The Orson Scott Card “Controversy”

As many people know, the genre of speculative fiction is predominately inhabited by the political group called left-wingers. Being on the other side of the fence, I sometimes come at odds with many of the outcries and dealings within the genre. Recently, there has been much “debate” over sexism in the genre, to which I believe has been blown out of proportion, or tackled the wrong ideas. But that’s not what I’m here to talk about. I can agree with some of the things the previous scandals have dealt with.

The so-called “Orson Scott Card Controversy,” I cannot.

I have grown accustomed to left-wingers over the years, having to deal with them in the genre. And they have proven to be smarter than I usually give them credit. I can understand them, sometimes. I begin to have hope for them. But this new outrage has dipped my confidence in the group.

To begin with, I’m going to state this is not a rant about gay-rights. This deals with hypocrisy I’ve seen from many statements released by people of the genre boycotting the new movie, Ender’s Game.

I’m not against boycotting. I have nothing against not wanting to see a movie that shows the other side of my opinion. I’ll boycott a business. I’ll boycott a politician. I’ll boycott a nation. But the problem so many people have is saying that we should disconnect the art from the artist, yet actually doing so. That’s my problem with this whole outrage against the author.

But, you say, the right-wing extremists did this a few years back with Philip Pullman’s adaptation of The Golden Compass. Why can’t we as left-wingers do the same to others? Are you screaming tolerance while promoting intolerance?

I bet you can guess my answer.

See, the problem with that example is that The Golden Compass, and the whole His Dark Materials trilogy, was that the work of art dealt with an overthrow of God, symbolism or no. I’m not going to give my money to that, same reason I don’t watch documentaries by Michael Moore. They do not divide the art from the artist.

I will admit that I haven’t read Ender’s Game yet, but will be doing so in the near future, if only to have some true, unbiased insight on my opinion. But from what I have gathered from reading many analyses of the work, scanning over book club reads, and idly looking at reviews is that there is nothing in this novel that advocates anti-gay rights. Nothing. At all.

Please, correct me if I’m wrong.

What I cannot understand is NOT separating the art from the artist.

I have read Mieville, Banks, and Newton. They all have widening beliefs that go against my own. To top it off, money goes toward their political establishments, in some shape, form, or fashion. Mieville I can disagree on when it comes to social economics. I dislike Banks for his outright hatred and boycott of Israel. Newton leaves a certain distaste in my mouth when it comes to global warming.

But do I put their books down in the middle because of this? No, not if it’s not raging throughout their books.

Mieville didn’t do subtlety well, especially with his vulgar cries against Conservatives. Banks has rants against religion for no apparent reason. Newton, the smallest of the three in publicity, has yet to do something that drives me to write about it in a review. But am I going to stop with their books? No, because I keep giving this literary greats a second chance.

People that cry to boycott Card don’t even give him one chance.

And that sickens me.

If you’re going to hate on a book that has no beliefs held by the author in their pages whatsoever, then I call that intolerance. Better yet, I call that misguided idiocy.

15 thoughts on “The Orson Scott Card “Controversy”

  1. You know, I have never seen a single quote from Orson Scott Card on the issue. I have absolutely no idea what he has said on the subject. I suspect that many of the people boycotting the film haven’t either.

    But the leaders have spoken and so the people follow. Someone said that Card is a bad man, and that’s all that they need to know.

  2. Definitely an interesting perspective. A lot of people feel that this comes down to a seperation of art and artist, and yeah, that’s a tricky matter. And whether you do or don’t, that’s a decision for you to make.

    I’ve read what Card has to say on the subject. I wasn’t thrilled. And people have given Card plenty of chances, not just to educate himself on what he’s talking about, but also to rescind his words of hatred. And he hasn’t. I don’t see much of a problem with people putting their money where their mouths are and not seeing a film because they disagree with the creator’s views.

    And I don’t hate on the book. I liked the book. It was an interesting concept that he played with, both in that one book and in other books in the same series.

    There are some of us out there who don’t want to give our money to the man and who have also done our homework and know what we’re talking about. Amazingly enough.

    • Take for instance this example: What if OSC wrote books under a pseudonym. You wouldn’t know that the book you liked would be sent to this evil organization. It wouldn’t matter. And you wouldn’t lose any sleep. You would read just the book, not the background that has no bearing on the story.

      I don’t believe it’s a stretch to divide the art from the artist. I don’t think it’s condescending to state this, either. What I do believe is condescending and arrogant is thinking I haven’t done my homework. As I said, the only thing I haven’t done is read the book word for word. But as you haven’t told me, which I’m going to assume makes me right, there is no connection to anti-gay rights in this book. Once again, correct me if I’m wrong.

      And it saddens me that you will not go and watch a movie about a book that you enjoyed all because you think $1 or $100 is going to change anti-gay rights. As you said, OSC has tried to be shown a different path and hasn’t changed. Why should you continue in a failed endeavor? Personally, I don’t believe that his organization is going to anything to the gay marriage rights. But that’s just a defeatist and cynical outlook by myself.

