Seeing Ender’s Game, The Next Big Sci-Fi Franchise Movie, Is Giving Money To Anti-Gays


Ender’s Game, Orson Scott Card’s Nebula- and Hugo Award-winning 1985 novel is getting a big-screen adaptation courtesy of X-Men Origins: Wolverine director (hasn’t he done enough?!) Gavin Hood. Hollywood’s lining up behind this as The Next Big Sci-Fi Movie Franchise, counting the geeky readers’ dollars from the Twilight series and The Hunger Games.

The impressive cast so far includes Hugo‘s Asa Butterfield as Ender, as well as Abigail Breslin, Hailee Steinfeld, Sir Ben Kingsley (if you’re nasty), the otherwise flawless Viola Davis, and Han Solo himself, craggy icon Harrison Ford. That’s serious money. Lionsgate recently moved the film’s release date back to November 2013, closer to that of Catching Fire from the same studio.

Awesome, right? The book’s regarded as a modern classic and its many devoted fans often call it “formative,” one of those early reading experiences that cement a lifelong love of sci-fi. It’s provocative, exciting, and it was chillingly prescient in an alarmist way about youth, violence and video games. Lots and lots of people love it and are excited for the movie.

Personally, meh. I read it in my favorite teacher’s social-studies class in seventh grade. I liked it well enough, it didn’t change my life. The xenophobia and naked kids were a turn-off and I didn’t quite buy the ending (now long-forgotten), so I didn’t read the sequels. And “hard” sci-fi wasn’t (still isn’t) my brand of soda—I preferred the superhero escapism of The Uncanny X-Men, Terry Brooks’s ersatz-Tolkien Shannara books and Piers Anthony’s tortured puns in the Xanth series. So, for me, the controversy is pretty one-sided.

Oh right, the controversy! You see, Orson Scott Card, “sci-ficon” and ma-jillionaire author of Ender’s Game, is an awful, gay-hating bigot! He’s on the board of the National Organization for Marriage (that bunch of funsters) and has published some pretty explicitly anti-gay screeds. I’ve gone round and round with some very close friends on the issues of separating an artist from his politics and whether the lasting contribution or widespread enjoyment of one’s works outweighs one’s personal beliefs or actions in the past. To me? Nope, and especially not if you’re alive today working against gay rights. As I said, I don’t really care about the books, so for me it’s easy: This man is our enemy. As a board member of that hate group, he’s actively campaigning against my rights.

“Regardless of law, marriage has only one definition, and any government that attempts to change it is my mortal enemy. I will act to destroy that government and bring it down, so it can be replaced with a government that will respect and support marriage.”
—Orson Scott Card

Hi! So that’s definitely beyond just having one’s opinion or respecting one’s faith (Card is a Mormon). That’s against us.

What that means for the film—and the books and the comic books and any eventual merchandise—is that my Gay Dollar ain’t goin’ anywhere near it and I would very, very actively and loudly encourage yours to do the same. So, why isn’t this being talked about? Hollywood’s gayer than a flamingo on fire but it’s show “business,” okay? I mean, the movie’s gonna be made. No corporate studio is going to pull the plug based on the kooky, ugly rantings of a sci-fi author when a potentially huge movie franchise is developing.

The topic remains, for the present, confined largely to queer blogs and predictably contentious comment sections on nerdy websites. Tor, Card’s publisher, has some interesting posts on the subject, also with the comment culture wars. Hopefully, nearer to the film’s release and the eventual media circus surrounding it, some bear-poking journos will ask the filmmakers, actors, and executives behind the film—as well as Card himself—about these connections.

It’s not that I begrudge the livelihoods of the actors or the many hundreds of people employed by a film production this size, nor those of anyone from Card’s publishing house. Far from it, but my dollar is my vote in these mercenary times and I’ll be damned if I’ll give it to one of the board members of NOM. Ender’s Game director Gavin Hood adapted the novel for the film and I have no info on Card’s deal with the studio, but it’s impossible to imagine the potential financial success of the movie and future book sales won’t further enrich him. Queer fans of the book who overlook Card’s actions and affiliations are putting gay money in NOM’s pocket. Those who insist the film’s got nothing to do with the source material’s author’s politics are rationalizing. A rising tide lifts all boats—good folks will benefit from the movie’s success (Viola Davis!)—but let’s get real.

