You may or not be aware of the controversy surrounding this seemingly innocent movie. You may not be aware of the movie at all. After all, in the UK, the book it’s based on hardly hit The Hunger Games sales figures.
The film is based on a 1985 novel by author Orson Scott Card and features a boy called Ender training to battle a species of bug like aliens somewhat hilariously called ‘Buggers’. I guess that doesn’t translate to the US the same way we use it over here (they’re rebranded Formics for the film). The story isn’t the issue, reviews are positive and the novel won various awards.
So why are there calls to boycott the film from the US rights groups? The problem is with the author. Simply put, Card hates LGBT people. No, really. Here are some choice quotes:
- In 1990, Card suggested anti-homosexuality laws should “remain on the books, not to be indiscriminately enforced against anyone who happens to be caught violating them, but to be used when necessary to send a clear message that those who flagrantly violate society’s regulation of sexual behaviour cannot be permitted to remain as acceptable, equal citizens within that society.”
- Card is firmly against same-sex marriage. “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.”
- Card was on the board of National Organisation for Marriage, a group that opposes same-sex unions.
- He drops pearls of wisdom like this: “The dark secret of homosexual societythe one that dares not speak its nameis how many homosexuals first entered into that world through a disturbing seduction or rape or molestation or abuse, and how many of them yearn to get out of the homosexual community and live normally.”
- And this: “I was not trying to show that homosexuality was ‘beautiful’ or ‘natural’in fact, sex of any kind is likely to be ‘beautiful’ only to the participants, and it is hard to make a case for the naturalness of such an obviously counter-evolutionary trend as same-sex mating.”
It goes on and on. It’s interesting that Card has attempted to distance himself from these comments in 2013, when it became clear he was damaging the prospects of the film adaptation. Indeed, Card has not been included on panels with the film’s cast and Lionsgate publicly came out in support of gay marriage.
Interestingly, ‘Milk’ screenwriter Dustin Lance Black and the film’s star, Harrison Ford, have spoken out against the boycott suggesting that the people who worked on the film are pro same-sex marriage and that the film promotes inclusion. Is it pointless to boycott a film when Card has already received his rights money?
I’m not so sure. Granted my box office money wouldn’t be lining a homophobe’s pocket directly, but going to see the film feels like tacit approval. If it’s a success you can bet your bottom Hollywood dollar that other properties of his will be snapped up. What also bothers me is that in their quest for a new Potter, Lionsgate didn’t do the most fundamental research on Card. IT’S ON HIS WIKIPEDIA, PEOPLE. It’s a shame they made a film with liability attached but perhaps an even bigger shame no one thought to not pay such a hateful man money right at the get go. I’m not going to feel bad for the studio. Didn’t anyone, cast or crew, think to google him?
This is not about religion. Most Mormon (Card has hidden behind his religion as a defence) people are pro gay-marriage – at least the ones I’ve chatted to about this on Twitter. This is about a man who hates gay people. I am a gay person and I’ll be damned if I go see his film. It’s a personal choice, of course – it’ s a big half-term movie and I’m sure kids will love it, but I think everyone should know the background.
It’s an interesting message to authors, I think, the message being – you represent your work. An author and their books are permanently entwined. Card isn’t the only author I won’t read because of their douchey public behaviour. Watch yo mouth, folks.
UPDATE: I was in a bookshop earlier and saw a lovely nice big pile of the original Orson Scott Card novels now with a film tie-in. It suddenly occurred to me that actually the film IS directly lining a homophobe’s pockets – I’m quite sure sales of this tie-in will be doing very nicely indeed. A quick check on Amazon confirms this.
It pisses me right off. It shouldn’t but it does. People can buy whatever books they want to buy, but it stings. This is a man who hates me. He hates my boyfriend. He hates my friends who are basically my family. I tell you what, why don’t we take the £7.99 for the book and just pay it straight into my newly set up HATE FOUNDATION?
I guess the problem is that Lionsgate have (unwittingly) endorsed a homophobe, as have Orbit, the UK publisher. It troubles me because I KNOW he’s a homophobe, but most filmgoers and Waterstones browsers don’t. While the book isn’t subliminally suggesting people hate LGBT people it is making a bad man richer in my opinion. Yes, I am allowed one.
Anyway, that’s why I won’t be seeing this YA adaptation.