Art Over the Artist (Update)

Back in March I posted a few comments about Orson Scott Card and the reaction to his proposed contribution to a Superman anthology. Due to Card’s strong opinions on and public campaigning against gay marriage. (His opinions on the matter are made clear here in this piece he wrote for the Mormon Times). There followed a very public backlash against these views being associated with Superman, and now an online campaign is building up steam to boycott the upcoming release of the movie adaptation of Card’s 1984 novel Ender’s Game.

This week Card released a statement through Entertainment Weekly about the situation. Here it is in full:

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.

Orson Scott Card

I’m torn by this, as there is a part of me wants to agree with him. As he says the book, and film, are not pieces promoting his opinions. His written work and his political and religious views are separate. Shouldn’t we be able to enjoy them? And I also feel I should be happy with his comment that essentially says “You won, I accept this, let’s move on.”

But if you read the whole article he wrote for the Mormon Times back in 2008 you see that this opinion cannot be his. Here is a direct quote from that article regarding any government that passes laws that equalise gay marriage:

I will act to destroy that government and bring it down, so it can be replaced with a government that will respect and support marriage, and help me raise my children in a society where they will expect to marry in their turn.

Does that sound like the opinion of someone who considers the matter “moot”? Have a read of that article. It is the perfect summation of how an intelligent person can look at facts through personal opinions and filter out a desired answer. It’s an exacting example of how homophobia, or any prejudice, can exists in an intelligent society.

I’m especially impressed by the last paragraph. You’ve always got to enjoy the old ‘If you’re so tolerant why are you judging me’ argument. It shows up the misguided viewpoint of people who can’t tell the difference between judging someone for promoting an unfounded and archaic opinion rather than something they are born as.

Card’s statement reeks of the studio and publishers PR Departments. While I understand and believe that a man can change his opinions, I’m going to need to see a lot more evidence than this. Especially as it’s in response to something that could lose the studios a lot of money. Any other time I might have been swayed, but this is all about lost ticket sales.

In my previous article I did not attempt to make a final decision whether we can enjoy Art despite the views or personality of the Artist. I said that it was always going to be something we must judge on a case by case basis. I was personally just not going to bother seeing the film adaptation of Ender’s Game. I might have, but I was leaning against it. But now having read this studio written, slightly bitter plea to forget about it, I find it’s actually pushed me towards a more hardline stance again Card’s work.

Where before I was mildly interested, now I find I do want there to be a successful boycott of this film. It’s not going to affect Card’s talent or success, and I doubt it will change his misguided and 50 years out of date views on homosexuality and marriage. But it will be a wonderfully grand statement that society as a whole does not condone the views that Card seeks to promote.

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