It's not unusual to like an author's work and hate their political views or personality, but Orson Scott Card's vocal opposition to homosexuality has proved a sticking point for fans. With a film adaptation of Ender's Game coming out later this year, queer geek-focused organization Geeks Out has led a project called "Skip Ender's Game," urging moviegoers to boycott the film. Now, days before Ender's Game is showcased at San Diego Comic-Con, distributor Lionsgate is offering an olive branch. The company released a statement earlier today, calling Card's views on homosexuality "irrelevant" to the film and promising to hold a "benefit premiere" for LGBT groups.
Here's the statement, as published on Deadline:
As proud longtime supporters of the LGBT community, champions of films ranging from Gods and Monsters to The Perks of Being a Wallflower and a company that is proud to have recognized same-sex unions and domestic partnerships within its employee benefits policies for many years, we obviously do not agree with the personal views of Orson Scott Card and those of the National Organization for Marriage. However, they are completely irrelevant to a discussion of Ender's Game. The simple fact is that neither the underlying book nor the film itself reflect these views in any way, shape or form.
On the contrary, the film not only transports viewers to an entertaining and action-filled world, but it does so with positive and inspiring characters who ultimately deliver an ennobling and life-affirming message. Lionsgate will continue its longstanding commitment to the LGBT community by exploring new ways we can support LGBT causes and, as part of this ongoing process, will host a benefit premiere for Ender's Game.
"We obviously do not agree with the personal views of Orson Scott Card."
As noted by Lionsgate, Card has been particularly vehement in his opposition to gay marriage and often the concept of homosexuality itself. Over the years, he's done everything from claim that homosexuality is caused by "disturbing seduction or rape or molestation or abuse" to advocate overthrowing the government if gay marriage is legalized. He's also on the board of the National Organization for Marriage, an anti-gay political group. But in light of an upcoming Ender's Game film and two key Supreme Court decisions, Card has dramatically dialed back his rhetoric. In a statement on July 8th, Card distanced Ender's Game from his political views and urged gay rights groups to "show tolerance" towards him.
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. With the recent Supreme Court ruling, the gay marriage issue becomes moot. The Full Faith and Credit clause of the Constitution will, sooner or later, give legal force in every state to any marriage contract recognized by any other state. 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.
It's not clear that Card would support the benefits premiere for LGBT groups, or what exactly those benefits entail. As far as we can tell, Card himself isn't appearing at any panels or events at San Diego Comic-Con, though there's no indication that's because of any rift between him and Lionsgate. Generally, of course, the people boycotting Ender's Game aren't saying the book itself is homophobic: Geeks Out is asking supporters to "not subsidize his fear-mongering and religious bullying. We will not pay him to demean, insult, and oppress us."
Lionsgate's statement is a clear attempt to smooth things over, but it also raises its own set of worries. A quick poll of The Verge office suggests that any film that "transports viewers to an entertaining and action-filled world, but ... does so with positive and inspiring characters who ultimately deliver an ennobling and life-affirming message" is probably not actually based on Ender's Game.