Why I'll Be Seeing Ender's Game

(NOTE: Based on time elapsed since the posting of this entry, the BS-o-meter calculates this is 14.472% likely to be something that Ferrett now regrets.)

(EDIT: Upon being presented with new facts, in fact, I shall not see it.  Read here to see why.)
In case you’re not aware, Orson Scott Card is the kind of guy who’s happy to spend his paycheck on anti-gay causes.  (He’s also a little crazy with his Obama-as-Hitler theories, which doesn’t help.)  And now the big-screen version of his greatest book, Ender’s Game, is hitting the screen in November – and a lot of my friends are boycotting the film.
I don’t blame them.  But I’ll be there.
Thing is, if I thought Orson was getting more money out of this, I’d stay at home in a New York minute.  But Hollywood is famed for being the place where authors have zero power, and I will personally eat all of my hats if OSC is getting any money on the back end from the film’s success.  He got paid when they optioned his novel, which means that basically, it’s too late to prevent OSC from profiting from the movie.  The cash is in his bank.  The movie’s been floating around in Hollywood for so long, one suspects he’s spent it already.
Orson Scott Card will profit handsomely from the movie tie-in books – I know from bookstore experience that getting your book shoved to the front table with a movie backing it means that your sales will go up considerably – but again, that’s not anything “boycotting the movie” will prevent.  His sales will go up riotously even if Ender’s Game tanks, as he’s got a classic book that most people in sci-fi considered a “must-read” before he started spewing bile, so realistically, I’m not stopping him from earning cash off that.
And given that there’s nothing I can do to stop him from making money, I figure I might as well see the film.  The trailers look good, if a bit misguided (what I find compelling about Ender’s Game is Ender’s isolation and intellect, his being forced to grow in effective ways that truncate his humanity, and the trailers make him sound like The Chosen One), and I loved the story even as I acknowledge that certain elements of it are problematic.  So I’ll dump the eight bucks to go see it, and see whether it’s a good film (assuming the reviews aren’t “STAY AWAY!”), and turn my brain off for an hour or two.
Because I don’t think my attending or not-attending will send a significant message.  Me boycotting the Chik Fil-A across the street is something I’ll do because I think it’s effective on some level; OSC’s already got his cash, and the money I shell out at the box office is going to people who are largely for gay rights.
I’ve registered my personal complaint against OSC by not having purchased any of his books since he began frothing in such a manner – haven’t picked up any sequels since Ender’s Shadow (which I loved), and when I re-read Ender’s Game, I went out of my way to borrow a copy from a friend.  And that, I feel, hurts him more than the movie.
Now, this brings up the question of, “How dare you want to punish someone for their political views?” which always arises in here, and the summary argument is, I am not obligated to give my money to talented assholes.  If I think OSC’s a jerk, “not rewarding his bad behavior with cash” is something that’s an option to me, because my money?  Is mine.  I don’t have to hand it over to people I find personally repugnant.  That’s not a “boycott” so much as “I would feel bad knowing that I’m buying books from foaming idiots when there are books just as good available from nicer people.”
(Which is fair.  Some people dislike me personally, and don’t read my stories because that would make them feel bad.  I support their efforts to cleanse me from their lives.)
It’s like going to the Starbucks where the guy gives you a coffee, but whispers that he hates your wife under his breath as he serves the espresso.  You can argue all you like that the focus should be on the coffee, but realistically you’re never buying just a coffee, you’re buying an experience.  And if the experience surrounding that coffee is sufficiently unpleasant, there’s a pretty good indie coffee shop across the street.
But even more than that, OSC is a particular target because he’s spent his money campaigning to hurt and restrain people I love.  This isn’t just “Orson Scott Card is an asshat”; it’s “Orson Scott Card is spending some percentage of his income on causes I find toxic.”  If I found out that Stephen King was the head of the “Starve A Kitten” foundation, I’d have a similar reaction.  For most authors, I’ll just say, “All right, she’s a jerk, I’ve got better books to buy,” but OSC escalated by funneling his profits towards thwarting gay marriage.  I do not want to donate to anti-gay marriage, even in a roundabout way, nor do I want to see anti-gay marriage causes funded, so I want OSC not to prosper.
It’s a little mean.  But he clearly believes in his cause, and as such I think he’s smart enough to see what it’ll cost him.  Should he continue, he’s made his choice, and I’ve made mine.  Trying to argue that his stance shouldn’t influence mine is basically saying that I shouldn’t have stances.  I’ll debate that.
And my choice is that the movie isn’t going to really hurt OSC at this point.  Worst-case scenario is that Ender’s Game is a huge success and they try to option Speaker for the Dead (if they haven’t already), in which case I think Hollywood will be Very Unhappy at trying to turn that dissatisfying sequel into a movie.  But I doubt that’ll happen, because Asa Butterfield will be too old by then anyway.
So I’ll pay my cash to see what I anticipate will be a B- movie, with lots of loud explosions and none of the striking heart that made Ender’s Game such a moving experience.  But that’s okay.  I like explosions.

1 Comment

  1. Skennedy
    Oct 8, 2013

    Your link just blew my mind and utterly changed the way I see that book.


  1. Why I Won’t Be Seeing Ender’s Game (A Recanting) | Ferrett Steinmetz - […] I outlined the reasons I’d be seeing Ender’s Game in the theaters - mainly, because Orson Scott Card gives…

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