The brouhaha surrounding Orson Scott Card’s involvement with a new Superman comic project has already caused one major change.
Due to the media attention surrounding the science-fiction writer and his story in the forthcoming Adventures of Superman, artist Chris Sprouse — who was to illustrate a tale by Card and Aaron Johnston — has departed from the book, according to DC Comics.
Scheduled to launch April 29, Adventures of Superman is a digital anthology of 10-page Superman short stories featuring the works of various creators that will be collected in print issues beginning in May.
So many Superman(s) So Little Time!
And that’s not to mention Jimmy Olson
DC’s announcement of the creative teams last month caused a furor, however, with the involvement of Card, the acclaimed Ender’s Game author who has been criticized for his anti-gay stance and opinions on same-sex marriage.
Fans and retailers called for boycotts of the print comic, and the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender activist website AllOut.org collected more than 16,000 signatures on an online petition asking DC to drop Card from Adventures of Superman.
“It took a lot of thought to come to this conclusion, but I’ve decided to step back as the artist on this story,” Sprouse said in a statement released Tuesday. “The media surrounding this story reached the point where it took away from the actual work, and that’s something I wasn’t comfortable with. My relationship with DC Comics remains as strong as ever and I look forward to my next project with them.”
Due to the creative change, the Card story will not appear in the first collected issue out May 29. Instead, it will feature a story by writer Jeff Parker and artist Chris Samnee, as well as a tale by Jeff Lemire and one by writer Justin Jordan and artist Riley Rossmo.
DC is also looking for a replacement illustrator for Card’s story.
“We fully support, understand and respect Chris’s decision to step back from his Adventures of Superman assignment,” the company said in a statement. “Chris is a hugely talented artist, and we’re excited to work with him on his next DC Comics project. In the meantime, we will re-solicit the story at a later date when a new artist is hired.”
Here’s that trpublemaker now!
When I was an undergraduate theatre student, I was aware, and not happily so, how pervasive was the reach of the underculture of homosexuality among my friends and acquaintances. After a while I stopped being shocked to discover that someone I had known well, or whose talent I admired, was either moving into or already a part of the not-so-clandestine network of gay relationships. I learned that being homosexual does not destroy a person’s talent or deny those aspects of their character that I had already come to love and admire. I did learn that for most of them their highest allegiance was to their membership in the community that gave them access to sex. As a not-particularly-pure-minded heterosexual adolescent, I understood the intensity of sexual desire; as a student of human communities, I have since come to understand how character is shaped by — or surrendered to — one’s allegiances.
One thing is certain: one cannot serve two masters. And when one’s life is given over to one community that demands utter allegiance, it cannot be given to another. The LDS church is one such community. The homosexual community seems to be another. And when I read the statements of those who claim to be both LDS and homosexual, trying to persuade the former community to cease making their membership contingent upon abandoning the latter, I wonder if they realize that the price of such “tolerance” would be, in the long run, the destruction of the Church.
We Latter-day Saints know that we are eternal beings who must gain control of our bodies and direct our lives toward the good of others in order to be worthy of an adult role in the hereafter.
Just like Scientologists!
So the regulation of sexual drives is designated not just to preserve the community of the Saints but also to improve and educate the individuals within it. The Lord asks no more of its members who are tempted toward homosexuality than it does of its unmarried adolescents, its widows and widowers, its divorced members, and its members who never marry. Furthermore, the Lord even guides the sexual behavior of those who are married, expecting them to use their sexual powers responsibly and in a proportionate role within the marriage.
Yadda, yadda, yadda.
The argument by the hypocrites of homosexuality that homosexual tendencies are genetically ingrained in some individuals is almost laughably irrelevant. We are all genetically predisposed toward some sin or another; we are all expected to control those genetic predispositions when it is possible. It is for God to judge which individuals are tempted beyond their ability to bear or beyond their ability to resist. But it is the responsibility of the Church and the Saints never to lose sight of the goal of perfect obedience to laws designed for our happiness.
The average fifteen-year-old teenage boy is genetically predisposed to copulate with anything that moves.
Oh really? How many 15 year-old boys do you actually know? And I mean “know” in every sense of the term.
