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The Pecman

Protest Against Anti-Gay Superman Writer (2/2013)

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An interesting battle is underway in the current issues of Superman comic books, where noted anti-gay marriage proponent and religious bigot Orson Scott Card has been announced as a writer for the long-running superhero series.

I try to see both sides of this: I think Card's science fiction work is often quite good, and I enjoyed the first couple of his award-winning Ender's Game novels (soon to be a major motion picture this summer). But I also think it's a slippery slope to censor and author and not let them say what they want. And yet... I also think people should be allowed to boycott any commercial product if they don't like the person or people behind it.

The full story is here:

http://www.theverge....-write-superman

I personally think Card should be allowed to make a living, and I also think -- as a man -- he's a putz who's outspoken, horribly bigoted, and a judgemental, awful human being. But: I don't doubt the story could be quite good. I haven't read their comics in about three decades, so it's not something I have a huge interest in, but I'm uncomfortable that a publisher would be under pressure by protest groups concerning a guy who may not be using that medium to express his beliefs. (In other words, I tend to doubt Superman is going to be speaking for or against gay marriage anytime soon.) Not a simple black or white issue.

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Wow, the protest is heating up to the point where it made the cover of Entertainment Weekly this week. Apparently, different artists are now quitting the comic book rather than be perceived as being part of Orson Scott Card's anti-gay rights agenda:

http://www.usatoday....-comic/1964845/

http://www.theverge....tist-steps-down

http://www.wired.com...superman-comic/

I still think this is a slippery slope, when we could have a country where even a despicable person can't make a living in a creative business like writing, music, or film just because they have unpopular opinions. To me, freedom of speech has to extend even to people who have bad things to say, like Nazis or homophobes. If that's allowed, then eventually it turns into, "the only people who have the right to create are those who agree with me," and that's not right.

Note that Entertainment Weekly is saying there's already a growing protest against the upcoming big-budget sci-fi film Ender's Game, based on Card's series of novels. I think it'd be sad if a good movie failed because the guy who generated the idea for it was an asshole. If people refused to buy music, see films, or watch TV shows solely because they didn't agree with the philosophy, religion, or culture of the idiots who made them, I think half of entertainment would disappear. To me, you have to like or hate the work separately from what you think of the work's creator.

And don't get me wrong: Orson Scott Card is an obnoxious, opinionated, anti-gay, Mormon asshole. I'm just not convinced that this alone also makes him a bad writer, or also that this alone is enough for people to shun his work.

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Can't imagine that movie. A bunch of six- through eight-years-olds running around naked, boys and girls, and fighting each other? And while I've heard they raise the age from six to 12 or 13 for the film, I don't see how that makes any difference.

I guess they'll probably still let them fight and bloody each other, just not naked. Because, of course, violence is OK and nudity is bad.

C

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I don't deny Orson Scott Card the right to write, nor do I deny DC Comics the right to hire whomever they choose to write for them. But, if DC actively chooses a writer they know to be an ignorant bigot to represent them, then readers have the right to refuse to buy their product and employees have the right to quit rather than be forced to work with said ignorant bigot. This is not censorship. This is capitalism and democracy. Card's not going to starve from lack of readers. There are plenty of publishers who will sell his work. I enjoyed Ender's Game and would like to see the movie, but I didn't know Card's views at the time and I will probably not pay to see the movie.

I accept that not everyone in America would like to read the stories I write. I don't consider it censorship. I consider it freedom. DC has the freedom to hire Card, and Americans have the freedom to tell them to drop dead.

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Fighting isn't part of the 'game'. The game is played with freeze guns that immobilize the targets. There are two or three fights that take place outside of the game when Ender is being bullied.

And there's like one mention of a girl changing her clothes in front of the boys and a fight in a shower and everything else is fully clothed. Plus I think the ages go up to 14 in the book. Ender was 11 or 12 at the end of it.

Dude, did you read the book a really long time ago or something?

Pecman: Re: artists being blacklisted by owners/producers, I'm fine with it. I'm against govt censoring artists, but if a corporation doesn't want to hire a sculptor to design a piece for their lobby because the sculptor denies the Armenian genocide or if a church decides not to hire a painter to create a mural of Jesus because the painter is gay...I think that's just freedom of association at work. Let it be.

I've got no fondness for the idea of an Ender movie, because I think the book is unfilmable. So much of it is cerebral and non visual that I cannot see it working well enough to do the book justice. So protests against the movie don't make me feel bad. Well, except for the actors, grips, sound guys etc who might suffer, but my understanding is that for the most part they get paid fixed fees no matter what the movie makes.

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Can't imagine that movie. A bunch of six- through eight-years-olds running around naked, boys and girls, and fighting each other? And while I've heard they raise the age from six to 12 or 13 for the film, I don't see how that makes any difference.

