing.

With that kind of background, you can imagine how happy I was when I heard there was finally a film adaptation of the book. All that is now tempered by the fact that the author, Orson Scott Card, has some very distinct views about same-sex marriage: he’s not a fan. No big surprise there, the dude’s a Mormon and they’re not known for their warm and fuzzy take on all things LGBT. But, Card has taken it step further, penning anti-gay articles and serving on the board of the National Organization for Marriage. Damn it, why do all my heroes have feet of clay?

Card’s views are not well-received by the sci-fi community. Not long ago, DC comics selected him to write a new Superman series and the backlash was so great the project wound up being shelved. And, Salon’s Donna Minkowitz, (a fangirl if there ever was one to hear her tell it) called him a “disgustingly outspoken homophobe”. And, with the news of the film, there are calls for a boycott. Great, just freakin’ great. One of my favorite books of all time is made into a movie and if I go see it, I’m contributing to anti-gay bullshit. The story of my life.

Card recently released a statement about all this, saying:

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.”

Orson Scott Card

I was discussing this with some friends and one said that Card was “simply admitting that his current views/beliefs will no longer be upheld by “legal force”. The tone of the statement comes across (to me) as sour grapes as to where the country is heading.” (Okay, so the conversation was on Facebook. I told you I was a nerd).

I see something else in Card’s statement: a recognition of the fact that he (and others) are on the wrong side of history when it comes, not just to same-sex marriage, but LGBT issues all together. And, also a fear that he and his colleagues will be treated just as shabbily as they’ve treated others.

Ever the eternal optimist, I see this statement as hopeful and sort of like a toddler’s first halting steps. They’re wobbly, unsteady and not all that great. But they are moving in the right direction. It seems we want people to change when we want them to and we want that change to happen our way. Unfortunately, that’s not how it works and recogniton of this fact might just encourage others to change the way they think, too.

I could say Card deserves the same grace that I’ve been given and going to see the movie would be a good way to extend that grace. And, the message of “Ender’s Game” is an excellent one, as it’s all about loving your enemies and that violence causes more problems than it solves. Plus, there’s no hint of Card’s less-than-savory views of the LGBT community. So, there’s that. But, going to see it means putting money into the pocket of someone who says incredibly ugly things about people I love. And, that has the distinct possibility of reinforcing that behavior.

Will I go see “Ender’s Game”? Honestly, I just don’t know.