We are compassionate and forgiving of those who cannot resist this temptation, but we do not regard as adult anyone who has not overcome it; and we can only help others overcome those “genetic predispositions” by teaching them that we expect them to meet a higher standard of behavior than the one their own body teaches them. Are we somehow cruel and overdomineering when we teach young men and young women that their lives will be better and happier if they have no memory of sexual intercourse with others to deal with when they finally are married? On the contrary, we would be heartless and cruel if we did not.
“We would be heartless and cruel if we weren’t heartless and cruel”
The hypocrites of homosexuality are, of course, already preparing to answer these statements by accusing me of homophobia, gay-bashing, bigotry, intolerance; but nothing that I have said here — and nothing that has been said by any of the prophets or any of the Church leaders who have dealt with this issue — can be construed as advocating, encouraging, or even allowing harsh personal treatment of individuals who are unable to resist the temptation to have sexual relations with persons of the same sex.
On the contrary, the teachings of the Lord are clear in regard to the way we must deal with sinners. Christ treated them with compassion — as long as they confessed that their sin was a sin. Only when they attempted to pretend that their sin was righteousness did he harshly name them for what they were: fools, hypocrites, sinners. Hypocrites because they were unwilling to change their behavior and instead attempted to change the law to fit it; fools because they thought that deceiving an easily deceivable society would achieve the impossible goal of also deceiving God.
Cause Mormons don’t deceive anyone, right? Hello!
The Church has plenty of room for individuals who are struggling to overcome their temptation toward homosexual behavior. But for the protection of the Saints and the good of the persons themselves, the Church has no room for those who, instead of repenting of homosexuality, wish it to become an acceptable behavior in the society of the Saints. They are wolves in sheep’s clothing, preaching meekness while attempting to devour the flock.
No act of violence is ever appropriate to protect Christianity from those who would rob it of its meaning. None of us are without sin — the casting of stones is not our duty or our privilege. All that must ever be done to answer them is to declare the truth, and to deny them the right to call themselves Latter-day Saints while proclaiming their false doctrine. Even as Christ freed from her accusers the woman taken in adultery, he told her, Go and sin no more.
Only do it more effectively.
No community can endure that does not hold its members responsible for their own actions. Being human, we try from childhood on to put the blame for the bad things we do on someone or something else. And to one degree or another, we do accept plausible excuses — enough, at least, to allow us to temper our judgment. The American polity defines the crime of second degree murder to allow for those whose anger was greatly provoked, as distinguished from those who coldly kill for gain. Also, we are willing to alter the terms of confinement of those whose unacceptable behavior clearly derived from mental illness. In short, we recognize the principle that those who have as little control over their own behavior as small children should be treated as compassionately — yet firmly — as we treat small children.
What we do with small children is to establish clear boundaries and offer swift but mild punishment for crossing them. As their capacity to understand and obey increases, the boundaries broaden but the consequences of crossing them become more severe.
Within the Church, the young person who experiments with homosexual behavior should be counseled with, not excommunicated. But as the adolescent moves into adulthood and continues to engage in sinful practices far beyond the level of experimentation, then the consequences within the Church must grow more severe and more long-lasting; unfortunately, they may also be more public as well.
This applies also to the polity, the citizens at large. Laws against homosexual behavior should remain on the books, not to be indiscriminately enforced against anyone who happens to be caught violating them, but to be used when necessary to send a clear message that those who flagrantly violate society’s regulation of sexual behavior cannot be permitted to remain as acceptable, equal citizens within that society.
The goal of the polity is not to put homosexuals in jail. The goal is to discourage people from engaging in homosexual practices in the first place, and, when they nevertheless proceed in their homosexual behavior, to encourage them to do so discreetly, so as not to shake the confidence of the community in the polity’s ability to provide rules for safe, stable, dependable marriage and family relationships.
Those who would be members of a community must sacrifice the satisfaction of some of their individual desires in order to maintain the existence of that community. They must, in other words, obey the rules that define what that community is. Those who are not willing or able to obey the rules should honestly admit the fact and withdraw from membership.