All good questions. Me personally, I think it'll be a very tough movie to make, not only because of the violence -- a fight to the death with naked boys in a shower (!!!) -- but also because Ender's Game is a very intellectual movie with a lot of hard sci-fi concepts and an equal amount of politics, too much in fact. I think Ender himself was 7 or 8 when he was first sent up to the training ship, and they've changed this to 13 (actor Asa Butterfield, formerly seen in Hugo, is now 15). Ender actually kills at least two other kids while on the ship, both justified, but that kind of thing is very rare in film -- Hunger Games notwithstanding.

fl-enders-game_810x543.jpeg

I agree with Steven above that on the surface, the book seems to be unfilmmable, despite winning the major Hugo and Nebula awards. The fact that they've almost finished the film (and it's now in post) is pretty amazing. I just hope they didn't water down the main content too much, and they kept it as grim, serious, and yet also human as the book. As I've said, I think Card is sometimes a good writer, but he's often a flaming jerk as a human being. The Superman comic book he was going to write is now reportedly cancelled, as the publisher has pulled back from the controversy.

Here's a story on how Card's anti-gay-marriage stance may affect the film:

http://www.hollywood...oversy?page=all

Note also that the film was supposed to come out right about now, but has been pushed back to November. This tells me there may be some production issues, like reshoots, and also that there could be visual effects problems. With Card's controversy mixed in, I'm sure Disney is very concerned about how to handle a big-budget SF feature like this. This could potentially become another John Carter-sized mess.

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I think he only killed one kid on the ship and the other was before he got there in a regular school setting. The fact that Ender took a regular schoolyard fight to the death is supposed to show his knack for finishing off an enemy. Which is an example of why I feel this story would be hard to film. In the book, we see Ender's process as he's kicking the bully repeatedly. He's focused on making sure that the bully AND ALL WITNESSES know not to mess with him in future. He's not trying to kill, just trying to be complete in victory and indeed, never finds out he killed the kid until years later.

I suppose they could have a lame talking to the counsellor type scene where he explains all this, but then it loses immediacy.

On the other hand, I hadn't realized Harrison Ford was in this. I'll see him in anything.

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Steven, you were obvioulsy very enamored of the book. I didn't read it long ago. I read it last year. I wasn't so taken with it. I found many elements in it to question, and things that to me could have easily represented repressed homosexual feelings on the part of the author.

I realize I'm in the minority with those thoughts. I also recognize that I read it with foreknowlege of Card's homophobia. My view could easily be tainted by that.

C

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I think he only killed one kid on the ship and the other was before he got there in a regular school setting.

No, Ender killed one kid very early on, but the commandants didn't tell him; instead they just commented, "oh, the other boy was injured and we sent him back to Earth to recover." Later on, when the jealous boy organizes a group against Ender, he attacks him in the shower and Ender is forced to fight to the death. The Harrison Ford character already knows that Ender's test scores were off the charts, so he already suspected that Ender had the intelligence, the cunning, and the determination to be the front-runner among all the candidates.

In the book, we see Ender's process as he's kicking the bully repeatedly. He's focused on making sure that the bully AND ALL WITNESSES know not to mess with him in future. He's not trying to kill, just trying to be complete in victory and indeed, never finds out he killed the kid until years later.

Yes, that was clearly the intent, given that we get inside Ender's head and we understand his thought process. Much is made of the fact that Ender is smaller and slighter than the other boys -- in fact, my partner just reminded me that Ender uses his size as a weapon to gain access to all the vents in the spaceship so he can sneak around the forbidden offices and snoop, which he has to do naked because the clothes contain tracking devices. I think in the movie, there's a device in the back of the kids' necks, if I judge the production photos correctly.

enders-game_510.jpg

I think the follow-up book, Ender's Shadow, is actually a much better book: it tells pretty much the exact same story but from the character Bean's point of view, and I think it benefits from Card having another decade's worth of experience as a writer. Bean winds up essentially becoming Ender's second-in-command and helps him defeat the enemy. I also read the books knowing Card's homophobia, which made me raise an eyebrow at the predominance of mostly-male adolescent characters, particularly the nudity and fighting.

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The thing in the necks might be the monitors used to select candidates for the Battle School. Ender has his removed at the beginning of the book and I don't think it's put back.

I never read Ender's Shadow, but the sneaking around in vents was probably Bean in that book. Sneaking fits Bean's personality and size better. Ender in Ender's Game never did that kind of thing.

My understanding is that the movie will combine the two books, so there's likely will be vent sneaking involved.

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I also read the books knowing Card's homophobia, which made me raise an eyebrow at the predominance of mostly-male adolescent characters, particularly the nudity and fighting.

I'm glad I wasn't the only one to note this. There were several things that really made me wonder about Card. There was an overtone in the book, the first one -- I wasn't interested in reading the second -- that really seemed to have strong homosexual context.

If Card has been fighting his own homosexual feelngs all his life, it would certainly explain some of the virulence of his rhetoric on the matter.

C

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My understanding is that the movie will combine the two books, so there's likely will be vent sneaking involved.

Naked? :angel2[1]: [Hey, the kid will be 16 next month, so it's almost legal.]

There was an overtone in the book, the first one -- I wasn't interested in reading the second -- that really seemed to have strong homosexual context.

Seriously, read Ender's Shadow -- there's a ton of additional details in there that are omitted from Ender's Game, and again... it's the exact same story, with the main detail being that it's told from Bean's point of view. We find out some major twists, particularly in Bean's role in changing... nope, not gonna reveal that. Let's just say there's a lot going on with Bean.

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