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tigtog blogs a lot elsewhere, but here on Feministe she mostly does the tech support and feeds the giraffe. tigtog tweets in irregular flurries @vivsmythe.
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128 Responses

  1. Odin
    Odin July 17, 2013 at 5:56 pm |

    The one thing that irritates me the most about the To Boycott Or To Not Boycott discussion is that most of it leaves out the fact that Card, as someone on the board of directors of NOM, has taken direct _action_ to do harm to LGBT individuals and their families. Scalzi made a mention of Card’s actions early in his post (and people have been discussing it in the comments), but most of his otherwise excellent post focused on _speech_.

  2. A4
    A4 July 17, 2013 at 5:57 pm |

    He doesn’t nail anything. He doesn’t even explicitly say what Card’s positions on the rights of gays and lesbians is. He just obliquely refers to this position as the reason one might “boycott” the film. He does however admonish his readers not to criticize the Church of LDS because he knows some very nice LDS folk and mentions several times how much he likes Card personally.

    It all comes across as “If you’re going to be so low minded to boycott this great artist because of some distasteful political opinions I will not quote here then I won’t hold it against you. I, however, with my lofty ideals of art and creativity will not be doing so.”

    You know what would be interesting though, is reflecting on how it might feel to be a young gay person who thoroughly enjoys a book and then finds out that the author hates people like you. How that might leave a sense of betrayal that makes it hard to “believe art is a highly composed, refined, edited and intentional end result of a process that takes place in a mind which can be almost anything” and decide “It’s not usually the art’s fault the brain it came out of is directly connected to an asshole”

    This article isn’t very thoughtful, and it’s pretty self serving.

    1. macavitykitsune
      macavitykitsune July 17, 2013 at 6:18 pm |

      It all comes across as “If you’re going to be so low minded to boycott this great artist because of some distasteful political opinions I will not quote here then I won’t hold it against you. I, however, with my lofty ideals of art and creativity will not be doing so.”

      Yeah. I usually quite like Scalzi’s social justice stuff but I have to admit, my hackles were raised by the “well you know an opinion’s just an opinion” thing. Because frankly it isn’t. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I still buy books by some authors who’ve said some weird/problematic things (hey, Scalzi’s on that list too), but I tend to file that under “nobody’s perfect”. Being on the board of NOM? Calling for the death of all LGBT people? No and fuck no, that is not just “not perfect”, that’s horrific. And hey, you know, I’m not perfect; I’ve said some shitty things here that I’ve been called out on and regretted saying, sometimes the second I hit “post”. But there’s a world of difference between a random primarily-fandom-blogger saying shitty things on the internet, and using the wide influence of a national organisation to call for what amounts to genocide.

      You know what would be interesting though, is reflecting on how it might feel to be a young gay person who thoroughly enjoys a book and then finds out that the author hates people like you.

      Been there. Cried my face off. Had my share of encountering racists that way, too (hi, Mercedes Lackey/Terry Goodkind). I’d be happy to write out my feelings on that kind of disappointment and quasi-betrayal, if someone would volunteer to go around stapling the result to the foreheads of any SWACG they run into.

      1. Radiant Sophia
        Radiant Sophia July 17, 2013 at 7:17 pm |

        To be fair, I can’t recall Card calling for the death of all LGBT people, their imprisonment, yes, but not their death.

      2. stonebiscuit
        stonebiscuit July 17, 2013 at 9:49 pm |

        Been there. Cried my face off.

        Had this moment when I first saw Taming of the Shrew. Broke my young, idealistic freshman-theatre-major-at-a-women’s-college heart, and I cried all the way home. It was finding out the person I wanted most to be like would hate me, or at least not see me as fully human. That fucking sucks.

