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End Orson Scott Card’s “Game”?

Harrison Ford and Asa Butterfield star in the adaptation of Orson Scott Card’s classic novel.

Three and half months before the adaptation of Orson Scott Card’s classic sci-fi novel, Ender’s Game, hits theaters, controversy is beginning to boil. In response to anti-gay marriage statements made by Card, Geek’s Out, an LGBT-based online community, has called for a boycott of the film. The call for a boycott has been receiving considerable national coverage, but has been met by mixed reactions. One noteworthy critic of the boycott is Dustin Lance Black, writer of both the film Milk (chronicling the life of San Francisco’s first openly gay elected official) and the play 8 (detailing the historic overturning of Proposition 8). In Black’s view, Card’s limited involvement with a film that has nothing to do with the gay rights struggle is not a significant enough issue to merit mass protest.
Orson Scott Card, a member of the Mormon church, has long been vocal in his criticism of gay marriage and the homosexual lifestyle. Card’s critique of homosexuality stems from his theological framework, which is shaped around a sexual ethic which criticizes both homosexual and unregulated heterosexual activity. In his discussion of the issue, Card denies being a homophobe or being interested in ‘gay-bashing.’
The outcome of the firestorm surrounding Card and his book really has no bearing on the quality of the movie itself. But it is a fascinating example of the shifting tides in the homosexuality debate. While Card’s critiques of homosexuality would likely have been status quo when he released Ender’s Game in 1984, 19 years later, he has been cast out by the film studio which is producing his book.
In this shifting era, any critic of homosexual activity does seem to be pretty quickly labeled as a homophobe. Yet there does seem to be a distinction between Card and the folks from Westboro Baptist. While Westboro Baptist spews hatred, Card is holding onto an ethical framework which has never had much traction in American culture and now has even less. Simply put, in Card’s view, every individual struggles with sexual temptation of either heterosexual or homosexual nature, but through denial of empty carnal pleasures one can grow in relationship with the Divine God.
Card seeks to make an argument. But a question which probably bears asking is whether there is room in popular culture for a continued debate over questions of sexual ethics. Can an argument worth listening to be made against homosexual behavior or ought critics like Card simply be silenced? As a proponent of gay marriage, but also as an individual who seeks to be disciplined in his sexual passions, I find this to be a very worthwhile question. But as to whether this issue will keep me from seeing Ender’s Game this November – count me in Dustin Lance Black’s camp.