Thus, just as America, a democratic society, is under no obligation to preserve some imagined “right” of citizens who wish to use their freedom to overthrow that democracy and institute tyranny, so likewise the LDS church, which is founded on the idea that the word of God as revealed through his prophets should determine the behavior of the Saints, is under no obligation to protect some supposed “right” of those members who would like to persuade us that neither God nor the prophets has the authority to regulate them.
If the Church has no the authority to tell its members that they may not engage in homosexual practices, then it has no authority at all. And if we accept the argument of the hypocrites of homosexuality that their sin is not a sin, we have destroyed ourselves.
Furthermore, if we allow ourselves to be intimidated by our fear of the world’s censure into silence in the face of attempts by homosexuals to make their sin acceptable under the laws of the polity, then we have abandoned our role as teachers of righteousness.
The repentant homosexual must be met with forgiveness. Even hypocritical homosexuals must be treated individually with compassion. But the collective behavior of the hypocrites of homosexuality must be met with our most forceful arguments and our complete intolerance of their lies. To act otherwise is to give more respect to the opinions of men than to the judgments of God.
Tolerance is not the fundamental virtue, to which all others must give way. The fundamental virtue is to love the Lord with all our heart, might, mind, and strength; and then to love our neighbor as yourself. Despite all the rhetoric of the hypocrites of homosexuality about how if we were true Christians, we would accept them fully without expecting them to change their behavior, we know that the Lord looks upon sin without the least degree of tolerance, and that he expects us to strive for perfection.
That we must treat sinners kindly is true; that we must courageously and firmly reject sin is also true. Those whose “kindness” causes them to wink at sin are not being kind at all, for the only hope of joy that these people have is to recognize their sin and repent of it. True kindness is to be ever courteous and warm toward individuals, while confronting them always with our rejection of any argument justifying their self-gratification. That will earn us their love and gratitude in the day of their repentance, even if during the time they still embrace their sins they lash out at us as if we were their enemies.
Well you ARE our enemies!
And if it happens that they never repent, then in the day of their grief they cannot blame us for helping them deceive and destroy themselves. That is how we keep ourselves unspotted by the blood of this generation, even as we labor to help our brothers and sisters free themselves from the tyranny of sin.
I predicted toward the beginning of the preceding essay that those who have already accepted the dogmas of the homosexual community as a source of truth superior to the words of the prophets would be incapable of reading what I had actually written here and would instead interpret my words as intolerance, oppression, gay-bashing, or, an epithet used now without a shred of its original meaning, “homophobia.” My prediction was exactly fulfilled, and I have had ample opportunity to observe that some supposed proponents of liberty for homosexuals do not believe in freedom of speech for anyone who disagrees with them
We have no control over anyone’s speech whatsoever. That we dare to object to what creeps like Card say at any level whatsoever is regarded by him as an attempt to deprive him of the right to speech. This is paranoid hysteria.
This is true even within the Mormon community. For instance, Signature Books responded to publication of “Hypocrites of Homosexuality” by suggesting to Sunstone magazine, where the essay appeared, that Signature might not be able to continue distributing that magazine if they continued to publish essays by me — a thinly veiled attempt to suppress my ability to get my writings published, even while Signature was still profiting from publication of my book Saintspeak, which I had sold to them while under previous management. When I called Gary Bergera, editor of Signature Books, about his letter, he was apparently incapable of seeing that his attempt to get Sunstone to cease publishing my writings had anything to do with oppression. In his view, the cause of freedom requires Signature to make every effort to stop me from having a chance to speak a single word that might persuade someone that being a Latter-day Saint means trying to live by the gospel as taught by the prophets, while they insist on their own freedom to continue with their clear and relentless crusade to persuade Mormons to take currently fashionable worldly wisdom as a better source of truth than the teachings of the prophets. Fortunately, freedom of the press still prevails on both sides, and I have no fear that, given equal freedom to speak, the teachings of the prophets will continue prevail within the Mormon community.
In fact, even outside the LDS community, it has become clearer and clearer to me, since writing this essay, that gay activism as a movement movement is no longer looking for civil rights, which by and large homosexuals already have.
Oh really? Check these stats . Outside of the major cities there’s next to nothing.
