Will you or won’t you?

The hot-button issue of the moment is whether or not people will be seeing the adaptation os Ender’s Game in theatres, and their reasons behind whichever action they choose. The question of, “Will you or won’t you, and why?” seems to be on everyone’s mind, and I can’t resist the chance to weight in with my own take on the matter.

Personally, I won’t be seeing it in theatres. I probably won’t even rent it when it gets its DVD release. I can’t bring myself to. Even though I know that the movie is very likely to be a good one, probably one I’d even enjoy, I can’t bring myself to pay money for it when I know that some of that money is going back to a man who has said, on numerous occasions, that my friends and family don’t deserve the same rights that he does because they don’t boink in the same way as him.

There’s been a lot of talk about whether it’s best for one to seperate the artist from their art, and supporting and enjoying the art even if you think the artist is reprehensible. It’s a good argument, and it’s one that I spent time wrestling with in the past. Where does the dividing line lie? Is it even possible to hold the two apart, appreciating one while despising the other?

For my part, I’d say that the answer is yes. I think that Card can write a damn good book, and I’ve enjoyed what works of his that I have read. And his participating in the Ender’s Game movie is probably going to make it just as enjoyable, given that such instances usually end up creating a movie that’s as close to the source material as possible. I can appreciate that, and you won’t hear me deny that part of things. Ever.

However, this is where it gets tricky. It’s possible to appreciate the art seperately from the artist, but then there’s the matter of support. Money that I spend on his works will, in smaller amounts, trickle back to him. What I spend on his works will go toward giving him a paycheque. It will pay his bills. It will fill his bank account. And it’s a fairly well known fact that Card gives funding to organizations that support turning back the clock when it comes to marriage equality and equal rights for homosexual couples (National Organization for Marriage, if anyone’s curious, and no, I won’t be providing a direct link to that website). So by the trickle-down movement of money, my money goes to fund not only a man that I find reprehensible, but an organzation that I find reprehensible, which does reprehensible things.

Appreciate his art all you like, but just be aware of where your cash is flowing.

That Ender’s Game itself has nothing to do with marriage equality and gay rights isn’t the point. Many people have used that argument. They say that so long as the artistic work itself has no bearing on the issue people are complaining about, then all is fine and dandy. I disagree. Again, I point to the issue of money.

There is a distance between free speech and hate speech, ranging from a fine line to a gaping chasm. In Card’s case, it’s a gaping chasm. He is speaking his mind, absolutely, and he has the right to do that. But he has missed, time and again, chances to educate himself, to learn about these people who he so despises and thinks are subhuman, and insists on supporting bigotry, spewing vitriol, and standing firmly beside his ignorance and misinformation. It’s not a matter of not having the chance to know better. It’s not a fine line. It’s a matter of equality, human decency, and this is what Card wants to deny your friends, your neighbours, your kid’s teacher, that cashier at the grocery store.

Also, the messages in Card’s own works have been so divorced from his own personal ideals that it’s hard for me to stand idly by and be quiet when people say that the art’s message is different, so there’s no problem. Here’s an excerpt from my long-ago review of Card’s Speaker for the Dead, to illustrate this point:

I couldn’t help but look at everything he says in Speaker for the Dead, about the varying degrees of humanity in creatures that aren’t biologically human, about how just because something seems alien doesn’t mean it’s bad, about how we should understand things from the perspective of the other side before we make our judgments… And I felt sad and disgusted. Whether he had a change of heart between writing the admirable sentiments expressed in the novel and between ranting about the evil gay dangers of the world, or whether he didn’t believe a word of those admirable sentiments when he wrote them, in the end, comparing the two things, he just made himself seem like a prat.

Card missed the point of his own work. You can talk all you want about how his works are great so they should be supported, but when messages of tolerance are preached by a guy who hasn’t shown any, you start to look at things with a different eye. There’s a saying that you have to look at a person’s actions as well as their words. His words (or his novels) say one thing. His actions say another.

He has begged for tolerance from people to whom he has shown none. He has pouted like a little boy denied a cookie, thrown tantrums when he thought it might get him his way, then sulked when it didn’t. You don’t support that in toddlers. Why would you support it in a grown man.

For my part, seeing this movie would be me turning a blind eye to bigotry in favour of a few hours of entertainment. It’s not worth it. No movie is that good. And happily, I live in a place where it’s not wrong for me to stand up against hatred, to choose who to give my money to, to decide based on my own morality who to support and who to deny. This is a peaceful protest, an exercising of my rights.

John Scalzi noted in a recent post that “freedom of speech does not mean freedom from consequences.” This is Card’s consequence. This is us, banding together as individuals or groups, standing up to show that we do not support his actions, and we hope that by denying him something, he might learn that his viewpoint is not as tolerable as he thinks it should be. That he is not right to want to deny people equality under the law. That telling people they are genetics defects, that their love came from abuse and that they in turn are or will be abusers, just doesn’t fly. This is the consequence to his speech.

Will I or won’t I? I won’t. And know you know why.

5 comments on “Will you or won’t you?

  1. Yes. To all of this.

    I haven’t read any of Card’s books yet, but given all of the recent controversy he’s been stirring up, and why, I know I’m not going to. I agree thoroughly with everything you’ve said here, and for many of the same reasons. In my view it’s a heck of a lot easier (and preferable) to avoid this guy and his work than it would be to possibly have to explain to friends and family why I seem to be supporting him, even if there’s that dividing line between supporting the art and supporting the artist. Like you, I’m having a tough time separating the two. So, I’ll keep my money – or spend it on books/movies by writers I don’t abhor.

  2. I’ve not read anything by Card yet, but I still don’t think I’d go see Ender’s Game in the cinema – it’s just not my genre of choice. I might give it a look on DVD, though.

    It’s a shame that his sentiments in Speaker for the Dead weren’t reflective of his own ideologies.

  3. Pingback: July in Retrospect | Bibliotropic

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