Ender’s Game Trailer and some Thoughts on Orson Scott Card

Well the first trailer for Ender’s Game is here and boy, do I have some thoughts.

For the uninitiated, Ender’s Game is a science fiction novel that practically all sci-fi reading nerds have read and loved. There has been rumors or actual movies in the works for years and years and it finally is seeing realization. Upon watching the trailer I can say I was extremely impressed by what I’ve seen so far.

Now I have several reservations:

1. There is a MAJOR spoiler at the end of the trailer: I’m not sure if it’s on the level of Hulk catching Iron Man bad, but hot damn its weird to see the end of the book in the last few frames of the trailer. If you’ve never read the book, you won’t have any idea that it is a spoiler. However, if you’re in the theater you mind might flash back to the trailer and you’ll think, “OH damn I know how this works out!”

And fair warning folks, there’s a plot twist in Ender’s Game that they’ll probably ruin in an upcoming trailer. If you want to see this movie, just skip all further footage.

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2. Battles! They are showing a lot of space battles up front in the trailer. For a book that takes place 90% in the Battle School and a good 70% of that is in the zero g training room, there’s not a ton of space combat in Ender’s Game aside from Ender looking up a lot of old battle footage. I’m hoping that the trailer can match the final product and that we’re not being teased.

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3. Orson Scott Card is a Tremendously Huge Douche Bag: Now for the big one. When I say Orson Scott Card is a douche bag, I don’t mean it in the same sense as when I say Micheal Bay is a douche bag, no Card is much worse. Card is a huge anti-gay bigot that has stated that gays should be thrown in jail for being gay. I’m fully expecting to be a huge nerd civil war over whether or not to see Ender’s Game. After all, if you pay money to see this film, are you not supporting a bigot?

Personally, I look at this in a couple of different ways. I used to love Orson Scott Card. Ender’s Game was hugely influential on me and Card’s “How to Write Science Fiction and Fantasy” guided me for a long time while I attempted to write fiction.

Since finding out he’s a pile of crap, I haven’t purchased a single Card book. I’ve gotten them all from the library. When my Dad bought the audio books of the Ender’s Game series, he let me have them when he was done so I could listen (and I got a few of him at Half Price Books second hand anyway). If you don’t agree with an author morally or politically there’s no better place to still read their works without financially supporting them. Now with this movie, I have to make a decision… do I support bigotry?

I have an English degree (hard to imagine, huh?) and during my college studies the concept of the text existing outside of the author was something that got drilled into me. For example, you don’t read a text to interpret what the author intended, you read it and interpret the text on its own merits. That’s how I see Ender’s Game. It’s the same way some people justify their love of Wagner. They don’t support Nazism, they enjoy Wagner’s music separate from the jizz bag that made it.

In the case of Wagner he’s long dead and he’s not getting money for his works, where Card is rolling in Ender’s Game dough. So in the end you’re giving money to a royal butt hole if you see the movie. It’s hard to argue against that point, so I won’t. I’ll just accept it for what it is. I’m totally an ass for giving money to see a movie based on a book written by a bigot, but I don’t support that bigot’s belief system. If you want to believe that I do support bigotry by going to see this film, then I won’t argue that. I apologize.

Update: It’s been brought to my attention that a movie is made by many people who don’t all share the same belief system where a book is usually the sole product of one author (perhaps with influence from an editor). I don’t know if that makes any kind of difference for those on the fence about this one.

Thanks to: Grape Soda

  • Aria

    This is how you see the movie but not give the douche your money- buy a ticket for a different movie but go watch Ender’s Game instead. Or see Ender’s Game after watching a different movie. Easy!

  • But what if I get caught? I’ll get kicked out of the theater! Maybe they’ll take my Junior Mints away!!!

  • Jon

    I disagree that you are an ass for supporting Ender’s Game. Along the line of any project, there are going to be people: be it investors, writers, directors, etc. that probably believe the same things as Orson that you don’t even know you are supporting. Is it better to support the silent bigot or the one that puts his thoughts out there? I don’t really know.

    I’ve always functioned by separating the text from the author. A lot of great people have really terrible views.

    But also on the support thing, I doubt Orson Scott Card assembled a project team of like-minded actors, directors, camera people, and all. I doubt he assembled a team at all, that was all done for him. By supporting the movie you are probably supporting a whole bunch of careers of good like minded people that don’t neccessarily share the disgusting views of the creator. Your support is probably doing a lot more good for a lot of people that are not him, and I think that is reassuring. Sure he is going to get a lot of money, but some camera man is going to get to add Ender’s game to his resume.