Rather they are seeking to enforce acceptance of their sexual liaisons as having equal validity with heterosexual marriages, to the point of having legal rights as spouses, the right to adopt children, and the right to insist that their behavior be taught to children in public schools as a completely acceptable “alternative lifestyle.” It does not take a homophobe to recognize how destructive such a program will be in a society already reeling from the terrible consequences of “no-fault” divorce, social tolerance of extramarital promiscuity, and failing to protect our adolescents until they can channel their sexual passions in a socially productive way. Having already lost control of the car, we now find the gay activists screaming at us to speed up as we drive headlong toward the cliff.
Oddly enough, even as I am attacked by some as a homophobe, I am attacked by others as being too supportive of homosexuality, simply because I cannot see individual homosexuals, in or out of my books, as anything other than human beings with as complex a combination of good and evil in them as I find within myself. In my own view, I am walking a middle way, which condemns the sin but loves the sinner.
Apparently this cannot satisfy those who either hate the sinner or love the sin; both are equally enraged by my unacceptable posture. Still, I did attempt to explain my views in the following response, first posted on America Online, an interactive computer service where I host an area called “The Hatrack River Town Meeting.”
Recently on Prodigy’s “Card, Orson Scott” topic, one participant wrote a brief message saying that it really bothered him when I made the main character of Songmaster, Ansset, a homosexual; the message-writer used the word “abomination” to refer to homosexuality. The responses from others online were understanding even when in firm disagreement. Several pointed out that while the character of Josef was a homosexual, the character of Ansset was not. One wrote affirming the sympathy that I obviously had for homosexuals, and warning the original letter-writer of “homophobia.” I could not leave the discussion that way without a reply.
Concerning the discussion of homosexuality in Songmaster, I must agree with those who held that Ansset “was” not a homosexual, though he engaged (or attempted to engage) in homosexual acts. As Kinsey pointed out, most American males (and many American females), even as long ago as the 1950s, had SOME kind of same-sex sexual gratification or experience. Engaging in homosexual behavior one time does not mean that you have that as your inevitable destiny.
Science has barely scratched the surface of the question of how much of our behavior has a genetic source and how much is environmental (and of course science doesn’t even admit to any other possibility — i.e., a pre-existent soul or, as someone called it somewhere, an aiua). Even in the clearest cases of genetic causation (schizophrenia, for instance), the percentages are significant but not even close to being absolute. That is, there are many who “should” be schizophrenic and yet they are not; and even among those who have schizophrenic episodes, there are degrees of predisposition. So if we discover, eventually, that homosexuality has a genetic indicator, this does not mean that all who have the indicator are equally pushed in that direction — or even that anyone who has the desire is necessarily forced to engage in homosexual acts. The predisposition toward various behaviors does not mean that a person no longer has volition. Desire is not identical to action, at least among civilized people. After all, the desire to do physical violence is far more pervasive among human males than homosexuality, yet human males are expected to curb it except when playing hockey. Civilization depends on people being able to master those of their predispositions that are regarded as unacceptable by the community they live in.
Did you say “Hockey”?
There are communities within American culture that regard homosexuality as just another viable lifestyle, absolutely harmless and therefore no more to be shunned or censured than an inability to carry a tune (and LESS obnoxious than a predisposition toward, say, public nose-picking). There are other communities within American culture that regard homosexual acts as sins, so that good people try to control any such desires and not act them out. And there are communities that regard homosexuality as an evil which must be violently expunged.
No shit, Sherlock! Take yours for instance.
The violent ones are themselves engaging in a far more serious anti-civilized pattern of behavior, of course, and I think there is no room in America for violence directed against any group (or any individual) for any reason short of immediate defense against physical attack — which doesn’t often come up with homosexuals.
But apart from the violent ones, I do think there is room within our society for people with many views of homosexuality, as well as of other non-majority behaviors. (Race and gender are not behaviors, and so what I am saying about attitudes toward homosexual behavior does not necessarily extend to attitudes toward race or gender.)
Take it away Fat Tony!
As long as we can freely leave one community and enter another, either geographically or socially, then doesn’t reasonable tolerance of others’ beliefs and practices allow communities that voluntarily agree to regard certain behaviors as sins as much right to their beliefs as communities that voluntarily agree to regard those same behaviors as acceptable? I find that those who plead for tolerance are far too often prone to wanting to hunt down and wipe out the last vestige of what they call intolerance — and are incapable of realizing that this behavior is, in itself, exactly as intolerant and usually as unjust as the behavior they so rigorously oppose.
