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Although it’s been an exciting week for me as a fansite admin who got to release some extremely cool exclusive content for the Ender’s Game movie, the timing of the release is admittedly a bit unfortunate.

To explain, a couple of weeks ago, DC Comics announced that Orson Scott Card would be writing a chapter in an upcoming Superman anthology. Petitions flared up online and, as it has in the past, discussion after discussion emerged about his very vocal opposition to gay marriage.

As the owner of this site, I can’t deny that the subject of Orson Scott Card’s vendetta against homosexuality makes me feel all kinds of things. Awkwardness. Embarrassment.

Shame.

So why do I still do what I do? To be honest, I do it for my fellow fans. I know that people out there love Ender just as much as I do and fansites serve a very special purpose: being a specialized resource for a niche topic. A gathering place for you to nerd out over a story that resonated through you enough to make you truly feel.

I became a fan of Ender’s Game in maybe 1991 or 1992. At that time my family had no internet and so all I knew about the author was from those little bios in the backs of books that 12 year-olds pretty much never read. In short, I knew nothing but his name and hometown and therefore freely fell in love with the story of Ender and his journey through Battle School. It was at least a decade before I began to hear about his personal views and I found it so confusing. The Ender books seemed so compassionate and loving, even towards a fictional species that humanity had been taught to fear and despise.

It’s become a trend at this point that anytime something from the Ender’s Game movie is released, comments are either riddled with or overwhelmed by talk of boycotts and sometimes disgust for the movie. I understand the people who say they refuse to buy a ticket because that’s their choice, but I worry about direct protestations against the film and the actors later down the line.

It’s worrisome because I can’t seem to shake my connection to Ender and his story and it troubles me to see people taking the flamethrower aimed at Card and pointing it at Ender instead. Will people eventually turn on Asa Butterfield, Hailee Steinfeld, and Aramis Knight? The thought of protesters shouting at Asa Butterfield brings to mind an eerie parallel to what might have happened upon Ender’s homecoming post-war.

Card has said that he hasn’t even read the movie’s script, so it’s not as if he’s been hovering over the movie’s production. So will the hard work of hundreds be wasted because of the man who created the story the movie is based on?

The Hollywood Reporter recently published a piece on the controversy building around the film, talking to some studio executives for input.

“I don’t think you take him to any fanboy event,” says one studio executive. “This will definitely take away from their creative and their property.”  Another executive sums up the general consensus: “Keep him out of the limelight as much as possible.”

Ender’s insiders already are distancing themselves from the 61-year-old author. “Orson’s politics are not reflective of the moviemakers,” says one person involved in the film. “We’re adapting a work, not a person. The work will stand on its own.”

Author involvement in marketing seems to be an emerging trend now with the hyper popularity of social media, which can make one wonder if author involvement is now an essential part of the marketing engine of a film or TV series.

JK Rowling was fairly accessible throughout the decade of Harry Potter films. George R. R. Martin announced official Game of Thrones casting choices on his Livejournal. Cassandra Clare, author of the Mortal Instruments series is very active online, teasing her book fans with tidbits and teases from the movie. Fans of the newly released Beautiful Creatures could follow author Kami Garcia around the world as she attended events for the movie. Hugh Howey maintains a regular blog and vlog, which likely won’t change if Ridley Scott goes into production for Wool. Do I even need to mention Twilight author Stephenie Meyer? It’s no secret that author involvement drives fans wild with glee.

So with that in mind, can a film succeed without its author around to help promote their book’s movie adaptation? Of course it can.

The Lord of the Rings movies probably made enough money to buy a country and build a Middle Earth set to scale and Tolkien was long dead. Hunger Games author Suzanne Collins is so private she did one interview with Entertainment Weekly, published a letter reviewing the film, and attended the premiere yet did zero interviews. The movie brought in close to $700M worldwide and sold 3.8M DVDs in its first weekend.

However, intentionally keeping Card out of the movie’s marketing limelight will be more awkward than a simple shift of focus to the actors. San Diego Comic Con is fast approaching and with a new Enderverse book being released just a month prior, the odds are good that Card will be in attendance, just as he was last year. His co-author Aaron Johnston has already said he’s going. So it might look terribly odd that the movie’s author is at the Con, probably sitting in Hall H, yet not sitting on the panel. Later this year, will he walk the red carpet at the premiere or just go straight into the theater? Or will Summit just give him his own private viewing?

