Monday, July 15, 2013

The Importance of Boycotting – On Ender’s Game, Orson Scott Card and Bigotry.

You may have heard that Orson Scott Card’s classic sci-fi novel “Ender’s Game” has been made into a movie, directed by Gavin Hood and starring Hailee Steinfeld, Abigail Breslin, Viola Davis and Harrison Ford. You may also have heard that the author is a massive bigot who supports the National Organisation of Marriage, frequently donates money to anti-LGBTQ organisations and rallies against equal marriage whenever he has the chance. Summit Entertainment and Lionsgate, the distributors of the film, have been doing everything in their power to downplay the PR nightmare that is Card, who recently claimed that he should be shown more tolerance by supporters of equal marriage (that noise you hear is my irony alarm spontaneously exploding). Producer Robert Orci said that Card’s views were irrelevant and separate from the film, while Card has mysteriously been missing from convention panels and other forms of promotion. Lionsgate are now including an LGBT fundraiser screening of thefilm

I’ve heard a few defences from people I admire of why they plan on seeing the movie despite Card’s abhorrent homophobia, and I respect their opinions. I understand wanting to support the very talented cast and crew of the film who are entirely separate from the creator’s views. There are unfortunately too few films made these days that allow truly interesting roles for young female actors, much less ones that aren’t weighed down by cheap romantic subplots. I don’t blame Steinfeld, Breslin, Davis or the rest of the cast for signing onto the project, especially the Oscar nominated Stienfeld and Davis. They both deserve careers worthy of their talent. And yes, I understand fans of the book being eager to see something they love translated to the big screen. We’ve all been there. I will honestly not begrudge anyone who chooses to pay money to see Ender’s Game in the theatre.

However, I can’t do it. I just can’t give that man my money.

Orson Scott Card isn’t just a screaming bag of bigoted hot air. He’s also a homophobe who puts his money where his mouth is. He happily sat on the board of directors of NOM as well as giving large sums of money to pro-Proposition 8 groups that lobbied against gay marriage in the state of California. He is a man who takes the money he makes from his writing and puts it into causes I not only fundamentally disagree with but find to be damaging towards society in general.

DOMA may have been struck down by the Supreme Court and gay marriage may have passed its 3rd reading in the House of Lords, meaning it’s that much closer to becoming legal in England in Wales, but the fight for true LGBTQ equality is nowhere near over. The gay marriage bill in England and Wales is extremely discriminatory towards transgender individuals. Married transgender people will need permission from their spouses before they can have their gender recognised. 20% of homeless youth in USA are LGBT, even though they’re only 10% of the population. There are 30 states in USA where constitutional bans on gay marriage stand. The rate of LGBT representation in public office remains extremely low across the board. YA author Malinda Lo’s research showed that less than 1% of YA novels have LGBT characters. I say all this because when Lionsgate say Card’s views on homosexuality are irrelevant, I say bullshit. We do not live in a vacuum. Card’s words are not said entirely separate for any other issue in the world. Indeed, he doesn’t want them to be seen as such unless he feels he’s being personally attacked. Card’s homophobia and anti-LGBT crusade are not separate from his work. In 2008, YASLA awarded Card with the Margaret A. Edwards Award, given to an author whose lifetime has been spent “helping adolescents become aware of themselves and addressing questions about their role and importance in relationships, society, and in the world.” Think about that for a second. His views on LGBT individuals are seen as irrelevant to his audience and yet he is rewarded for the other messages he sends to his audience.

Homophobia is also very present in his work. Remember his Hamlet fan-fiction (a practice he resents when applied to his own work) which existed solely to paint Hamlet’s father as a gay molester? It’s a little touch to play Death of the Author when said author is determined to continue the homophobic tango.

This isn’t just about me saying “I won’t support a man whose views I disagree with”, this is about refusing to fund said views. I can’t give my money to a man who will inevitably give it to something I completely oppose. We live in a capitalist world where money talks and I can’t allow myself to fund something that destroys lives, including the lives of many people I love.

Why does this matter so much to Card? In a world where so much misery exists, why would we want to deny a moment of happiness, security and equality to others? Why would we want to make an already vulnerable group of people feel even more scared and alone? We’re all fighting to be less alone in this world. We talk about how It Gets Better, but we should be working equally as hard to make sure It’s Better Now. For me, one hugely important step towards showing LGBTQ teenagers that we support them is to take a stand against the bullies, because while Scott would like to warn you all about the evil homosexual agenda taking over our society, the truth is he’s on top in these cases, because he’s a rich straight cis white guy with a massive public platform. However, he’s also on the wrong side of history. We can make sure of that.

Boycotts are one effective method for making your voice heard, but please also consider taking that money you may have spent on a cinema ticket and donating it to a worthy cause.

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