        1. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune July 17, 2013 at 10:03 pm |

          @Radiant Sophia

          Well, no, that’s NOM, but he’s on the board, so I’m going to say he’s down with the message. (Also, good to see you around again! ^__^ )

          @Stonebiscuit yeah. Exactly. I guess the more privileged axes one occupies, the harder it is to experience that…

      3. oldscrumby
        oldscrumby July 18, 2013 at 12:15 am |

        Mercedes Lackey is racist? Based on her love of noble-savage and other fetishistic POCs, or is there something outside her novels?
        I’m not defending her, just curious. The last book I read by her was down-right mean with it’s moralizing and preachiness, to the point I actually went back and reread an older book to see if it was just something that went over my head when I was younger. Nope, and now I’m a little baffled that I somehow missed her turning into something so awful.

        1. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune July 18, 2013 at 12:34 am |

          You know, I don’t think Lackey’s ever said anything racist outside her novels. I was actually a fan for a long time before I ran into this one novel, I think it was called the Wizard of London, and it was like some sort of south Asian racist bingo. Jaw-droppingly racist, and I like to think I have a decent capacity to look past ignorance, but it just wasn’t it. It’s like she read every racist work on India* and concluded that that was Rly Cool. And then the next couple of novels of hers I read were weirdly fetishistic about POC (I don’t remember the titles right now, I was reading while sick), so I just… yeah. And she seems to be getting more moralising with the years, afaict. (And don’t ask me about the homophobia implicit in the Five Hundred Kingdoms series unless you want ragefroth.)

          *I am aware that south Asia is way more than India, but tell that to the Raj, yo.

        2. EG
          EG July 18, 2013 at 12:40 am |

          I want rage-froth! I read the first 500 Kingdoms book and thought it was crap, particularly because it contains the line “Her heart was literally in her mouth,” when in fact the character was nervous rather than the victim of a particularly nasty serial killer.

        3. Chataya
          Chataya July 18, 2013 at 11:37 am |

          She also had an evil crazy trans* lesbian who is constantly misgendered in one of her Diana Tregarde novels.

      4. oldscrumby
        oldscrumby July 18, 2013 at 1:39 am |

        For some reason I can’t reply to your reply so…
        Wizard of Fucking London! That book just broke me on that entire series. Which is sad because I really liked the premise of the fairy tale retelling and the elemental magic in Victorian/Edwardian England. But that damn books was so saccharine and condescending about every aspect of it, it was intolerable. It’s really more commonwealth racist bingo, since the one girl was taught by, and gifted with her spirit parrot by an African shaman. From what tribe from what part of the continent practicing what kind of magic? Never said. Just some African person. At least her fake Native Americans had specific places they lived, distinct cultures, and could be conceived to have lives beyond the white people even if the narrative didn’t show that.
        And I’m actually curious about the homophobia in 500 Kingdoms because A. I made it through one book and washed my hands of that complete waste of an interesting premise and B. I got this vibe from the last Valdemar book that she was really rubbing in how not-gay the protagonist was, which seemed in weird contrast to her early work and then I realized, unlike pretty much every other book in that universe, there weren’t even gay side characters… and I feel the need to say if you don’t want to keep talking about the subtext of Mercedes Lackey books feel free not to respond. I just enjoy going on about this sort of thing.

        1. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune July 18, 2013 at 1:03 pm |

          Eek, I forgot to reply to this!

          It’s really more commonwealth racist bingo

          You’re absolutely right. I was so caught up in the rage over the desi-oriented racism that the rest didn’t ping as offensive. (This time it’s personal, etc.)

          A. I made it through one book and washed my hands of that complete waste of an interesting premise and B. I got this vibe from the last Valdemar book that she was really rubbing in how not-gay the protagonist was

          Okay, homophobia in 500 Kingdoms… well, mostly it does definitely fall into the rubbing in of not-gay protagonists. However, there’s things, such as the plot resolution at the end of Fairy Godmother hinging exclusively on the idea that no one can possibly fall in true love, or even in magically induced lust, with someone of the same gender (tl;dr Magical Device Demands that a princess fall in love with whoever rescues her, no matter that she’s married and in love with someone else. But the second she sees she’s been rescued by a woman all that magic just poofs away and she’s completely free of its force, even though it was canonically stated to be impossibly strong). There’s also a bunch of microaggressive “eww am not gayyyyy” involved in another of the stories, which revolves around a female knight cross-dressing as cover. Again, magic that should have forced the knight to fall for a princess mysteriously doesn’t kick in (and is part of how the princess figures out the knight’s a girl, iirc). Which really infuriated me, because the damn series ends with interspecies pairings. Human/dragon=awww! Human/human of the same sex=impossible because Nature and Righteousness and Laws Of Reality! (Keeping in mind that this is a world where magic can literally make you feel anything for anyone, no matter how inappropriate or horrific the results.)

