Ender’s Boycott

I’m going to explain myself. God says it’s a mistake. He says that no one is asking for an explanation, so why stir up the muck.

Here’s the thing, I saw the movie “Ender’s Game.”

A friend of mine was of the firm opinion that all our decisions are made emotionally and only after the fact do we justify them with logic and reason. I think I’ve done about as well as anyone in making that not be the case, in making the majority of my decisions be reason based more than emotion based, but I think in this case my friend might well have been right. Still, even if I did see the movie mainly because I just wanted to, and I’m not copping to that, maybe I did, maybe I didn’t, I don’t really know, but if I did, just if, I’d still like to explain my choice away, justify it with reason.

And fair warning, this isn’t a carefully laid out case, it’s all kind of fuzzy in my mind and so I’m going to come at it from different directions and try and give you the shape of my understanding more than a listing of reasons.

For those of you that might be sitting there, reading this, and thinking, “why does he need reasons to see a movie?” it’s because of the whole call for a boycott. To sum up quickly: Orson Scott Card wrote the book on which the movie is based, he also has said insane things in the fight against Gay rights and in particular in the fight against Equal Rights for Gays and Lesbians to Marry. And beyond just saying things as an individual citizen, he was on the board of directors of an organization that was near the forefront of the fight against marriage rights. So a lot of people want to see him not get additional money to use in that fight, not get additional attention to use in that fight, and not get any sort of validation that might lend credibility to his views.

And I get all of that. I even kind of agree with most of that.

But I don’t want to shut him down. I want him, well really I want him to come to his senses, to get over whatever programming or fear or whatever it is that’s causing him to not use his considerable intellect to understand that we aren’t the problem, that our right to exist and our right to marry doesn’t have any impact on his life, doesn’t hurt him or impact him in any way that isn’t of his own doing, but, well, barring that, I want him to choose to shut himself down, to at least realize that he’s not doing himself any good and that the tide he is fighting against will come in with or without him. For us, whoever us may be, to shut him down is a form of censorship, and I abhor censorship. And for all of you that say it’s only censorship if the government does it, oh grow up.

Right now the tendency is for people within the queer spectrum to be accorded our rights and for the list of rights that we are accorded to be expanded. More than a dozen states now grant us the right to marry. An ever-increasing list of other countries also grant that right. Ten years ago many activists in the Gay Community told us not to even try to get marriage rights, that it was a step over the line that would cause a backlash and set our fight back. They said we would be in danger of losing rights that we had fought hard for not very long ago. When I was a child, homosexuality was barely mentioned, I don’t remember even hearing of it before I was in high school. When I was a young adult it was an act of bravery to buy the gay newspaper in a bookstore instead of out of a vending machine. People fought for the right to say they were Gay, to make it safe for any of us to say we are Gay.

And that’s part of why I care so very much that people have the right to speak out, to say unpopular things. And yes, even to say things that are wrong and stupid. Because what people believe is wrong and stupid today may turn out to not be so.

I’ve never read Ender’s Game. I had friends, gay friends, recommend it to me, fifteen, twenty years ago. I told them then that I wouldn’t read it because of Orson Scott Card’s published rants against homosexuality. I didn’t begrudge him his right to speak then, when he was much closer to mainstream in his views (it’s not that he’s changed as much as that it is that “mainstream” has changed), but reading a book is one of the closest things we have to a Vulcan Mind Meld. When you read a book, ideas, both explicit and implicit, are passed from the author to the reader. Knowing that my very being was repugnant to Mr. Card, I chose to not put my mind in such close proximity to his. I told my friends then that I would see a movie based on the book, but I wouldn’t read it, but obviously that was before any sort of semi-organized boycott.

There’s also more to it than that, more to seeing the movie but not reading the book. Reading a book, as I said, is like hooking up two brains together and passing information between them. A movie is not like that. A movie is art by committee. The director, and often also the producer, is in charge and puts the clear stamp of their vision on the project, but for all of that, it’s still a group effort. How big a group? Well judging by the ever-lengthening time I spend sitting through credits, a very, very big group. These people are craftsmen but also, many of them are artists in their own right. So there’s a strong argument to be made that it’s not fair to all of those people to boycott the movie because of the views of an artist who is a step removed, albeit one without whom the work would not exist at all despite that level of remove, for his views and actions which are not expressed within the work itself. It’s not an argument that everyone buys, but it carries weight with me. Does it carry that weight just because I wanted to see the movie? I don’t know.

And back to all those people involved in making the movie, with the possible exceptions of hair salons and interior decorating, I think it’s safe to say that no industry has been more supportive of gay rights than the film industry. I think they’ve earned a little slack here. I think they’ve earned the right to not be boycotted by the queer community.

So that’s my thinking, such as it is. Maybe the real reason God didn’t want me to try and explain this is because he knew it would come out an incoherent mess.

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