Defenders can sagely point out that if you researched the politics of your favorite artists and only read/watched /listened to those whom you agreed with 100% you’d have no one left. That’s a conveniently reasonable generalization and it’s not on me to prove a negative, but it’s not entirely untrue nor beside the point. As a concept or a discussion point it’s well and good, but here and now, in these very real times, this guy’s on the fucking board of NOM and I’m not giving him any of my money. Are you? That’s what the Gay Dollar is about, that’s what it’s for. In modern politics, being a demographic with spending money is power. Geeks OUT! itself is about finding and utilizing the power of this community.

How responsibly are we using our power if we’re enriching our enemies?

I have no problem whatsoever totally passing on the movie and vowing never again to purchase (firsthand) another of Card’s books. It’s my money and I can decide not to support those who would see me and mine oppressed or slandered. But I know many fine, upstanding queer geeks who live for these books and are psyched for the movie. They’re conflicted, their betrayal and bewilderment run deep. What to do? Support your local library! Borrow a book or buy it from a used (and queer-run, irony!) bookshop or off of eBay. Go to the film if you’re moved to, but, without explicity or implicitly endorsing or suggesting any illegal activity, I hope you at least sneak in.

Jono Jarrett is the co-founder of Geeks OUT!, a community devoted to to connecting LGBT fans of science fiction, gaming, comic books and other genres. This post originally appeared on the Geeks OUT! blog on April 18. Photos: Nihonjoe, Tor Books

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  • Jonathonz

    Thanks for the information. I won’t be seeing this movie. Now how about the demonizing of gays in Hunger Games? That was a strange world indeed where all the gays and drag queens had taken over the world and sacrificed 23 heterosexual teenagers annually. Made me want to vomit and I wish I had been warned BEFORE spending my 13 bucks on it. I’m seeing a pattern here. Both 300 and Tron had raging homosexuals as the main villain. Funny how gays have so much power in these alternate worlds. We sure don’t have anything like that kind of power in the real world.

  • Kev C

    Science Fact: homophobes have secret homosexual feelings .. except they aren’t so secret, Nancy Scott Card.

  • Danny

    Since I disagree with the LDS Mormon belief that non-whites are the race of the devil, I’ll skip this movie.

    I figure the war between the Mormons and the Christians will occupy most of US history for the foreseeable future. I don’t think the fundie Christians will tolerate the Mormons; they seem to hate them way more than they hate gay people. Probably has to do with the LDS Mormon cult rewriting the bible and adding stuff to it which is forbidden for Christians to do. Since, for instance, Mormons teach that non-Mormons become their slaves in the afterlife, most non-Mormons don’t like Mormons for good reasons.

  • Richard Cohen

    Orson Scott Card’s books truly changed my life as a teenager – not only did they create a life-long love of sci-fi but they deeply influenced the spiritual path I would set out on (his main spiritual themes are the interconnectedness of all things and the power of Love). I read every single thing he wrote the moment it came out. But, early on, I began noticing anti-gay themes show up in his writings. As a closeted young man in the 80s, I found this very disturbing and wrote Mr. Card to complain. I never heard back but, once he began publicly condemning homosexuality in the 90s, I stopped giving him my money. This was a sad but clear choice for me as he had expanded my thinking around so many aspects of the nature of the universe. Strangely, somehow, even though he creates stories that respectfully explore relationships between varying alien species, he cannot see the basic truths of human dignity, compassion and diversity on our weary planet.

  • adam

    Well, OSC wrote the short story that originally grew into “Ender’s Game” in the late 1970s, long before he met up with NOM, and indeed, long before marriage equality was even a prominent issue to be fought over. Many of the sequels explore alienated and disaffected folks, child-prodigies who are misunderstood by adults around them, and heroes and heroines who feel they have the responsibility of saving entire species or whole planets from certain destruction. I was disappointed when I found out about Card’s politics, but my queer heart had already long been hooked. After all, if we only allow ourselves to read books and see movies penned by people with absolutely unimpeachable politics, there’s not going to be much left over to see and read.

  • Riker

    Seeing it in movie theaters gives Card none of your money. Theaters pay the production company a flat fee to rent the movie from them. They then make money off the ticket and concession sales. Your money goes to support your local theater, not NOM.

    Buying it on DVD, a small portion will go to Card. I’d suggest renting from Blockbuster when it comes out, they could use some business.