          Yeah. I just. I actually liked a couple of books in the series, which were the ones I read first. I wish it weren’t tainted by the icky for me, now.

      5. oldscrumby
        oldscrumby July 18, 2013 at 7:20 pm |

        That fits in perfectly with the whole “wasted premise” I was talking about. The magic was portrayed as an unlikable force in people’s lives that brought as much damage as it did happy endings; characters succeeded when they found their way around what the magic wanted them to do. Is that not a perfect metaphor for operating in an oppressive culture? But instead of exploiting the premise to show how shitty that sort of rigid societal structure is leading to a natural impulse to take it down, Lackey seemed to embrace it with a “over-all it works great, and the people that it fucks just need to find their place!” What a crock of shit.

        1. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune July 18, 2013 at 7:28 pm |

          Yeah, there was that, too. I was really enjoying how, in Fairy Godmother, the magic was eventually narratively positioned as a sort of Blue And Orange Morality that in effect caused spiritual rape. But the earlier (later? FG is the chronologically latest but narratively first book) books characters were all “aww look at that magical relationship, it’s okay because we like each other”. Personally, if I lived within such a reality framework I’d feel completely intellectually violated and unable to trust anything. But maybe my life and outlook isn’t Magickal enough.

        2. moviemaedchen
          moviemaedchen July 18, 2013 at 8:14 pm |

          @mac:

          Personally, if I lived within such a reality framework I’d feel completely intellectually violated and unable to trust anything. But maybe my life and outlook isn’t Magickal enough.

          Word. I haven’t read that book in particular, but this is one of the reasons I don’t typically like the whole “soul-bond” / magical bond plot in fanfic (or original fic, for that matter), unless it happens between characters who were already in a committed relationship and it’s something they can end if they choose. It feels too constraining and usually just renders consent irrelevant, and the “they were meant to be together!” line never works for me.

    2. matlun
      matlun July 17, 2013 at 6:52 pm |

      You know what would be interesting though, is reflecting on how it might feel to be a young gay person who thoroughly enjoys a book and then finds out that the author hates people like you.

      This type of argument is fairly common, but personally I am afraid I can not understand and relate to it at all.

      Not being gay, I have not had that exact experience, but finding out that a great artist whose work you admire is actually an enormous douche (in one way or another) is something probably everyone has experienced. But why should that be seen as detracting from the quality of the work itself?

      If someone could explain this, I would be very interested (though I am afraid I can not offer my stapling services. Sorry, mac)

      The economic argument of not wanting to give money to someone like Card is to me much easier to understand.

      1. macavitykitsune
        macavitykitsune July 17, 2013 at 7:07 pm |

        Well, think of it like this. You go to an expensive, beloved, brilliant restaurant, and order your favourite food, which you always order every Wednesday evening, with your usual side of iced tea. And then, just before your server brings that meal to your table, this other server murmurs, confidentially, “You do know that the owner pisses in your iced tea, right?”

        Naturally, you’re shocked. And disgusted. So when your server turns up, you say “Er, sorry, but does the owner piss in this iced tea?”

        “Yep, sure does. Every time. Has for years.”

        “Why?”

        “He really hates people on Wednesday evenings.”

        “…oh. So does he piss in all my food?”

        “Nope, just the iced tea. He doesn’t like iced tea either. Was there anything else?”

