The film adaptation of the iconic sci-fi novel “Ender’s Game” has been highly anticipated by fans, however talk of the film has found itself dwarfed by the controversy surrounding the book’s author Orson Scott Card and his unpopular anti-gay views.
For those unfamiliar with Card’s history, the author previously served on the board of the National Organization for Marriage (who fervently oppose marriage equality) and once called for the criminalization of homosexuality. Knowledge of Card’s stance has prompted the organization Geeks OUT to launch its Skip Ender’s Game campaign, asking supporters of LGBT equality to boycott the film on its Nov. 1 launch. This has Lionsgate, the studio behind the film, and director Gavin Hood, understandably, nervous.
In a new interview with The Advocate, Hood has opened up, trying to earn back some goodwill for his film. The director notes that Card’s views are “dreadfully ironic” when compared to the themes of the novel.
“Orson wrote a book about compassion, and empathy, and yet he himself is struggling to see that his position in real life is really at odds with his art,” Hood remarks. He also says he understands the boycott, but hopes that critics can participate in a fuller discussion rather than just dismiss the film out of hand.
“I fully understand the position of those seeking a boycott. I really do,” says Hood. “However, let us have the conversation for what it is, which is that it’s so ironic that the themes and positions in the film are completely the opposite of what its author is now saying. I think that is a healthy and important discussion to have on those terms. I would far rather engage in a debate from an honest point of view, than have it suggest that audiences may stay away.
“The story of Ender is really a young person in search of his identity and in search of his own moral compass,” Hood adds. “It is so ironic that the writer of the work that has helped so many [young] people, gay and straight, to find empowerment, to feel empowered, to find their own moral compass –it’s very sad that he, himself, is struggling with these issues.”
Lionsgate has made moves to distance itself from Card, as well. Earlier in July, the company called itself “proud longtime supporters of the LGBT community” and hoped to make clear it does “not agree with the personal views of Orson Scott Card and those of the National Organization for Marriage.” They’re also announced plans to hold a screening of “Ender’s Game” to benefit the LGBT community.
Card himself has addressed the criticism of his views, issuing a statement to Entertainment Weekly claiming his novel is unrelated to his personal views. He asked for “tolerance” from marriage equality supporters because “with the recent Supreme Court ruling, the gay marriage issue becomes moot.” (Not quite, but, okay…)
The author added, “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.” A rich slice of irony, all things considered.
Will you see “Ender’s Game” when it arrive in theaters this November?