      Thanks for commenting about my “interesting view.”

      • Wow. Just… wow. I have a hard time believing that you’re not just trolling at this point. One person can’t change anything, so why should anyone try? Seriously?

        I don’t think that my individual support or lack thereof is going to make the difference. I think that the thousands of individuals making a stand can go a long way to making the difference.

    • Can you show a link to any of Card’s “words of hatred’? Because that would make a difference to me. I have seen him disagree with the concept of gay marriage, but nothing that I would consider hateful.

  3. I think there are two levels of interaction. I loved “Ender’s Game,” “Ender’s Shadow,” and “Treason.” I loved how engaging, thought-provoking and imaginative they are. I’m not a big fan of Card personally.

    The first level of interaction is with the work, the second, with the artist.

    I’m on the opposite side of the fence as you, but I agree 100% with the Pullman example. If Card wrote a story that hinged on undermining my beliefs, I wouldn’t buy it. The “Ender’s Game” series doesn’t. As consumers, we can choose to cherry-pick our entertainment. That’s interacting with the work.

    I don’t agree with the way Card lives his life, and I don’t agree with his politics. However, I don’t know that boycotting the movie and attacking him will change his mind. What it does is remove a rather secular story from our culture (which is about being different and coping with it when conflict seeks you out.)

    I felt the same about the Narnia series. I was disappointed by Lewis’ faith, but I think his stories were universal.

    We can believe whatever we want — lead the lives that we choose — so long as it doesn’t infringe on others’ ability to do the same. I would much rather discuss the finer points of philosophy with my enemies than demonize them and never be challenged. I hope you have that capacity as well.

    • Well, you seem pretty sensible. 😛

      I love your third paragraph. If I read the speculative fiction genre picking only books written by right-wingers with a right-wing message, or by left-wingers with no message, I probably wouldn’t be reading the genre. I enjoy reading from another perspective. But I feel boycotting them does nothing to advance the argument, or rights, ideas, so to say.

      Thanks for commenting.

      • Boycotting draws attention to the issue, so it’s like a baby-step. Thanks for giving us a forum to talk about this sensibly. 😉

      • Well, I wouldn’t call my space of the internet sensible. But I see boycotting today in this age very much unlike how it was, in say, the Colonial Times. The world was smaller. Less was more. But maybe I’m too cynical.

        I’m glad you liked the topic!

  4. I agree. I’m pretty left-wing myself, but one might have imagined that freedom of speech, and expression, should be the starting points of all liberal politics. Apparently not. Art may be judged independent of the qualities or iniquities of the artist; or they might be considered entirely detached. It does not matter which. The point is that boycotting is denial of the mind, and incredibly arrogant.

    • I’m going to admit I had to read over your comment a few times to understand it, so I’ll just say my reaction: Art should be seen by its own merits. If the ideas and beliefs inherint in the work coincide with the artist’s same beliefs, then “oh well.” If they disagree with me, I’ll put them down. I’ll make note. But I won’t dismiss them, unless it continues for three times. (Cause three is a bad number!)

      And your point on boycotting is an interesting view. Really has me thinking, which is great! I can understand boycotting a business or person, you could say. But art seems to be of a different variety.

      Thanks for stimulating my brain. Will have to think on that some more. And thanks for commenting!

  5. I consider myself in-between right and left wing politics, so I guess you could say I’m an Independent. I read maybe thirty pages of Ender’s Game. It was good, but I didn’t have the urge to read more so I stopped reading it.

    And I only found out OSC’s beliefs afterwards. From what I’ve read, Ender’s Game contains no anti-gay propaganda. I mean, you could spend a very long time analyzing it, and maybe you might find something like that. But I’ve read the reviews of people who did just that, and the stuff they discovered was… coincidental, at best.

    So, I think you make a good point. We should be able to separate the art from the artist. But, I can also see why people might boycott it. (It’s worth noting that I got most of my info from this link: )

    I won’t boycott it. If the reviews are good, I might watch it. But, I’m completely fine with people boycotting it. I won’t make any examples, because they’ll paint OSC in a very negative light. I disagree with his views, but the examples I have in my head of classic cases where it’s difficult to separate the art from the artist may really be inflammatory.

    So. Interesting post. I haven’t read much on this subject, and if I’m ridiculously misinformed, sorry. But those are my thoughts, at least. I don’t really like politics in literature, and I try my best to leave my personal views out of my writings. Maybe OSC had the same idea when he wrote Ender’s Game.

    But, for people that are really passionate about this subject, they may be looking for a way to keep a few pennies out of his pocket for Ender’s Game. I’m not sure. If you really want to know the unfavorable examples that I refrained from making (which I doubt), feel free to hit me up with an email. Hope I haven’t made a blunder here.

    • No blunder at all.

      I don’t agree with Card coming out and trying to say people should show tolerance for him. I believe he should’ve stuck to his guns if he’s going to stand on a principle. If he really doesn’t like the gay rights, he shouldn’t ask for their help. (That came out worse than I thought. But I hope you understand the gist.)

      I’ll send you an email for the examples. Really curious!

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