        At which point, you’re faced with an interesting choice. This is your favouritest restaurant, and your favouritest meal, and sure, none of the things except the iced tea gets pissed in, so it’s all good to eat. You could technically go to this restaurant for the rest of your life, never order iced tea, and still receive that expensive, beloved, brilliant meal you so adore, completely pissless. Or you could change, go to the restaurant on Tuesday evenings, and even keep ordering iced tea! In fact, since you’ve never actually tasted the piss in the iced tea even though it was there all along, you could conceivably change nothing about your routine and your life would in no way be different, except for your knowledge of the piss in the iced tea you drink every Wednesday.

        So…what would you do?

        1. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune July 17, 2013 at 7:09 pm |

          (In case it wasn’t obvious, that was a reply to this:

          But why should that be seen as detracting from the quality of the work itself?

          )

        2. matlun
          matlun July 17, 2013 at 7:51 pm |

          Thanks for the answer. I am not sure if I see the analogy, though, since one is a difference in knowledge about the creator and one about the work itself.

          The restaurant example would perhaps be more similar to realizing that a book is misogynistic or racist. Once you have been able to see that in the narrative, you can not unsee it and your perception of the story will never be the same.

          Would you say that it is an example of magical thinking? For example similar to:
          You buy a second hand sweater that you find very comfortable. Then you find out that the previous owner was an especially cruel and evil pedophile. You no longer find the sweater as comfortable and relaxing.

        3. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune July 17, 2013 at 7:57 pm |

          I am not sure if I see the analogy, though, since one is a difference in knowledge about the creator and one about the work itself.

          Well, yes and no. You could technically never order iced tea and enjoy brilliant meals. The question remains if you’d want to continue to buy meals from a restaurant where the owner’s repeatedly pissed in your iced tea, even if you didn’t know it at the time, and even if the future meals are completely body-fluid-free.

      2. A4
        A4 July 17, 2013 at 10:43 pm |

        but finding out that a great artist whose work you admire is actually an enormous douche (in one way or another) is something probably everyone has experienced. But why should that be seen as detracting from the quality of the work itself?

        Because you’re like 14.

        1. BabyRaptor
          BabyRaptor July 18, 2013 at 12:50 am |

          Because I paid for Brandon Sanderson’s books, meaning I put money into funding the life of someone who would deny me the very rights he enjoys.

          Because I paid for those waffle fries I used to love so much at Chic-Fil-A, meaning my money went on to fund laws/lobbyists/ETC that were desperately trying to keep me second-class.

          (I used Chic-Fil-A in the second example because I’ve never paid for anything of Card’s; I’ve never read anything of his. But I think you could stick his name in there and it would still work.)

          The point is that some people are uncomfortable padding the bank accounts of the beings that want to oppress them. That has nothing to do with immaturity or age, as you seem to imply. It’s not wanting to be complicit in your own suffering.

        2. thinksnake
          thinksnake July 18, 2013 at 3:33 am |

          Wait – Sanderson’s shit too? I know he’s a Mormon, but certainly his writing is a lot more inclusive of diverse sexualities/races/genders than many others in the epic fantasy genre.

        3. A4
          A4 July 18, 2013 at 7:40 am |

          The point is that some people are uncomfortable padding the bank accounts of the beings that want to oppress them. That has nothing to do with immaturity or age, as you seem to imply. It’s not wanting to be complicit in your own suffering.

          I should have said
          “Because I was like 14″

        4. moviemaedchen
          moviemaedchen July 18, 2013 at 8:16 pm |

          The point is that some people are uncomfortable padding the bank accounts of the beings that want to oppress them. That has nothing to do with immaturity or age, as you seem to imply. It’s not wanting to be complicit in your own suffering.

          @BabyRaptor: THIS. Why should I give my scant cash to someone who thinks I ought to be imprisoned or killed and actually works to increase my oppression?

      3. Donna L
        Donna L July 18, 2013 at 1:37 am |

        but finding out that a great artist whose work you admire is actually an enormous douche (in one way or another) is something probably everyone has experienced. But why should that be seen as detracting from the quality of the work itself?