That might be what needs to happen to ensure that none of the anger directed at Card bleeds over to the cast. The kids worked their butts off and with the exception of Asa, Hailee, and Moises, this is their biggest role yet. For many of them, it’s their first feature film. And while I’d admire teenagers who can handle intense negative publicity indirectly pointed at them, I don’t think any of the cast should be made to feel ashamed of being in Ender’s Game. It’s their time to shine and they deserve praise and recognition.

What it boils down to is that given the way the film’s digital media has thus far never failed to attract the attention of those wanting to shout down the movie, I agree that they’ll need to keep him out of the limelight as much as they can. Hopefully in the end, despite the inevitable guilt by association, Summit can channel some Ender Wiggin and lead their movie to a box office haul worthy of Dragon Army.

The above is an opinion piece and the views expressed are my own. I am not associated with Summit Entertainment or Lionsgate.

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  • http://twitter.com/matandohoras Andi Mz

    My thoughts exactly.

  • Seraph6496

    Why does anyone give a shit what the authors political views are? Why should anyone turn what one man thinks into a public issue? The man isn’t running for public office, he wrote a science fiction book! Why the hell is it such a giant problem that he disapproves of homosexual marriage? It’s a political view that really affects no one at all. So why the hell does it matter so much???

    • rames

      It is unfortunately much more complicated than that. He is not just voicing his personal opinion, which even though you might find disgusting would fall under the call for tolerance of other people’s views. He is a political activist who uses his fame and money to actively fight the right of people to live their life the way they want to or even were born into.

      • Seraph6496

        You’re missing my point. In any sort of media, who cares what the creators views are? If they create something good, like in this case, read it, enjoy it, ok you’re done. If they create something bad, ignore it. If it was good enough to make other adaptations for, like in this case, book to movie, make the film, watch the film, enjoy the film if it was any good. The creator created the work and they should be respected for doing that. Whatever they do politically is an entirely different debate altogether.
        I know people that dont listen to certain types of music because the artist is, say, a satanist. Why does it matter what they believe for you to listen to and enjoy what they create?

        • rames

          I understand what you are saying, I just disagree. If you support a musician by buying their records even though you know that the money might be used to do something you can not ethically tolerate… this is a line many people don’t want to cross and I respect that. Many people believe that by buying an Ender’s Game movie ticket some of the money will go to Card and he will use it to support the NOM (National Organization for Marriage), a very influential lobby group that spends millions of dollars to fight marriage equality and where Card sits on the board. I don’t know if some of the money will actually go to Card or if he got paid in advance or if his contract is fixed and unrelated to the movie’s ticket sales. That’s the main reason why many people can’t just ignore this problem as you’re suggesting, even if they love the book and look forward to seeing the movie.

          • pierzstyx

            I have to agree with the OP. If I never did something because of my views of a person’s politics I would almost never read a book, or see a movie, or play a video game. Because there is always someone involved in these projects whom you will dislike, vehemently. Go back through history and this will almost always be so. Actions we consider horribly evil today, rape, pedophilia, murder, slavery, were common practices of artists and leaders we label “great.” Does that mean I should never enjoy ancient Grecian artwork because the maker was a pedophile, or that I shouldn’t admire the works of Caesar even though he was a mass murderer and a tyrant? How present does something have to be before I can enjoy their works and excuse when they do something I believe is wrong?

  • rames

    Very good article again! I will probably write something about the same subject in the near future, it has to be done. It will be very interesting to see how Summit is going to deal with what might turn out to become a major problem for Ender’s Game. The paradox is that I can’t find anything in the actual novel that could be constructed as supporting Cards radically conservative views. The story is actually well-balanced and ethical, much more so than the work of many of Card’s predecessors in the SciFi genre. You seriously would not think the author might have such radical and hateful views after having read the novel which is full of compassion and conscience, Therefore I believe that everyone who knows the book should be able to separate the work from the artist and most of those calling for a boycott probably won’t have read the book. My biggest fear is that Card might instrumentalize, directly or indirectly, the buzz around the movie for his political activism. The best thing he can do now is to resign from the NOM board, focus on himself being an (at times) brilliant author only, and enjoy some of the well-deserved praise for a beloved story.