IOW Matthew Shepard
and his murderers
are completely equivalent.
All of which brings us back to my novel Songmaster. In dealing with Ansset, a beautiful, artistic child in the highest circles of power, the question of both pederasty and homosexuality had to be dealt with, because both would come up. I can think of few power-cultures in human history where they have not! I think think that may be because those who seek power tend to be inclined to self-gratification and to domination of others through sexual as well as other kinds of intercourse, and since power cultures are usually male-dominated, a beautiful but vulnerable male is going to find that most domination and exploitation come from men. There’s more to it than that, I’m sure, but one thing was unavoidable: Ansset was going to be approached.
I could have used the “child molester” idea and made it a moral monster who used him — but I had other monsters using him when they trained him to be an assassin, and I had loaded them up with enough burdens in the story. Besides, I thought of the many homosexuals I had known, and while a few of them (about the normal proportion among human males) were nasty and vicious and domineering, the majority (again the normal proportion) were decent and kind and meant well in their dealings with others.
Very NAMBLA. The jig is up, Orson. You want ot fuck “ephebes.”
So in creating Josef, I tried to show him as a good man with desires that, in the case of Ansset, he had no intention of acting on. Neither of them set out to have a seduction scene. But Josef, for whatever reasons, looked upon men as potential sexual partners and this was going to color his relationship with Ansset, even by avoidance, exactly as heterosexual men find that their desire for women colors their relationships even with women they do not intend to approach sexually. Ansset responded, not to his own sexual desires, but to Josef’s unspoken need for him. And in the process, he learned exactly how much he had been forced to sacrifice in order to become a Songbird. Josef, too, was treated with the viciousness that evil people too often use toward those who are really no danger to them at all; some people, when they see that someone is truly helpless, become more cruel (as the Rodney King videotape and the subsequent footage of rioters beating innocent passersby all demonstrated).
Rodney’s “crime” was Breathing While Black.
In all of this, I was not attempting any kind of brief either “for” or “against” homosexuality. In my own life, I live in a religious community whose entire raison d’etre is that we believe God makes his will known through prophets. Those prophets have taught us to regard homosexual behavior as a sin, along with many other desired acts, both “natural” and “un-”. Just as our natural desires for heterosexual contact outside of marriage are to be curbed, we are also taught to curb homosexual desires — along with many, many others. It is not easy for any of us to control those things we desire most (though of course we always do well at controlling those desires we barely have at all).
The way you “barely” have a desire for teenage boys.
It is quite possible for me to regard homosexuality as a temptation toward a difficult sin, much to be avoided by members of my religious community, and at the same time recognize that others feel differently about it — and that even those homosexuals within my religious community (which means most of those I have known in my life) are people of value, as they either struggle to control their desires or, despairing of that, leave the religious community that requires of them what they no longer desire to do. The only people I have contempt for are those who try to remain inside Mormonism while denying the validity of guidance from the prophets, and I oppose them, not because they live as homosexuals, but because of the hypocrisy of claiming to be Mormon while denying the only reason for the Mormon community to exist. If they prevailed, it would destroy our community. Homosexuals themselves pose no such threat, provided that those who are Mormon admit that a homosexual act is a sin as long as the prophet declares it to be so, while those who do not accept the prophet’s authority refrain from pretending to be Mormon.
I’d appreciate it if you would refrain from pretending to be straight
Given my personal feelings about the individual homosexuals I have known and, in some cases, have regarded and still regard as dear friends,
and my religious beliefs about what God requires of those of us who take upon ourselves the commitment to be members of the Mormon Church, it is hardly likely that Songmaster would be either “for” or “against” homosexuals. What the novel offers is a treatment of characters who share, between them, a forbidden act that took place because of hunger on one side, compassion on the other, and genuine love and friendship on both parts. I was not trying to show that homosexuality was “beautiful” or “natural” — in fact, sex of any kind is likely to be “beautiful” only to the participants, and it is hard to make a case for the naturalness of such an obviously counter-evolutionary trend as same-sex mating. Those issues were irrelevant. The friendship between Ansset and Josef was the beautiful and natural thing, even if it eventually led them on a mutually self-destructive path. And both of them were cruelly used by the society around them, being regarded as expendable or exploitable.