        But not everybody has experienced finding out that a great artist whose work you admire (or are expected to admire) hates people like oneself and, sometimes, would be happy to see them dead. Do you seriously need to ask why that detracts from the quality of the work? As if the work is entirely separate from its creator, and the creator’s worldviews never have any influence on the content of the work itself? A book is not a sweater, for God’s sake. I guess you’re fortunate. Do you have any idea whatsoever how often I discover that a well-known artist hates Jews? Or gay people? Or, more commonly all the time, trans people? Just today, I learned that a well-known editor and reviewer had recently said some truly awful things about trans people (the whole nondisclosure = rape business). I’m not supposed to look at anything this person writes with a jaundiced eye from now on? I’m supposed to be able to judge someone like Ezra Pound objectively? If it turns out to be true that Vliet Tiptree, of radfem hub fame, is really one of the two sisters who collectively constitute a famous mystery writer, I’m supposed to ignore that? And from everything I’ve read, it’s ludicrous to suggest that Orson Scott Card’s views don’t permeate his work. (Even absent express homophobia.)

        1. matlun
          matlun July 18, 2013 at 4:29 am |

          Do you seriously need to ask why that detracts from the quality of the work?

          It was a honestly asked question.
          It can probably be seen as just a sign of my lack of understanding of human psychology.

          I should add that I do not make an value judgment here. How much you appreciate a book or work of art is by definition subjective, and this includes the question of which factors that affect your personal enjoyment of a work.

          And from everything I’ve read, it’s ludicrous to suggest that Orson Scott Card’s views don’t permeate his work…

          If that is the case, that would be different since then you could have a valid direct criticism of the work as opposed to “just” the author. Personally I did not see this in for example Ender’s Game or Speaker for the Dead (my two favorite books by Card), but YMMV

        2. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune July 18, 2013 at 9:53 am |

          Personally I did not see this in for example Ender’s Game or Speaker for the Dead (my two favorite books by Card), but YMMV

          Really? The lead character fights “buggers” and nobody ever saw the homophobia coming?

          I mean, I’ve never read the damn books (and encountering “buggers” immediately on opening the book’s cover to a random page was why), but are you kidding me?

        3. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune July 18, 2013 at 9:56 am |

          I mean, to draw an analogy, it’s like if the defense lawyer on the Zimmerman case wrote a book where a bullied, hated, tragically misunderstood guardian of the peace fought “hoodielums”.

        4. matlun
          matlun July 18, 2013 at 11:17 am |

          Really? The lead character fights “buggers” and nobody ever saw the homophobia coming?

          Interesting association. They are insect-like aliens, and I have always simply seen it as derived from “bugs”. Still: Is it a slip/choice of words that gives a glimpse of Card’s mind?

          It feels as somewhat of a reach to me, but still an interesting idea and something I had not noted before.

          (It could be noted that later in the book series “buggers” is established to be an explicitly pejorative term for the aliens. Which gives another point of similarity with the homophobic slur)

        5. chava
          chava July 18, 2013 at 11:39 am |

          erm, it’s been a long time, but aren’t they called “buggers” because they are, literally, insects?

        6. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune July 18, 2013 at 11:48 am |

          erm, it’s been a long time, but aren’t they called “buggers” because they are, literally, insects?

          Yes, but seriously, coming from a renowned homophobe, who’s on the board of one of the most notorious and explicitly homophobic organisations out there, is no one going to even acknowledge the possibility of a double meaning? Authors engage in wordplay all the time. To further my analogy above, should the book by Zimmerman’s lawyer make the case that the enemies of the noble misunderstood guardian are called “hoodielums” because it’s a play on the word “hoodlum”, would anyone buy that it was just a total coincidence? If not, then why refuse to side-eye Card, who pulled pretty much exactly the same trick, just because the order of events (outing as personally Ist vs creating Ist work) is reversed?

          (Not accusing you personally, ftr.)