    • http://twitter.com/EnderNet EnderWiggin.net

      Thanks Rames! I really hope your fear doesn’t come true because that would be awful and imo, very disrespectful to the actors.

    • http://www.facebook.com/Big.Impact.Media Robert Smith

      I’m amazed at the sheer ridiculousness of your view that “the best thing he can do now is to resign from the NOM board”. Are you Card’s publicist now? After reading through your posts you have forgotten that OSC has tackled this issue years before he wrote Ender’s Game with another novel called Songmaster in some very open forums of debate. His complicated theme of man/boy love and the sexual acts that solidified a friendship were FAR beyond their time (and who would expect anything else from him). There was some pretty substantial backlash from the LDS (Mormon) community after its release and the stigma of this work still pervades through that community even though he was written many books (i.e. Gert Fram), short stories, articles for the LDS magazine Ensign, Friend and Liahona, about the Mormon community itself . Many within that community (please notice I say community and not church) have ostracized him and his work for being too racy and his opinions too overt. One point that OSC makes is that the characters must be true and honest with themselves and make real choices about their lives (read Characters and Viewpoint or How to Write Science Fiction and Fantasy) for what I am talking about here). That’s why you don’t find mention of material in Ender’s Game that is “supporting Cards radically conservative views”. Here’s a quote from him on this issue (link to article provided below) “Oddly enough, even as I am attacked by some as a homophobe, I am attacked by others as being too supportive of homosexuality, simply because I cannot see individual homosexuals, in or out of my books, as anything other than human beings with as complex a combination of good and evil in them as I find within myself.” Am I trying to defend his viewpoint, no. That’s not for me to do. He has already defended, very well here –>http://www.nauvoo.com/library/card-hypocrites.html

      The petitions mentioned in this article failed to give a fair examination of the brevity and openness and the volumes of research done for his work (a point blatantly missed in the article hurry to add their personal viewpoints on the subject at hand). But they did make plenty of mention about his religion and openness about his personal beliefs. Personally, I found the petition to pull him off of writing Superman comics appalling. First, because it was generated and covered by the Huffington Post Gay and Lesbian section writers (no bias there) and secondly OSC has already written so many wonderful comic and video game story lines including Ultimate Iron Man #1, and not once has his narrative been off in the slightest.

      To address your fear “that Card might instrumentalize, directly or indirectly, the buzz around the movie for his political activism”. Who are you to judge or speculate? Your comments alone denote the “indirect” manner and who the root cause of all the controversy is… fans, not OSC. I’m always mystified by the article and comments writers who’s so-called journalism and public critique allows them to claim a back-seat to any controversy generated. It’s like saying the petition writers claim no responsibility for the petition being made or anyone signing it.

      And if that’s not enough for you, remember, this is “Gavin Hood’s Ender’s Game” NOT “OSC’s Ender’s Game”. Gavin is on the hook for this one.

      “If there is any fixed star in our constitutional constellation, it is that
      no official, high or petty, can prescribe what shall be orthodox in
      politics, nationalism, religion or other matters of opinion, or force
      citizens to confess by word or act their faith therein.” West Virginia
      State Board of Education v. Barnette, 319 U.S. 624 (1943)

      “In America, you have a right to be stupid.” Secretary of State John Kerry

  • http://www.facebook.com/juicegrenade Patrick K Purvis

    In the end… OSC’s from a different generation than I am. His work has transcended many generations and I already look forward to the day when my own son is old enough to read and enjoy the Ender series. Point being his work will continue to be passed down from father to son (as well as many other inter family/friends transactions) and it’s not his personal views about the real world that I will be passing down… The harsh truth is the legacy of Andrew Wiggin will hopefully live on for many more generations. I can only imagine the joy I’d experience as a grand father, or great grandfather even when I my children’s children begin to talk to me about Ender Wiggin, and unless he’s secretly been working on a potion to make him immortal… OSC and his political stances will fade away into nothing but a name and a short bio in the back of the book.