    I think you are a little too hard on yourself about the idea of supporting the movie. Especially if it has been such an influence on you.

  • deej

    “… during my college studies the concept of the text existing outside of the author was something that got drilled into me. For example, you don’t read a text to interpret what the author intended, you read it and interpret the text on its own merits.”??

    It’s also worth noting that this approach espoused by New Criticism was itself an often conservative movement within literary studies from the 1930s through the 1950s, and one that has a history of being used to argue against letting professors teach gay or black or immigrant (etc.) literature. The argument went that if you focus on the text only, then one must agree that Shakespeare or Dickens or Hemmingway is best and is what should be taught. This argument resurfaced hardcore during the culture wars of the 1980s and can be found almost verbatim in a piece by then Secretary of Education, William Bennett (who until recently you could find on CNN as a conservative talking head), titled “To Reclaim a Legacy” (1984). ??

    The New Critical approach to teaching literature that focuses solely on the text was a largely conservative, anti-historical, and anti-social approach used to prop up classic dead white writers, to side-step the social impact of teaching misogynistic/racist/bigoted writers, and often used to keep non-white, non-male writers out of academia.

    So you can probably guess if I’ll be seeing Ender’s Game in the theater or not ;)

  • While I haven’t looked into the issues that you present here, I respect your opinion. I do have a question. Not one of those questions one asks in order to try to bait a person into making a point, but rather a genuine question. If H.P. Lovecraft were alive today and he still held his super controversial thoughts on other races, would you boycott all of his works too? Or after a certain point is it a mute issue if the author is dead?

  • deej

    Good question; I had to think about this for a bit. In answer to your question, I think that the use of the term “boycott” highlights an important, but problematic, part of this conversation: the intersection between art/entertainment and politics/economics. I won’t be going to see Ender’s Game in the theater (boycott, if you will), because I don’t want to give money to Card or support a corporation who supports Card. But I’ll see it eventually. I’ll probably borrow it from the library or catch it on TV or Netflix.

    This connects back to what I was writing earlier in how I approach Lovecraft. The New Critical approach states that I should think only about the text itself, that it doesn’t matter that Lovecraft hated immigrants or that he was a racist. This approach would lead to obscuring what I think is an important reading of Lovecraft that connects these important aspects of his own personal thoughts on race with how he thinks about horror. For example, a number of Lovecraft’s stories are essentially about a terror invoked by miscegenation, the mixing of races. In The Shadow over Innsmouth, what really grosses the narrator out is that the fish people bred with humans. The ancient fish people are scary, but half fish people/half-humans are what provoke utter disgust and horror from the narrator. The disgust the narrator feels in Shadow over Innsmouth is only an amplification of the disgust that Lovecraft personally expresses over racial and interracial issues in his letters.

    I don’t think that Lovecraft’s bigotry is acceptable. On the other hand, I don’t think that reading Lovecraft makes one a bigot. But I do think it is important to acknowledge Lovecraft’s racism, to understand how it plays out in his works, to think about the historical context in which he was writing, and, at least for me, to be able to condemn that aspect while at the same time enjoying his style, plot, mythos, etc. The focus solely on the text is a form of literary studies that does not want these questions asked or these issues considered, or at the very least doesn’t think that they are important.

    The complicated part, I think, is how does this translate into practice? In so many ways in our contemporary culture, we vote with our wallets. For Lovecraft, it’s sort of a non-issue since his works are now out of copyright. When I bought the Library of America collection of Lovecraft’s tales (which is awesome), I was giving money to the Library of America, not to Lovecraft. However, seeing Ender’s Game in the theater does give money to Card, does give money to a corporation that supports Card, and in many ways gives his views a sense of legitimacy by also keeping him in the public eye which gives him a soapbox for his views. I don’t think Card books should be banned, or that nobody should ever read his work, but I do think it is important that we not gloss over the bigotry that stands behind his works. And, for me, this means that I won’t add my little part to the film’s box office gross.

  • Thanks for your well thought out input!

    Your comment made me think about how I re-read Ender’s game for hatred of homosexuals. I’ve read people’s arguments saying that it’s a homophobic book. While there is a bit about making fun of a boy for looking at other boy’s butts that’s kind of a boy thing to do. The big question is whether the “buggers” represent homosexuality in any way, which I don’t think so. Particularly because in the sequels Ender regrets his actions and helps to rebuild their race. To me that would represent an acceptance of homosexuality if they are interpreted that way, which clearly Card has not achieved.

    Regardless, Card is a douche spigot and I’d rather not pay to see the movie in the theater because of his attachment to it, but I will. It’s something I have to live with.