Written by Jeff Rose
In this installment of our Problematic Literary Faves column, I’d like to discuss Orson Scott Card, an author most famous for a little novel called Ender’s Game. He also happens to be very outspoken about his opposition to homosexuality and same-sex marriage. From 2009 to 2013, Card was a board director of the National Organization for Marriage, a group that campaigns against same-sex marriage, along with other LGBTQ rights.
As someone who read his iconic science-fiction novel in middle school, I tremendously enjoyed Ender’s story. The ideas Card presented over a fictional war that ranges in space through games seemed so wild, yet possible. As I was Ender’s age (ten) at the time, I really connected to his character even more so. Yet it was a shocking revelation to find out years later—after I solidified my identity as a member of the LGBTQ community—that Card vehemently protests against same-sex marriage.
This revelation came about in 2013, when the movie adaptation of Ender’s Game hit theaters. News headlines about Card’s beliefs on homosexuality and same-sex marriage, and his board directorship at the NOM, were prominent alongside the film’s articles. This prompted a LGBTQ group called Geeks Out! to boycott the movie, and as a result, the movie studio Lionsgate released a statement disagreeing with Card’s views.
However, statements can’t do much when people buy tickets or novels that will directly benefit Card and further allow him to have a platform that negatively influences others. Giving funds to the man who could potentially donate to harmful anti-LGBTQ groups, speak out against gay rights, and add discourse that only mentally harms the LGBTQ community is dangerous.
I think that’s the primary question one must ask when it comes to our favorite problematic creatives: Can my consumption of their media result in potential harm for others? If one of our disputable faves is deceased, there’s not really much harm they can do from beyond the grave. But if they’re still living, don’t we have a responsibility to make sure they don’t have the power or platform to negatively influence our world?
That’s why I haven’t bought any of Card’s works since that copy of Ender’s Game that I read back in middle school. Even if he’s resigned from the NOM, I don’t want to fund money to a person that will speak out and could work against the rights of my people and I. That’s not a harm I’m willing to risk.
But that’s up to the individual reader to decide. Making smart and responsible decisions about the media we consume, and the potential consequences brought forth from it is a power we all wield. And it’s one that must be done wisely.