    • http://twitter.com/EnderNet EnderWiggin.net

      I can’t wait for my kids to get old enough to read about Ender too. It’s so rare that I find myself so bound to a book character as much as this. It was the same way with Harry Potter, though this somehow felt more “real” despite them both being fiction. Probably because HP is pure fantasy.

  • Jason

    Before I knew anything of OSCs personal views, I liked Ender’s Game and didn’t notice any homophobic writings. Because of this, Seraph I understand your point. While when the president of Chik-fil-a made his personal thoughts public, so in parallel with rames, I had little incentive to support his product because I personally didn’t agree with it. So, I think it is right for anyone to have their own views. But before people project themselves into the public view, one needs to be very careful, and think twice. Perhaps he ‘got away with it’ while just an author, but now with the attention of a major Hollywood movie???

    So, I think anytime anyone wants to hang OSCs views around this movie ought to immediately respond with the points made in the original post. This movie is not homophobic. This movie stands alone. And more importantly, lets support the careers of these budding child actors. I certainly believe they joined the cast of the movie, not for OSCs merits, but for the story. The story, the story, it is the story that everyone likes and relates too.

    • http://twitter.com/EnderNet EnderWiggin.net

      Yes, the kids all seem to be such fans of the book, just like us!

  • http://twitter.com/Palamina Iris

    Interesting article. As an adamant fan of the novel for a decade or so, I was also rather shocked and saddened to learn about the author and some of his unfortunate and downright unhealthy views only about a year ago.

    However, I quickly recovered from the shock, reminding myself that it is perfectly possible to appreciate a piece of work without approving of its creator. It’s easy to stigmatise everything about a person based one one or some unfortunate characteristics, but things just aren’t that black and white. Had ‘Ender’s Game’ been infested with his political or religious views, or a way to preach them, it would have been a completely different matter, but I was – and am – perfectly able to enjoy the novel in complete ignorance of its author’s off-page opinions.

    I can only hope others are able to treat ‘Ender’s Game’ – the novel and the upcoming movie – in the same way.

  • http://www.facebook.com/dnabgeek Jennifer Illsley Milford

    Card has a right to voice his opinions, whether Hollywood agrees with them or not. Card is Mormon. He follows the Bible (along with the other books of the Mormon faith). Do you really think he is going to take a stance against what the Bible teaches on homosexuality??? Anyone with half a brain knows this man is going to be against gay marriage and yet people are shocked and appalled by this???? It’s like getting a Christian actor to admit they think it’s wrong and being shocked by it… Come on people – use common sense. Of course someone who believes the Bible to be true is going to be against homosexuality. I’d be more shocked if he thought it was okay….

    • http://twitter.com/EnderNet EnderWiggin.net

      I guess it’s because people typically aren’t attracted to authors based on their religion unless they know them through that specific religion, so their faith isn’t really foremost in their thoughts when they think about what an author does when they’re not writing.

      I do feel that he has a right to his opinions, but I also think it’s incredibly unfair to push the heat from him onto the movie, since the book does not push this initiative and I really don’t think the movie will.

    • rokos

      Really? Like, you are really saying that anyone who believes in the bible must be against homosexuality? I don’t know, but all the Christians I know, and devoted ones at that, agree that the passages in the bible that are usually presented as evidence that homosexuality is non-Christian are debatable. I even know a devoted Christian homosexual couple, and they attend church together and are friends with the minister. I think you should rephrase your argument in terms of the inclusiveness of this stance.

      As for the matter of Card and the movie: his views are not something they just dug up (as you imply), it’s something he promotes publicly and loudly to everyone who doesn’t even ask for his opinion on the matter. But nonetheless, I completely agree with the article: the people who worked so hard to make this movie out of a book they all love dearly should not be attacked for being associated with it. They are, in a way, as much contributors to the movie as Card is, but they are not Card, and they might even disagree with Card. I don’t see actors starring in Polanski movies being yelled at by activists on the basis of Polanski once being convicted of statutory rape. I hope the same happens here.

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