Yes same-sex love is a beautiful and natural thing. Nice to see you admitting it.
The only thing I would quarrel with in any of the attitudes I’ve seen expressed on this subject in this particular discussion on Prodigy is the use of two words: abomination and homophobia. Both are relatively meaningless these days, and are most often used to express loathing; therefore, while the loathing may be sincere, the words become less than helpful in serious discussion. In fact, in technical theological language (an oxymoron?) the act of sodomy is classed as being exactly as abominable as bestiality (note that it is the act, not the desire, we’re talking about) — but that doesn’t make it any more helpful to use the word in civilized discussion.
The “act of sodomy” is of course anal intercourse – which phobes like Card are obsessed with far more than normal gay men – the overwhelming majority of whom can take it or leave it. It’s not the center of our lives or our sexuality in any way.
Likewise, there are people who show a virulence in their hatred of homosexuals that is obsessive, personal, and pathological, and I suppose homophobia could be regarded as the technical word for that. The overwhelming majority of the cases where I’ve seen homophobia used, however, it was used not to describe the pathological condition, but rather as an ugly word to fling at anyone who does not go along with the political agenda or self-story of various activist wings of the American homosexual community. If you don’t accept the full politically-correct line (i.e., homosexuals can’t help it and shouldn’t ever be expected not to do as they like, and should be treated as martyrs and given special protection under the law), then you are a homophobe in the view of these people.
Love the “I suppose.”
Frankly, I find that this quickly turns into a delicious hypocrisy: Those whose agenda is “tolerance” and who insist that ugly words like faggot not be used against them have found an exactly analogous word to use as a weapon in their virulent intolerance of those who disapprove of either their behavior or their political agenda. They use the word to silence opposition, to subvert legitimate discussion. Those who use the word this way are so convinced of the righteousness of their cause that they are willing to deny the right of others to disagree with them. Thus, in the name of tolerance of diversity, they seek to force others into a perfect uniformity of thought. The fascism of the left is no more attractive than the fascism of the right.
The operative term is “delicious”
In Songmaster (and also in the third Homecoming novel, The Ships of Earth, the only other place where I have dealt with homosexuality in my fiction) I attempt to create real and living characters. I find it nearly impossible to create a character that I do not end up understanding and sympathizing with to some degree. Thus it should surprise no one that I treat homosexuals in my fiction with understanding and sympathy. This does not mean that I don’t also regard homosexual behavior as inappropriate for those who purport to be Latter-day Saints. I see no contradiction between the two ideas; indeed, I fail to see how an uncompassionate person could be a good Christian, or a good Latter-day Saint in particular.
Cognitive Dissonance Your Magic Spell is Everywhere!
I suppose I can take some comfort from the fact that over the years I have been savaged both for showing too much sympathy for the “abomination” of homosexuality and for showing too much “homophobic” opposition to the political agenda of the radical homosexual community. If either group of intolerant extremists felt comfortable with my works and my words, I would have reason to reexamine my position. As things stand right now, however, I think I am annoying exactly the right people on both sides, and so will continue as I have in the past, to attempt to discover the truth of every aspect of human life and then to tell what truth I believe I have found, as best I can, in both my fiction and my nonfiction.
Slow curtain. The End.
At first glance, Ender’s Game seems an obvious choice for a big-budget movie adaptation. The 1985 sci-fi yarn has sold millions of copies, been translated into 29 languages, and is on the “Suggested Reading” list for the U.S. Marine Corps. It spawned a series 11 follow-up novels, meaning major franchise potential for the studio, Summit Entertainment, that snapped up the rights. And with a plot about a boy genius in a futuristic military academy being trained to defend Earth from extraterrestrial hordes it could credibly boast the tagline that it’s “Harry Potter meets The Hunger Games.” Guaranteed box office gold, right?
