A few months ago there was much talk of a boycott of the movie version of Ender’s Game, due the the fact the author of the book the film is based on, Orson Scott Card, has voiced extremely anti-gay views and been at the front of the fight against gay marriage.
It’s cast a bit of a pall over the marketing of the movie, and often felt slightly like the elephant in the room. The filmmakers have already distanced themselves from Card (the author will have nothing to do with the promotion of the movie), and now director Gavin Hood and star Harrison Ford have once more felt the need to speak out against Card at a promotional event for the movie in London.
Gavin Hood said (via The Guardian), “It’s well known Orson Scott Card and I have different views on the issue of gay marriage and gay rights … It has been a real dilemma for me: I love the book Ender’s Game, it’s all about tolerance and compassion, and understanding the other. When I first read the book I was deeply moved by a story aimed at young people that I could share with my children and access ideas in a way that was exciting for them, and yet allowed us to talk about compassion, tolerance, diplomacy, even.
“The themes of the novel are so important to me – drone warfare, the way games and reality merge in the modern world, the way we hide behind a computer screen, that young people are seduced into war – and I love them from the book. It’s very difficult for me to reconcile that with his clearly contrary views to the ones I hold on the issue of gay rights.
“Should I not have made the film because of his views? I wrestled with that, and you know what? I thought: if I don’t put these ideas out on screen we wouldn’t be having this conversation. We are having this conversation precisely because the themes of the book are at odds with his current ideas. I’m very proud of the film, and I felt strongly that I didn’t want to lose my love of this book because its creator seems to be in a different zone to me on this issue.”
“It’s hard. We love the music of Richard Wagner, but he was a deep antisemite. I love Braveheart, but I don’t like what Mel Gibson has been saying about Jewish people. Art and their creators often diverge. Art is an expression of our higher selves and we who make art don’t always measure up to the art we create.”
Ford added, “This movie doesn’t address any of those issues [gay rights]. It was written 28 years ago; it’s a very impressive act of imagination that he could predict the internet, and that he could predict drone warfare … There is nothing in the film or the book addressing his current dispositions, or prejudices. We care about the positive aspects of the story we are telling.”
You can understand where they’re coming from, but the worry has always been that Card is likely to have a deal where he gets paid bonuses based on how much the movie grosses, so going to see the film could inadvertently fund the author’s anti-gay activities. Some still plan to continue with the boycott, while some have suggested watching the film but doing a kind of offset by donating to pro-gay charities. Others however agree that the film should be divorced from its creator and we should see them as two separate entities.