I’m going to talk about a controversy that has been on my radar for some time now, but which I have never explored in depth up until now. I imagine that even the non-sci-fi nerds reading this have heard of a little novel called Ender’s Game, a phenomenally popular book by Orson Scott Card that is justly cited as one of the best science fiction novels ever written. That book has been made into a movie with an all-star cast that includes Harrison Ford, Ben Kingsley, the kid from Hugo, and a bunch of other people whose names I am too lazy to type. I don’t know if it’s going to be any good (the director’s track record is fairly undistinguished), but I’ll probably see it anyway. I’m a big fan of the source material, and I want to encourage Hollywood to continue to adapt works like this. But that’s not the controversy. The controversy is that Orson Scott Card is a raging homophobe. I don’t just mean that he opposes gay marriage, but that he believes gays are “tragic genetic mix-ups”, that homosexuality is a choice and has even advocated open rebellion against the United States government for permitting gay marriage. He also serves on the board of the National Organization for Marriage (NOM), as if all that other stuff didn’t make him enough of a douchebag.
Cards’s response to the calls for a boycott of the movie are basically the same stuff we’ve heard from a million homophobes: Namely, that he is being persecuted for expressing his beliefs (which are that other people should be persecuted for having different beliefs). It’s bullshit, we all know it, and I doubt this will be the last time that I hear a bigot play the “You’re being intolerant of my intolerance” card. But the question remains: Is it worth boycotting the movie just to send a message that you do not approve of Card’s douchebaggery? I think it depends on the person. Card didn’t write the script, but he is a producer and will probably get royalties if it does well. So if the thought of spending money that will indirectly go towards funding the fight against gay marriage turns you off, don’t see the film. I don’t endorse that, personally, and here’s why.
Let’s say Osama bin Laden were still alive and had directed a film. Let’s say everyone said it was really good. Would you see it? I would. For me, the indirect consequences of giving money to that asshole would be outweighed by the direct consequences of celebrating good art. And don’t tell me that no one that evil could ever produce something that is beautiful. Ezra Pound was a fascist, and he still wrote good poetry. Ender’s Game is rife with homoerotic undertones, and when you consider that Orson Scott Card believes that homosexuality is the result of child molestation, it’s not too big of a leap to assume that the man has some deeply internalized self-loathing resulting from abuse that occurred to him long ago. It’s no reason to excuse him for being a douchebag, though. Many of us have been abused or lost children (as Card also has). It sucks, I’m sure, and there’s nothing I can say to make it better. But to expect the world to stand still just because you’re not happy isn’t nobility, it’s weakness, and for that reason, Orson Scott Card’s legacy will always be tainted by his personal shortcomings.
If you really want to understand what is wrong with NOM and all of its members, you just have to look at its name. Why found an organization whose sole purpose is the “protection” of marriage? Marriage is not a value; it’s an institution. Equality is a value, and that’s why I donated money to Equality California shortly after the passage of Proposition 8. But marriage is like salt, in that it will go on being salt whether we defend it or not. You can, to extend the metaphor, put salt on whatever you like. I like salt on steak, but I’m not a huge fan of margaritas. Marriage is whatever you make of it, but equality will disappear if we don’t fight for it. The fight for gay marriage isn’t about marriage; it’s about equality. The fight against gay marriage is about marriage. That’s why it’s losing.
I’ve more or less exhausted everything that I have to say about this particular subject, so I’m going to talk for a moment about privacy. I don’t know how worried you were when you found out that the government is recording our phone calls and reading our emails, but I think you should be, at least a little. You might think that since your life is boring and you don’t know any terrorists, you can’t possibly be suspected of being a threat to national security. But that’s not how it works. The people who think that snooping on citizens is necessary are not thinking rationally. They do not need rational reasons to suspect you of being a threat. So keep that in mind when you post shit on Facebook or type random stuff into a search engine. Somebody might find out about it. And if they’re scared and insecure enough, they just might come after you. I don’t know how many people have been arrested or detained just because they Googled “homemade bombs” when they were just writing a paper about domestic terrorism, but if they can come after that person for doing something a little bit foolish today, they can come after you for doing something even less foolish tomorrow. But don’t be frightened. That’s how Orson Scott Card operates.
(One more thing: Why does the above trailer feel the need to tell us that the cast members are all Oscar winners/nominees? We know who Harrison Ford is, numbnuts!)