        7. Fat Steve
          Fat Steve July 18, 2013 at 11:53 am |

          But not everybody has experienced finding out that a great artist whose work you admire (or are expected to admire) hates people like oneself and, sometimes, would be happy to see them dead. Do you seriously need to ask why that detracts from the quality of the work? As if the work is entirely separate from its creator, and the creator’s worldviews never have any influence on the content of the work itself? A book is not a sweater, for God’s sake. I guess you’re fortunate. Do you have any idea whatsoever how often I discover that a well-known artist hates Jews? Or gay people? Or, more commonly all the time, trans people? Just today, I learned that a well-known editor and reviewer had recently said some truly awful things about trans people (the whole nondisclosure = rape business). I’m not supposed to look at anything this person writes with a jaundiced eye from now on? I’m supposed to be able to judge someone like Ezra Pound objectively? If it turns out to be true that Vliet Tiptree, of radfem hub fame, is really one of the two sisters who collectively constitute a famous mystery writer, I’m supposed to ignore that? And from everything I’ve read, it’s ludicrous to suggest that Orson Scott Card’s views don’t permeate his work. (Even absent express homophobia.)

          DIsclosure: I am not a science fiction fan, (one might call me a literature snob,) in fact, I was irate for about a month that a question about a science fiction was in the ‘Arts and Literature’ section. So this is a reaction to Donna’s comment as I have no knowledge of Card’s work.

          I had a long conversation with one of my literature professors who was a Holocaust Survivor, (this is him http://www.bard.edu/academics/faculty/faculty.php?action=details&id=757 ) about this very topic of whether you can separate writers from their personal beliefs/acts. We started with discussing RImbaud who was an alcoholic misogynist, but moved on to Celine, who was an actual Nazi. He took the opposite approach from Donna, believing it was possible to compartmentalize and that you should judge a piece of literature on it’s own merits (obviously I was taking the opposite point of view, but we agreed to diagree.) But on reflection, I suppose I’m guilty of that to a lesser extent, in the way that my first car was a VW bug, and my college car was a Ford Escort and I didn’t think about the company’s past owners and their Nazism.

        8. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune July 18, 2013 at 12:47 pm |

          I was irate for about a month that a question about a science fiction was in the ‘Arts and Literature’ section

          Oh no. I hope you made a full recovery and weren’t permanently traumatised by the accidental conflation of science fiction with Dead White Guy fiction.

        9. chava
          chava July 18, 2013 at 3:07 pm |

          I’d have to go back and read it again, Mac, but it seems a little bit of a stretch? Unless there are other traits associated with the bugs that would support that sort of wordplay or allegory…not saying it isn’t there, but the presence of the name itself isn’t convincing me.

          also, “buggers” as a noun doesn’t really seem to work in that sense. if I say, “nasty little buggers,” that’s a whole different meaning that “X buggered Y,” or “X is a buggerer,” no? I think the pejorative sense of the first meaning probably came from the second, but still.

        10. chava
          chava July 18, 2013 at 3:11 pm |

          also, just to be clear–there is certainly homophobia (generally via how he treats homosocial spaces, etc) in Card’s work! just not sure that’s where I’d point to first.

        11. Fat Steve
          Fat Steve July 18, 2013 at 3:16 pm |

          Oh no. I hope you made a full recovery and weren’t permanently traumatised by the accidental conflation of science fiction with Dead White Guy fiction.

          Had no problem when another ex-professor of mine Chinua Achebe turned up in the same section (I left ourt that this was in a Trivial Pursuit game.)

          Also…I just checked wikipedia…Robert Heinlein (the subject of the question) seems very much like a dead white guy.

          Unless you’re not using the term ‘Dead White Guy fiction’ written by dead white guys, and to mean fiction about dead white guys. Regarding fiction about dead white guys, well, maybe some of those dead white guys deserved it.

        12. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune July 18, 2013 at 3:25 pm |

          Unless you’re not using the term ‘Dead White Guy fiction’ written by dead white guys, and to mean fiction about dead white guys.

          It’s a common joke in some places to refer to Real Literature(TM) as Dead White Guy fiction. Sorry, I should have been less colloquial.

        13. Fat Steve
          Fat Steve July 19, 2013 at 12:24 pm |

          It’s a common joke in some places to refer to Real Literature(TM) as Dead White Guy fiction. Sorry, I should have been less colloquial.