Not so fast. Several experts say Ender’s Game author Orson Scott Card, also credited as a producer on the film, could pose a major problem for Summit as it begins its publicity campaign. Or, rather, his controversial politics do. Card has been at the forefront of the anti-gay marriage movement, acting as a board member of the National Organization for Marriage (NOM), which campaigned in favor of Proposition 8 in California. He’s said that if the U.S. government in any way allows states to legalize gay marriage, then the government will become his “mortal enemy,” and he will “act to destroy that government and bring it down.” He’s also advocated for sodomy laws to remain in place “to send a clear message that those who flagrantly violate society’s regulation of sexual behavior cannot be permitted to remain as acceptable, equal citizens within that society.”
Well the ship has sailed on Sodomy Laws. They’re gone ad they’re not coming back. As for his regarding a U.S. that approves of Marriage Equality as his “mortal enemy” andthat he will “act to destroy the government and bring it down” I do hope the Department of Homeland Secuity is aware of Card’s threats.
In the past, the largely male, largely young, largely geeky audience for the Ender’s Game movie, directed by Gavin Hood (X-Men Origins: Wolverine), starring Harrison Ford, Ben Kingsley, and Asa Butterfield, and due to be released Nov. 1, might not have been thought of as being easily offended by such rhetoric. Today, however, with acceptance of gay rights reaching an all-time high among American youth, and geek culture at the most progressive it’s ever been, that is not the case. Summit faces a major challenge in their marketing of the Ender’s Game movie that centers on two questions sci-fi fans will be asking themselves in the months leading up to its release: Is it possible to separate a book or movie from its author’s personal views? And is that compartmentalization morally defensible?
“The fact of the matter is that we’re already talking about the controversy surrounding the film now, and, for better or worse, the personal views of the story’s creator are going to continue to be a discussion point in the many months leading up to its release,” says Mark Umbach, a public relations and crisis management expert for Macias Media Group, a firm that helps connect entertainment industry clients, including movie studios, to the LGBT consumer base. Umbach hasn’t been brought in to consult on Summit’s promotion of the Ender’s Game movie but notes that the studio faces a major challenge in courting a gay audience for the film. “There is a huge LGBT audience for science fiction, and it’s going to be hard for those fans to separate Card’s comments from his work.”
Ari Karpel, an L.A.-based journalist who writes about movies and gay culture for The New York Times and Fast Company’s Co.Create site agrees. “The gay community has become adept at using social media to spread its opposition to perceived incidents of homophobia and really does have the power to taint the movie,” Karoel says. “While the gay audience itself is not necessarily the core audience for an Ender’s Game series of movies, the younger demographic is increasingly sensitive to gay civil rights issues. Moviegoers are savvy. It’s going to be hard to avoid making this an issue.”
As expected, the studio has not responded to Hollywood.com’s repeated requests for comment. Rich Ferraro, Vice President of Communications for the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD), has released the following statement: “Anti-gay activists like Card can’t expect to spread the same hateful and dangerous rhetoric they once did without it negatively impacting how the public views them. As a board-member of NOM, one of the most visible anti-gay organizations, Card is not merely a holder of anti-gay views but someone who has used his own fame and resources to actively make life more difficult for hard-working LGBT people and our families. He might still want the buying public to financially support his creative endeavors, but the public is responding with an affirmative “no.” (Important to note: as of this report, the organization is not planning a boycott of the Ender’s Game film.)
If you just look at the book sales for Ender’s Game, that “no” doesn’t seem as affirmative. As of March 1, it’s ranked as Amazon.com’s #16 bestselling science fiction novel, above George R.R. Martin’s A Clash of Kings and A Feast for Crows and Stephen King’s 11/22/63.However, it’s another controversy that shows what an uphill battle Summit has on its hands. DC Comics announced Feb. 6 that they’d hired Card to author a new Superman anthology. AllOut.org, a website devoted to LGBT activism, protested the hiring and has already gathered over 16,000 signatures for a petition to DC Comics to fire Card. DC Comics released a statement noting that Card’s “personal views” are not representative of the company’s, but that they “steadfastly support freedom of expression.” However, for those who could be directly affected by Card’s anti-gay marriage agenda, it’s harder to separate the Superman comic — and Ender’s Game —from its maker
“It’s extremely difficult for the LGBT community to compartmentalize a body of work or product from its creator, because the views of the creator, who generally has a pulpit from which to speak, so intimately affect their lives and their families,” Umbach says “It’s a direct attack on the basic liberties being afforded to other Americans.”
