Friday, March 8, 2013

Detachment


There's a movie coming out shortly, called Enders Game. It's based on a superb book,  a classic sci-fi novel by a chap called Orson Scott Card. It probably helped that I first read it when I was probably about 12. So I'm a little nervous about the movie. I regard the book being mostly about the psychology and the appalling situations that the main character (Ender) is put in. I'm not sure how that's going to translate to the big screen.

I might not go see it on the big screen though. When an author becomes outspoken on social issues (in a non literary capacity) it can become hard to separate your idea of them from their work. For example, over the past few years, I've not found the Dilbert cartoons to be particularly funny. Ever since I found out exactly what sort of anti science, rabid climate change denier type knob that the author Scott Adams is.

It's an odd thing this association. Emma Hart was talking about it yesterday - the idea that with art, it shouldn't matter how horrid the artists was, the piece of art itself remains beautiful, if it was beautiful to begin with etc. With writing though, Emma suggests, and I think I agree that it's different. I don't say this because it should be, I say this because this is what I have found to be the case for me.

Enders Game was and remains for me, a great book. I've read several of Card's other books, none of which have been as good. I'm moderately confident that they aren't as good because I can recall reading some of them before I found out a couple of years ago, what a major asshat Card is. I knew fairly early on he was a Mormon. That didn't bother me to much. Being a complete homophobe and  fully on board with the idea of overthrowing governments that legalize gay marriage - that bothers me.
 " 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"
"Because when government is the enemy of marriage, then the people who are actually creating successful marriages have no choice but to change governments, by whatever means is made possible or necessary. "
Maybe his personal views shouldn't bother me and I should look on the movie as a piece of art detached from Card. I don't seem to be able to though. And as Emma points out, some of the money this movie makes is going to find it's way back to Card and support him in his endeavours. As a result of his stated views on gays and gay marriage there are, understandably I think, a large number of people who are not particularly fond of Card. A significant number of those people are geeks - by virtue of the fact that Card's audience prior to his activism was primarily sci-fi fans.

Then a short while ago, it was revealed that DC had retained the services of Mr Card to write a special edition of Superman. This news was not taken ... well, by many people. Having a hero who is meant to uphold the idea of a land free of hate (amongst other things) written by a writer so obviously full of it is disturbing. There were/are petitions calling on DC to not publish Cards story. The artist booked to draw Cards story withdrew.  There's even mutterings that the studio putting out Enders Game is getting a little nervous about fronting Card at various sci-fi conventions as part of the promotions for the movie.

Some have suggested that this is an abrogation of Card's right to free speech. You should all know where I stand on that particularly facile argument - the right to free speech does not guarantee a platform, it should only ensure that no governmental authority is able to censure what you. Besides, it works both ways. Claiming that protests against someone should stop because they violate that persons free speech are pretty much calling for the free speech of the protesters to be quashed. DC deciding not to publish the comic written by Card would DC listening to their customers who don't want to support a venture that supports Card and in turn supports his activism against either themselves or their friends and families. I really don't see anything wrong with that.

The best summary of the arguments against supporting either the Superman comic or the movie are here, read them. I won't be buying the comic - not that I would have anyway, but I don't think I'll go see the movie either. The total proportion of my money making it's way back to card would be small. I'm just not comfortable with any of it getting back to him.

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