In less than one hour, the midnight premier of Gavin Hood’s Ender’s Game will hit movie theatres across the country. Ender’s Game stars Asa Butterfield, Harrison Ford, and Ben Kingsley and depicts a post-apocalyptic Earth being invaded by aliens, a young boy, Ender (Asa Butterfield) proves himself to be the greatest hope in ensuring Earth’s survival. Reviews of the films have thus far been positive citing Asa Butterfield’s portrayal of Ender as “intuitive.” The movie is based on a young-adult novel of the same name by Orson Scott Card, which has won the Nebula Award and the Hugo Award both for best novel. In addition, the United State’s Marine Corps recommends this book for new recruits for its depiction of ethics and leadership in combat.
Coming of age novels such as these seem to come with a fair amount of controversy surrounding it. When the Harry Potter series premiered in 1997 in print and again in 2001, Christian groups (in this country at least) that could only be call extremists were against the portrayal of witchcraft in such an accessible way to the malleable minds of children. The Hunger Games faced similar controversy for the frank depiction of violence at the hands of children against other children.
However, these seem to be focused around plot points in the novels and movies. Ender’s Game seems to face a different challenge in that the controversy focuses on Orson Scott Card’s personal politics.
Orson Scott Card’s views on homosexuality and same-sex marriage are the focus on the controversy of this film. As of yet, nothing on screen has come under fire as much as Card’s social opinions. Saying that paraphilia and homosexuality are connected, that any government that supports same-sex marriage is a mortal enemy, and advocating political enforcement on actions between two connecting adults have all put Card in a problematic position.
Even though he sold his rights years ago and had no input in Hood’s adaptation, these politics have come into the spotlight again. Lionsgate, the studio behind the film, have come out so to speak to distance themselves from Card’s views, as did Harrison Ford.
My question lies in this, where do we separate the author and the work? This movie is an adaptation of a book expanded from short-story by Card. It is twice removed from him and is legally removed as well. He receives no additional monies from this project, but still gains so much attention from this movie. This seems to be rooted in the same argument in boycotting Chick-fil-a, but Card receives no royalties from ticket sales or movie showings to fund National Organization for Marriage. And yet, his (frankly) homophobic views seem inseparable from Hood’s adaptation.
What do we do? Do we boycott this movie because of Card’s opposition to same-sex marriage? Or do we trust the studio and actors to have distanced themselves enough from this?
I think we should go see it.
- Shelf Life – Playing the Boycott Card? (comicbookresources.com)
- Orson Scott Card ‘won’t profit’ from Ender’s Game film (theguardian.com)
- ‘Ender’s Game’ Carried by Gifted Young Actor (hispanicbusiness.com)
- ‘Ender’s Game’: remarkable effects and a story with heart – The Seattle Times (seattletimes.com)
- Poll: Will author’s views keep you from ‘Ender’s Game’? (timesunion.com)