  • John

    @Riker: Whats a Blockbuster?

  • MikeE

    @Riker: seeing it in a movie theatre is STILL giving money to OSC. They may have paid a fee to play the film, but guess where that fee goes? To the studio, who have an arrangement to PAY OSC for the use of his material.

    I never read the book(s). I had no interest, despite being a sci-fi hound.

    Knowing that OSC is such a raving idiot makes me want to read the books even less. I probably won’t see the film in the theatre when it comes out. But that won’t stop millions of other people from seeing it. Maybe, just maybe, if it is widely enough spoken about, OSC’s radical views on homosexuality will open a public debate… who knows, it might shame him publicly.

  • w.e.

    I admit that I like Wagner although he was a real anti-semitic bastard. Fortunately, he is dead now, but I suppose the money still filters down to his heirs.

  • Ben

    @Jonathonz: Not to get TOO sidetracked, but what are you talking about? In Hunger Games, The Capital wasn’t full of gay people. It was just a more aesthetically flamboyant culture. In fact, if you took anything away from the culture, it should have been the opposite: No matter their appearance, people always have the capacity for justice or injustice.

  • Ben

    @MikeE: Anti-homosexuality politics aside, Speaker for the Dead – the direct sequel to Ender’s Game – is a literary masterpiece. And, despite everyone’s protests, there IS a homosexual moment (between aliens, at the fascination of the two humans studying them). Frankly, OSC’s flawed politics do sadden me, though. :/ It doesn’t mean that his books bring me any less pleasure to read; I like to separate the art from the artist. Whatever he chooses to do with his money – and whether or not I agree with that choice – I still support the artist for creating such moving art.

  • Steve

    @w.e.: Wagner’s work is no longer in copyright so his heirs inherit nothing.

  • Locke

    This same situation came up before when people realized Mr. Card wrote the script for the videogame Shadow Complex. It was a good piece of work, but people felt at odds supporting such an idiot. So what was the answer? Buy the game for $15 and donate $15 to a pro-equality charity.

    Chances are the donation will go much further to supporting your cause than the money divvied up to the studio and other parties, and if the product is good, you’ll probably enjoy yourself.

    There is nothing about Ender’s Game that supports homophobia.

  • doug105

    @Danny: You left out spiritually raping the dead trying to make them mormon, some thing that everyone new fav LDS son mitten’s has personally done.

  • Chance

    I wonder how many people who refuse to see this movie or read the author’s books went and saw the Twilight movies or read those books, not realizing (or not caring) that Stephenie Meyer is also a Mormon who ostensibly gives 10% of all the money she gets from the books, movies and merchandising to the LDS church who in turn “donates” that money to anti-gay causes. While I would like to do the “noble” thing here, I would probably be a hypocrite by doing so. And my (straight) best friend was so influenced by this book growing up that I KNOW he will want to see the movie and I support HIM even if I don’t support Orson Scott Card. Because as important as marriage equality is to me, my friends will always be more important than my politics.

  • Alex

    I used to be a lukewarm fan of Card, until I found out several years ago about his anti-gay stance. Luckily I’d never bought any of his books; at that point I decided I never will. To me there’s a distinct difference between implicitly supporting the anti gay movement by giving your money to a large organization who in part uses it for those purposes, and being a vocal antigay proponent. Thus I’d spend money on Meyers if I cared for her work, but until and unless Card loses the bigotry, I won’t be spending money on anything he’s involved with.

    What makes Card’s homophobia particularly galling is that science fiction, at it’s best, is about expanding our understanding of the human condition. One would hope that a man who’d spent decades working in the field would have more sense.

  • Chance

    The problem is, speculative fiction (sci-fi, fantasy, etc) has never–until very recently–never been a safe haven for LGBT people. Historically, sci-fi in particular has been a difficult genre to see LGBT people accurately represented in numbers and in portrayal. We would think that the speculative nature of it would allow for more gay characters and equality for those characters given the far future it is supposed to represent, but it has never been so, though the genre is starting to make some strides.

  • Codswallop

    @Chance: It’s for that exact reason that I’ve avoided giving any of my money to support Twilight despite being curious what the big deal is about. If I wanted to donate money to the LDS Church I’d mail them a check and cut out the middle man (or woman, in Meyers’ case).

