Sunday, November 10, 2013

Ender's Game: What Me Boycott?

This article is directed to those who wish to boycott the movie Ender's Game.  I won't stand up for what the author, Orson Scott Card, has written in the past (as he's written some really stupid things).  But I would like to ask you to reconsider the boycott.

To catch up others who have no idea what I'm talking about:  The pro-gay organization, Geeks Out, has launched a Skip Ender's Game campaign.  The idea is simple ... Orson Scott Card has written articles denouncing homosexuality, and has been a member of the board of the National Organization for Marriage (NOM), which is known for its fight against gay marriage, including efforts like Proposition 8.  To retaliate against Orson, Geeks Out asks pro-gay people to choose not to go see the movie.  As they say: "Don't Give The Bigot A Buck."

Now back to my fellow protestors:  I don't blame you guys ... after all, this is America, where one can peacefully protest through withholding funds.  There's nothing illegal in that.  I applaud you for standing up for what you believe in.

On the surface, it seems like a noble effort.  For example, check out the mission statement near the bottom of the Geeks Out website:
"Geeks OUT aims to offer and maintain a visible and vivacious queer presence at geek events, fostering inclusivity and openness within our community."
Who can argue against that?  After all, if you're against inclusivity and openness, then that makes you a bigot ... right?

If you're gay, you want everyone to accept you for who you are, and you want everyone to include you.  You don't want to hide in a closet.  You know all about inclusivity and openness, and would expect others to treat you as you would treat them.  And further ... I would expect you to show the same inclusivity and openness to me that I show to you.

But now I ask: does that inclusivity include our friend Mr. Card?

I'll let you think about that for a moment.  What is your ultimate goal in boycotting Ender's Game?  Is it to make the world a better place, hoping that more people will see the boycott and be more willing to accept gay people, and eventually support gay marriage across all 50 states?  Or is it rather to punish one individual and attempt to ruin his career and use him as an example for other artists ... you better support our views or else?

If it's the latter, then keep reading.  What exactly do you want to happen to Mr. Card?  Do you want him to stop writing books and become a lonely bigoted hermit ... an outcast of society for his crimes against humanity?  Or would you rather have Mr. Card come to a better understanding of what you're going through and learn to accept you for what you are?

If it's the latter, then there's hope for you.  But if you'd rather Card just go in a corner and die, then I would respond ... "Now that doesn't sound very inclusive of you."

Before you react, I invite you to consider it just one more time:  Do you really, really, really believe in inclusivity?  Then why do wish Mr. Card to fail?

When the gay community successfully blocked Mr. Card's Superman story this year from being published, what was the message?  "Sorry.  Anyone can write Superman stories, but not you.  I don't care if your story is about tolerance and inclusion ... we just don't want you writing."

This is all ironic, especially considering that Ender's Game is all about tolerance, inclusion, and forgiveness.  It's ironic that Orson Scott Card was one of the first to portray a gay person in a positive light in his 1980 novel Songmaster.

As for Mr. Card's ability to thwart gay marriage, he has given up the fight.  He has stepped down from the Board of NOM and has admitted defeat.  He has very little money of his own available to donate to ANY cause, let alone any anti-gay organization.  Orson is just one man ... and one who has been rendered impotent in the fight against gay marriage.

Thus, supporting Ender's Game would have nearly zero impact in supporting anti-gay causes.

In fact, (and this is what I hope to get you to understand) I think the boycott against Ender's Game has had more of a negative effect than a positive one.  Why?  Because I think people pick up more on the non-inclusivity angle of the boycott.  What was it Patrick Yacco, Board member of Geeks Out, said of the boycott?
"Hopefully, it will send a message that people who are actively vocal against the LGBT community don’t really have a place within the greater geek culture."
Many people sitting on the fence (including anyone of a hundred million US citizens) pick up on the negativity of this statement, see it as a "threat," sense intolerance on the part of the protestors, and end up having less sympathy for gay causes.  Others may decide to go to the movie twice or invite friends to join (like me) in order to counteract the protest ... because we care more about the stories than we do the politics behind the scenes ... because we believe products should be boycotted on their own merits/faults ... and really, really, because we just want to see more of Mr. Card's stories being turned into movies.  He writes good stuff!

