I went through an Orson Scott Card phase while I was in graduate school. I started with his most famous novel, Ender’s Game, which I enjoyed immensely. I then proceeded, over the next year or so, to read all of the novels he had written to that point.
At that time I didn’t know anything about Card as a person, but there were clues in his novels. Though I enjoyed most of his novels, there were a few lemons in the batch as well. Most egregiously, there was an awful piece of dreck called Pastwatch: The Redemption of Christopher Columbus. The title should have been a giveaway.
Then there was his Tales of Alvin Maker series. I rather liked the first three novels. The religious overtones were hard to miss (Alvin Maker was pretty clearly Jesus), but they were not overbearing and didn’t spoil anything for me. Alas, Card’s restraint failed him in the later novels, and I felt like I was just reading Christian propaganda.
I learned that Card was a Mormon by reading his novel Saints, which was a fictionalized account of the history of the Mormon church. At eight hundred pages, it’s a big novel. The first two hundred or so zip about very nicely, but then the Mormons show up and the book goes downhill. Among other things, the novel contains a defense of polygyny, which, it turns out, has nothing to do with male dominance over women.
All of which is my long-winded away of introducing the real subject of this post. The movie version of Ender’s Game is about to come out. Normally that’s the sort of movie I’d look forward to seeing. The trouble is that Card turns out to be something of a lunatic when it comes to politics, especially on the subject of gay marriage. You see, he has sometimes been in the habit of saying things like this:
How long before married people answer the dictators thus: Regardless of law, marriage has only one definition, and any government that attempts to change it is my mortal enemy. I will act to destroy that government and bring it down, so it can be replaced with a government that will respect and support marriage, and help me raise my children in a society where they will expect to marry in their turn.
Biological imperatives trump laws. American government cannot fight against marriage and hope to endure. If the Constitution is defined in such a way as to destroy the privileged position of marriage, it is that insane Constitution, not marriage, that will die.
That strikes me as a bit overwrought.
Realizing that these views might now hurt his bottom line, Card has issued a squirrely little statement:
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.
A second ago he was calling for the violent overthrow of any government that dares to legalize gay marriage. Now he’s asking for tolerance. You know, for those who disagreed. What a charming fellow.
Here’s another interesting response to Card’s statement.
So, I think I will just take a pass on this particular movie. I suspect that’s not a big sacrifice, since, science fiction movies being what they are, it’s likely to be disappointing anyway.
Alexandra Petri takes a different view:
If you are only willing to support artists who agree with you, you wind up stuck with a lot of mediocre art. That people hold views you share does not mean they will write better books than people who go home and do horrible things to their house pets. If only there were some correlation. It would be so much easier. But given the choice, I’d rather have despicable artists and great art than creators with sedate, tolerant lives who made things that were dull and ugly. If you believe art changes things, of course that’s what you want. The more good art you have, the better for humanity.
Very eloquent! But we’re talking about Ender’s Game here, not great art. And we’re talking about an especially vicious advocate of a view that has been harmful to people I actually know. Perhaps it reflects badly on me, but those considerations would make it more difficult for me to enjoy the movie.
On the other hand, I do still like Harrison Ford…