As if Card cares.
A number of comic book writers and artists are protesting Card’s hiring themselves. Phil Jimenez, who co-authored the DC Comics Encyclopedia and has penciled Wonder Woman comics for DC and New X-Men comics for Marvel says, “The messaging readers receive through Superman is really important — he’s a symbol of honesty, fairness, goodness, and justice — and I just feel like attaching someone so virulently bigoted to the character seems to taint him for me a little, and certainly ensures I don’t buy the works authored by such an individual.”
Card’s association with Superman is surprising given how much more sensitive the comics world has become regarding gay issues and the inclusion of gay characters. DC itself recently had the original Green Lantern, Alan Scott, come out of the closet, and Batwoman has been pursuing lesbian relationships in the pages of her comics. “As a writer, I’d like to say that it’s been the creators driving this [inclusivity], but really, I think it’s been the readership that has demanded more diversity over time,” says Batwoman author W. Haden Blackman. “Readers want to see more characters that reflect who they are, or the people they know and love… I’ve encountered virtually no homophobic response to my work on Batwoman. It’s been exactly the opposite, in fact.”
There certainly isn’t a 100% overlap between comics readers and the sci-fi audience that would buy a ticket to see the Ender’s Game movie, but the increasing openness in representing gay characters in comics, and the audience’s demand, including the straight audience’s demand, for that openness, is indicative of a larger shift in geek culture. “What has always impressed me about science fiction since I was a kid is that it is a progressive genre, one that explores ideas,” says Brannon Braga, wrtier/producer of the Star Trek series The Next Generation, Voyager, and Enterprise and co-creator of CBS’ Threshold and Fox’s Terra Nova. “In exploring ideas you can’t be closed minded. By definition, science fiction is also humanitarian.”
One thing that might work in Summit’s favor is the fact that the general audience just doesn’t know much about Card’s homophobia — if they know much about him at all. Aside from his placement on the board of the National Organization for Marriage, he’s expressed most of his anti-gay views to Mormon publications. “I didn’t know Orson Scott Card had some hateful aspects to his personality,” says Braga.
Well NOW they do!
That’s why Summit’s approach in addressing Card’s inflammatory views will likely be to just ignore them outright.
“That might be possible,” Karpel says. “Summit is the studio that managed to maintain Twilight’s cultural dominance amidst a scandal that could have toppled it: the revelation that Kristen Stewart had cheated on Robert Pattinson with Rupert Sanders, her Snow White and the Huntsman director. Summit expertly maneuvered through that one, but the controversy does seem to have had lingering effects for Stewart, who is not as beloved as she once was.” Hollywood studios have mastered the ability at circling the wagons and preventing controversial discussions from even starting, and that cone of silence doesn’t only extend to employees on their payroll. Several crisis management experts were approached to comment on this piece, and, other than Mark Umbach, all declined to contribute. Braga himself candidly admits, “It’s better in Hollywood to just lay low on issues like this. The only reason I’m giving [this interview], honestly, is because I really think there is something terrible and ultimately corruptible about hate and judging people as a group rather than considering them as individuals. It’s disgusting when people express the kinds of views this author has expressed and I felt a moral obligation to at least chime in.”
Likewise, the studio isn’t commenting at all on its strategy for promoting the film and, eight months before its release, it’s possible that they themselves haven’t hammered out their strategy. However, if they follow the template they used to market the final Twilight film in the wake of Kristen Stewart cheating scandal, that means one thing in particular could happen: Card could be left out of the film’s publicity. It seems almost unthinkable. It’d be like marketing the Harry Potter movies without J.K. Rowling. But leaving him out of the discussion may be preferable to putting him on a panel before a crowd of thousands in Hall H at Comic Con, where he might face questions that will distract from the film. “We have a whole younger generation who may not understand why marriage equality is even a debate topic,” Umbach says. “And those are people that are going to be in the audience at Comic Con. Putting Card in front of a huge audience may draw attention away from the film and put the focus on his personal ideologies, which could distract from the purpose of taking the principles to the convention…to support the film.”
Did you say “Comic-Con”? Well we allknow that scene — right Jonny?