Features Film

Why I Won’t Be Watching Ender’s Game

Written by Sam Roads

This year’s biggest sci-fi film is almost certainly going to be Ender’s Game.

Based on the hugely successful book of the same name by Orson Scott Card, the film has had a long and arduous development, and many believed that the book could not be filmed. I came to the book at Uni and Card shot into my “Three Favourite Authors Top Three” at #3 (behind Stephen Donaldson and C.J.Cherryh, if you *must* know). It stars both Han Solo and Mahatma Gandhi (best team-up in history), and what might be the best ever SFX (if you like watching enormous spaceships shooting shiny laser-death at other enormous spaceships).

But I’m not going to watch it.

“But why, Sam?” you ask. The reason is sad. The first two sequels to Ender’s Game, Speaker For The Dead and Xenocide explore many issues of diversity. In the former, Ender needs to understand the alien ways of another species to bring peace to the shared community. In the latter, the heroine saves the day despite suffering from extreme obsessive compulsive disorder.

So surely Card himself is also a model of modern inclusive thinking, willing to embrace all humanity, male and female, black and white, straight and…

Ah. Damn. Not so keen on the gay?

“Already in several states, there are textbooks for children in the earliest grades that show “gay marriages” as normal. How long do you think it will be before such textbooks become mandatory — and parents have no way to opt out of having their children taught from them?”

Orson Scott Card, quoted in the Deseret News. (Other examples abound – Google it if you want more.)

Which begs the question, why would Card mind gay marriage being portrayed as normal in a textbook?

Whether you like it or not, being gay is normal. You can find gay partnerships in hundreds of animal species. They aren’t being gay to annoy conservatives, or to try to break down family values. They’re gay because it’s natural to be gay. (Your religion might disagree, in which case you have a lot of animals to convert.)

There’s a reason they call it Gay Pride.

One also shouldn’t confuse uncommon with abnormal. Being left-handed is uncommon, but it’s normal. You wouldn’t freak out if a textbook showed a child who was left-handed.

But a boycott? For real? I thought we only boycotted stuff like Apartheid?

Should we boycott his film just because he wants to promulgate his prejudice through the articles he writes? It’s a tricky question, and this isn’t the first time it’s been asked!

Richard Wagner wrote some of the finest operas you can ever get a numb behind sitting through. In fact, he could possibly claim to have created the single greatest work of art ever, in The Ring Cycle. This is four operas which clock in at a total of 20 hours, for which he wrote the story, the music, stage directions, and designed the costumes and  the scenery. It took him 20 YEARS. I sometimes ponder this as I grumble about the three minutes it takes me to put the rubbish out.

However, whilst Wagner may (or may not) have been anti-semitic, his music was totally purloined by the Nazis for pro German propaganda purposes. It’s hard to listen to Wagner without some awareness of the cultural significance of the music to the ultimate evil of Nazi ideology.

On the other hand, Apocalpyse Now features The Ride of the Valykries (from The Ring Cycle) playing from transport helicopters as they fly over the Vietnamese jungle to deliver high tech death to the Viet Cong. When most people of a certain age hear that amazing overture, they find it hard not to quote “I love the smell of napalm in the morning…”

But I digress.

So this is the point. In time, people will remember Orson Scott Card as a writer of fantastic sci-fi books. His outdated prejudices will be forgotten by the great wash of time, and perhaps (as with Wagner) people will associate Ender’s Game with washing powder, or naked round-the-world yachting.

But right now, as progressive democracies are legalising gay marriage and other countries are promoting anti-gay legislation or a death penalty, now is the time to give a crap and do a teeny tiny bit of activism.

Tell your friends you’re going to boycott the film, keep the box office take under $100m, and send out a message that gay inequality is “Not OK.”

Agree or disagree? Will you be going to see Ender’s Game? Sound off in the comments below or send us your thoughts on Twitter.

About the author

Sam Roads

Sam Roads is a writer, entrepreneur, musician and game designer. He trained as a composer at UWCC, owns four gaming businesses, and has won two international Origins awards for game development. He lives in Cardiff with his wife Lizz.