    In the case of Orson Scott Card, the supposed separation of an artist from their work doesn’t cut much ice since not only is Card a NOM Board Member who has written many homophobic screeds his extreme homophobia has infected his “creative” work as well. There was a recent controversy and protest when Card’s novel “Hamlet’s Father” was reprinted by a small collector’s press.

    See, in Card’s retelling of Hamlet the old King was a gay pedophile who raped and molested Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, making them gay too (because in Card-world that’s how “it” happens) and also Horatio, who killed him for it. The ghost is lying to Hamlet about who murdered him in order to make him kill the new King (the good guy in this retelling) so he will be condemned to Hell and his father can rape him too because that’s just the kind of thing that gay people DO. “Welcome to Hell, my beautiful son. At last we’ll be together as I always longed for us to be.”

    Think about that for a moment. What kind of mentality does it take to turn Hamlet into THAT?! Is that anyone you want to make more wealthy?

    Frankly I think it’s worth protesting the decision to green-light this film in the first place. What’s next, a loving film adaption of a children’s book by Fred Phelps or David Duke? A society IS in part defined by the people whose works it celebrates.

    The only good news in this scenario is that if Wolverine in anything to go by this movie will be a reeking turd that will rightfully disappear into box office oblivion.

  • Leonard

    I must admit that I liked the book way before I knew what this A-hole was all about. While I won’t support this piece of hateful trash by going to this movie, I am positive that the book/story will outlive this hateful man’s actions.

  • TonyE

    Great article. Keep them coming.

  • Guest

    Ender’s Game was an incredible book even if its author is an insane bigot. I bet the movie will be likewise incredible. I wouldn’t keep from seeing it just because of the author’s kooky politics. Download it illegally at the very least.

    There’s also the chance that Card isn’t receiving royalties from the movie. If so one can see it with a free conscience. Especially since this isn’t gonna be a movie franchise. His other books are terrible in comparison with Ender’s Game and would probably flop if put on the big screen no matter how well the first movie does.

    I do appreciate people dragging this stuff to light. Hopefully more press might lead to greater knowledge of the royalty issue.

  • Charlie

    @Chance: I would say that one – yes that’s true – but (for me at least)the difference is that Meyer hasn’t openly stated an opposition to gay marriage. Her stories have a lot of coding in them about marriage being important but to take the position that we can’t appreciate any fiction that comes from Mormons is pretty extreme whereas Card has identified himself as specifically an enemy.

  • MikeE

    @Chance: what exactly do you mean by “very recently”?
    I’ve been reading sci-fi for 40 years, and most of the books I read 40 years ago were NOT written “at that moment” which means they were actually older than that. And I read LOTS of very positive and non-homophobic sci-fi. I have in my library multiple books that come from the 1960’s and 70’s that have positive portrayals of gay and lesbian people.

    Sci-fi has ALWAYS been a very open-minded medium, and OSC is an aberration in his vile hateful language. Most sci-fi authors have been very pro-gay.

  • WillBFair

    This is just the kind of info this community needs. So we can use our consumer dollars effectively. Maybe you queerty guys could make a chart of all the antis.

  • n900mixalot

    The book caused the end of one of my early childhood friends when it caused him to become a sci-fi snob. I moved on to anime, he moved on to this swill. and I knew that book was evil. I will never read it and definitely will not see Hunger Games either. I am not into that kind of sci fi. Borish as it is.

  • Jozef

    Ya’ll can send him a love card:

    Orson S Card
    401 Willoughby Blvd
    Greensboro, NC 27408-3135

    It’s scary that I live down the road from someone like this.

  • Paul Mc

    I will not see this movie. Ever. The book was chosen for our Bookclub. I had never read it.

    Awful. We all agreed. A dreary slice of space opera with an utter vacuum at it’s moral heart. It’s message is EXACTLY like that of the religious freaks who are anti gay with no authentic understanding of human nature who be,dive that sincerity trumps all. Awful.

  • Drew

    I read “Ender’s Game” when it came out, when I was not much older than the protagonists. Loved the book, read a bunch of his other stuff, but gradually became aware of OSC’s increasingly anti-gay tone. I have to say, it was heartbreaking, as I loved the books so much, but I find his actions to be repellent.

    That having been said, he certainly wrote a very tender same-sex “friendship” into his novel “Treason” (between Lanik Mueller and Helmut Schwartz), so methinks the lady doth protest too much….