          LOL, Mac you know I’m too old to know all the trendy young phrases (remember how I didn’t know that ‘child-free’ was a thing.) ;)

    3. karak
      karak July 18, 2013 at 4:24 am |

      I’m not gay, but I remember being off-put at several points at the way he talks about women/girls, some of my favorite lines being that girls are terrible leaders and soldiers because theres “too many years of evolution working against them” to the fact that there are no female squad leaders, and very few toon leaders. The first person to crack under the stress of the the final conflict was Petra; the only female really even mentioned as attending Battle School.

      I was twelve and there was nothing so bitter as being told that I would never be the hero of a story; I was, at best, a side character that might help or inspire him as he fulfilled his destiny.

      1. chava
        chava July 18, 2013 at 11:40 am |

        yeah, that’s why I don’t tend to read Asimov.

        1. Bruce from Missouri
          Bruce from Missouri July 19, 2013 at 2:27 am |

          Asimov? Really? Especially for his generation, I thought he was fairly forward thinking. Susan Calvin was the hero of many of the “I Robot” stories, and Bayta Darrell was the hero of “The Mule” in the foundation trilogy. He had a number of female heroes.

          Now, you could argue that he wasn’t particularly good at writing female characters (and he would be the first to admit that), but that’s a different question.

        2. Barnacle Strumpet
          Barnacle Strumpet July 19, 2013 at 5:46 am |

          Asimov’s women were so far from being well-rounded characters that they are simply not believable

          Can’t you say this about all of Asimov’s characters though? He is not a character writer/developer. None of his characters, male or female, stick out in his mind, and I can only remember the names of two, despite having read a good amount of his books. By contrast I could probably name a hundred of Stephen King’s characters, and tell you about them. That’s because King’s characters can carry a story, where Asimov’s characters are weak constructions that have to be carried by the story.

          He does not write memorable, fleshed characters that feel particularly real. And ironically, in all his books, his non-humans are more memorable than his humans.

          The bottom-pinching is creepy though. Didn’t know about that!

        3. Past my expiration date
          Past my expiration date July 19, 2013 at 9:15 am |

          Yes, I didn’t like Asimov and Heinlein, and that was at an age when my idea of feminism was pretty much “Girls are too as good as boys.” And Roger Zelazny. And (I’ll think of more). But I thought I ought to like them, because the boys liked them.

        4. Computer Soldier Porygon
          Computer Soldier Porygon July 20, 2013 at 6:45 pm |

          Asimov? Really? Especially for his generation, I thought he was fairly forward thinking. Susan Calvin was the hero of many of the “I Robot” stories, and Bayta Darrell was the hero of “The Mule” in the foundation trilogy. He had a number of female heroes.

          Now, you could argue that he wasn’t particularly good at writing female characters (and he would be the first to admit that), but that’s a different question.

          I really did enjoy all the Foundation books and I think he got better over time, but I was incredibly turned off by the… shit, I don’t remember exactly, it’s been too long. The guy’s wife who was tricked so easily by being given the pretty necklace or whatever? And he basically said, ‘lol women, materialistic and stupid’

  3. Thomas MacAulay Millar
    Thomas MacAulay Millar July 17, 2013 at 6:19 pm |

    I like Scalzi, but this is “Solomonic” in just the ways that trying to be “Solomonic” is usually bullshit. I could write more, but I’ll confine myself to this: (1) What A4 said, I agree with; and (2) this reeks of the kind of social network backscratching that leads otherwise sensible people to support Polanski and Gibson.

    1. Willemina
      Willemina July 18, 2013 at 1:48 am |

      I freaked out for a second and did a 30 minute crash search on William Gibson to figure out what was wrong and if I could still love Neuromancer. You meant Mel didn’t you…. >.<

      1. Radiant Sophia
        Radiant Sophia July 18, 2013 at 1:54 am |

        Ditto.

        1. Thomas MacAulay Millar
          Thomas MacAulay Millar July 18, 2013 at 12:23 pm |

          Sorry. I meant Mel.

