Harrison Ford has rejected the suggestion that author Orson Scott Card’s personal views are relevant to the content of the upcoming film adaptation Ender’s Game. Harrison addressed the controversy at a promotional event for the upcoming movie. “This movie doesn’t address any of those issues,” he said “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.”
Orson Scott-Card is a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and a key figure in the anti-gay National Organisation for Marriage. His views have been upsetting fans of his books for years, but of course now that Ender’s Game has been adapted for film, Card has become a target for wider public criticism. Geeks Out called for a boycott on Ender’s Game, launching the Skip Ender’s Game website, telling fans “Do not let your box-office dollars fuel his anti-gay agenda.” Further embarrassing film-producers, Card compared Barack Obama to Hitler on his Civilization Watch blog in May.
In response to Geeks Out, Card said “Ender’s Game is set more than a century in the future and has nothing to do with political issues that did not exist when the book was written in 1984… now it will be interesting to see whether the victorious proponents of gay marriage will show tolerance toward those who disagreed with them when the issue was still in dispute.”
While Card has continually failed to impress as a person, Ender’s Game has won the prestigious Hugo and Nebula awards and is considered one of the greatest science-fiction novels ever written. And it is. So do we feel guilty about enjoying a book by an author whose antiquated and bigoted views are blackening the legacy of a truly great story?
Harrison said: “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…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.”
There is some irony in that. The book does advocate tolerance and compassion, something the author is clearly lacking. We don’t need to blame Ender for his creator. We can leave Card behind. Ender has outgrown him.