    “Homophobia linked to suppressed sexuality: study”

  • Larkin

    Oh the conundrum! I love sci-fi and have long waited for this movie, but it will put money in a bigot’s pocket to spread his verbal diarrhea.

    So, I will pirate this movie. Arrgh!!! Remember, this man supports the overthrow of the US Government… and I support his right to be an asshole… just not with my money.

  • jademist

    Since the history of the LDS founder ought to discredit the “religion” – cult out-right. Joseph Smith was a well-known huckster/snake-oil salesman in his own town. No wonder the fledgling cult had to flee!
    I am a gay man, who is also a theologican. Frankly, I equate the thing (Mormonism) with a “graphic novel!” All that Mayan stuff is quite pretty/way gay – VERY theme-party, eh?, but absolutely silly.
    IMHO, the Bible is mythopeoic, too, but at least IT makes sense! It is impossible to take it as history, try as some deluded souls may.
    OSC, feh! Happily, as much of a sci-fi nut as I am, I never put a shekel in his pocket.

  • kitty

    Orson Scott Card is a raging closet case. He writes for a piece of shit right wing newspaper in my hometown where he reviews everything from movies to toilets. He couldn’t be a fussier little diva. Oh and in his movie “reviews” he always makes it a point to mention the fine looking male cast members. Puhleezz.

  • chels

    @Jonathonz: What kind of drugs and pills are you popping when you got to movies? There was no evil drag queens or cross dressing men in the capitol. They were just dressed up all fancy, and in a way to show that they had a higher class. If anything hunger games was more anti government. I’m pretty sure the main villain in tron was Clu. Who was not gay. Neither was Castor, he just did what was best for himself. Look the only gay villain I know of in the media besides that guy in 300 is Adrian from watchmen and Adrian was subtly as fuck.

  • Thomas

    Card will be involved in a gay sex scandal – IF he can find a gay man willing to have sex with him. It’s not looking promising.

  • BECQueerty

    Thank you for the info. I’m glad that I never read OSC’s books, so the choice will be easy for me not to support any medium based on his works. I will do diligence to inform my circle of this information. I have to admit, it kind of sucks hearing about this. It sounds like his books were pretty good. I have this stupid fantasy that folks that are into sci-fi are more enlightened. Oh well, ’tis just a stupid fantasy.

  • Oh, ok

    @Jonathonz: The fact that you’re obviously crazy aside you seem to have this silly idea that all gays are equal and on the same page.

  • Owen

    I’m so conflicted. I found out he was a homophobe years after I read what is possibly my favorite novel of all time, and Ender sequel called “Speaker For the Dead”… I’m not sure I would have read his many Ender books (all of which I love and all of which seem so progressive and openminded) if I had known he was a hater…but then, I would have denied myself some of the most glorious reading experiences of my life…

  • Pat Duffy

    One of the things that automatically deletes an author’s work form my collection is the author being a Homophobe. That’s different than a book that as part of it’s “worldview” is one of Homophobia.’Course, it depends on how it’s used…..

  • Erik

    Wait… that guy in the picture is the homophobe?

    Seriously?! That dude looks totally gay! It seems all our enemies are closeted gays. It is really disturbing. They are all mental cases at war with themselves.

  • lcat

    @WillBFair: @WillBFair Here, here! A haters list would be great

  • Dan Avery

    A question to readers of Ender’s Game and other OSC stories: Has anyone detected a weird pedophile theme in Card’s work? The adulation of children seems to come up so much its almost creepy. And hearing abt his take on “Hamlet” is just downright disturbing.

    I haven’t read a ton of his stuff so I’d love to hear a OSC reader’s opinion.

  • Cleo

    @ #3… Where did you get your information?? not a single thing you have to say about Mormons is true. they don’t believe the things you say, never have, never will. They did NOT “rewrite” the Bible, that’s crazy. Maybe you should talk to a REAL Mormon before you make yourself look like an idiot.
    If all of you want to be treated equally maybe you should not tell others that they can’t do something “forbidden”. (forbidden by whom?)

    Do none of you see the irony of a gay judging anyones beliefs while ranting about being judged??????

    If you don’t appove of the author then don’t support his work. I don’t go all crazy just because I don’t agree with someone, I just avoid them.
    Martin Luther King had it right. Hate is never the way.

Comments are closed.