This "negative" effect was experienced in the Chick-Fil-A boycott.  The company ended up winning big, as counter-protestors came in to show their support for the product.  And the company won again when Cathy changed their donation practices.  The boycott helped, rather than hurt Cathy, but then again ... it was a successful boycott in that it convinced Cathy to change his mind.

But what would be the signs of a successful boycott against Orson Scott Card?  His lonely death?  And a good family left without support?

And would it stop with Orson Scott Card?  What about people like me who happen to be Mormon, but have yet to speak an ill word against a gay person?  Will you ban my books and my movies just because of my affiliation with the religion I grew up in and came to love?  Is there a place for me in your brave new world?  Would I have to change myself to be accepted?  Would I be required to renounce my religion ... or else?

I hope you would find forgiveness for my favorite living author, who is now rendered harmless.  Accept him for who he is.  Help him understand.  Be inclusive.

Look at how other gay activists are handling the boycott.  Dustin Lance Black, writer of the true story Milk, has called the boycott 'misguided.'  The prominent activist George Takei has been silent on the issue, though he has had several people try to get him to join the fight.  Note in contrast how George Takei chooses to take the route of showing people how "normal" and "fun" gay people can be.  In my opinion, George uses more positive than negative techniques, and has done much more in kindling support for gay causes than all these attempts to boycott.

In my opinion, if you look inside yourself and admit that you want to see the movie ... if you loved reading the book when you were a kid ... then you should go ahead and see the movie.  Support the efforts of the director, actors, and producers, of whom 99% are pro-gay.  You won't be betraying your people.  Rather, you will be exhibiting inclusiveness and forgiveness ... and then the world will become a better place.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Ender's Game - Is It the Last?

Ender's Game, starring Asa Butterfield, Harrison Ford, and Ben Kingsley, was an enjoyable ride, and I hope we get to see more Orson Scott Card book adaptations.

Yes ... I know ... if you've been reading my blog from the beginning, you know I have a strange bromance with this author.  I just love the way he writes.  His stories are always interesting and thought provoking.

And yes ... my review might be a little biased, because I know what Uncle Orson has said: If Ender's Game bombs, then I'm not doing another movie.  So, I'll go ahead and admit ... I want this movie to succeed.  Still, I'll try my best to give a non-biased review.

As a fan of the book, I enjoyed it and was amazed at the adaptation.  Most of the good parts of the book make it into the movie.  I enjoyed watching Ender going through all his stages in Battle School and his promotions.  I loved the portrayals, with Ender, Graff, and Mazer being the strongest matches.  The CGI was well done, and the climax was pretty awesome.

Harrison Ford gave a great performance (after a not-so-great performance in Cowboys and Aliens).  He successfully pulled off the mentor and manipulator angle.

Some parts felt rushed.  For example (very minor spoiler), at the beginning of Battle School, when the kids go out in zero G for the first time, Ender immediately comes up with "The enemy gate is down."  But he does so prior to learning the rules of the game.  The book, instead (as I remember) has the kids flailing around in a couple of matches before Ender comes up with that gem.  And then this idea isn't really used for the rest of the movie.  It's only in there to please the fans who want to hear that line.

Then again, I understand that in a two hour movie, sacrifices have to be made.  While things are being rushed through, there's hardly any time to get bored.  The fast pace keeps the whole movie interesting and watchable.  (Though I'd like to see this movie redone as a miniseries ... that would be awesome!)

Also, there were some strange changes made that I didn't understand.  For example, the Command School was moved from the local Eros to some far away outpost near the Formic homeworld.  When Ender was transported across many light years, I struggled to remember if Earth had the technology to warp like that.  I thought that came in the later books.  And also, I couldn't understand why the change facilitated anything that made the story more portable into the movie format.  It was distracting, but not enough to make me hate the movie.

I have to mention one "bad science" moment.  Right before they entered zero G, the gravity was all wrong.  The room just outside the gate would actually be spinning in relation to the battle room (which would be stationary).  Again ... not enough to kill the movie.

Finally, I should warn you that the anticlimactic ending in the book is pretty much replicated in the movie.  I think someone who hasn't read the book might be confused by what's supposed to be a transition from the Ender's Game proper to the second book in the series.

My suggestion ... go see the movie.  It's pretty cool in IMAX.  If you want to see it in that format, you better go in the next couple of days, because I think Thor will be needing that room.  Help this movie to be a success and let my favorite author know that we want to see more of his books turned into movies.