    2. Fat Steve
      Fat Steve July 19, 2013 at 2:49 am |

      (1) What A4 said, I agree with; and (2) this reeks of the kind of social network backscratching that leads otherwise sensible people to support Polanski and Gibson.

      Sorry. I meant Mel.

      Oh thank God, there’s no way I would give up my Les Paul or my ES 335.

  4. moorepark
    moorepark July 17, 2013 at 6:50 pm |

    Sigh, I don’t know why people who bring products to market don’t have the foresight to understand that they will be attacked for any political opinion they express. Its so much easier to move product when you just keep your mouth shut.

  5. Irrelevant feminist from the East
    Irrelevant feminist from the East July 17, 2013 at 6:51 pm |

    I am happy to say that I’m not conflicted about this at all, because Ender’s Game is, IMHO, utter crap anyway -clumsily written, juvenile, pro-militaristic, the protagonist is a piece of shit etc etc etc. (And this is coming from a chick who’s got 3 shelves full of SF books.) I’m glad this Scalzi dude can be so chill about Card, though. I mean, wouldn’t it be great if we could all be straight dudes, so we could be chill about stuff like this, especially because it doesn’t affect us? Yeah, his article is made of non-committal cowardliness.

    My take on art made by people who are full-blown assholes (as in, they actively hurt other people, which is the case with Card or Roman Polanski) is firmly in the camp of “boycott”. As long as they’re alive and me buying their stuff can finance their privilege in society and help them hurt more people, I’m not buying their stuff; moreover, I’m gonna try to discourage other people from buying their stuff. The “art is art and can come from any brain” thing is not relevant for me unless the artist is well dead and cannot benefit from my interest in their work anymore.

    1. Ens
      Ens July 17, 2013 at 8:32 pm |

      I hate to nitpick, but I don’t think “juvenile” is necessarily a flaw in a book, and certainly not one that should prevent a film adaptation.

      Media aimed at adolescents is a valuable thing too.

      I think it was about 15 years ago when I read it and I was an adolescent boy at the time, target demographic, so I could totally have missed stuff and I don’t really intend to re-read it. But my memories are quite positive and my takeaway was about taking the time to understand the other guy’s perspective before you do something fucked up like kept happening in the books (the Buggers to Earth, Earth to the buggers, at a smaller scale bullies to Ender and Ender to the bullies).

      Orson Scott Card’s work in general, though, has always exhibited a pattern where it kind of falls apart the longer it goes. Plus in his newer work I see much more hyper-pro-militarism and nonsense than in his old before I just stopped, and I don’t think I was just growing conscious to it, I think it really did get much worse.

      1. Ens
        Ens July 17, 2013 at 8:34 pm |

        To be clear, I will not be seeing this movie unless I can prove to myself that there isn’t a chain of money that goes to some of Card’s most heinous causes. I won’t directly support that. If I can catch it just running on TV, I’ll probably watch it for nostalgia. The trailers haven’t impressed me though.

      2. Tony
        Tony July 17, 2013 at 9:58 pm |

        I saw it from the beginning, Ens. And while yes, all art is to some extent subjective and is meaning becomes what recipients make of it, I would suggest that the subsequent development of Card’s career and work indicate that Feminist from the East and I were onto something in our dislike of the original book.

        SPOILERS

        I don’t think the book really presented the other side’s perspective at all. The other side is never really personified, we never really see things from their perspective. We only see things from the protagonist’s perspective. In the end what struck me was the genius and the enormity of the child soldier’s victory (I’m sorry if I spoiled that for you). In a victory of such magnitude there’s always going to be some guilt. But at the end of the day it’s just more wallowing in one’s own narcissism, to say that although one has committed genocide, one is still the good protagonist worthy of the audience’s identification because he feels guilty about it. It’s the Edward Snowden story where Snowden never defects, but instead helps the government build a machine that tracks the movements and thoughts of everyone on earth. Fuck that. The book is fascist bullshit, which is why it kept me up all night after I finished it feeling like utter crap.

        1. matlun
          matlun July 18, 2013 at 4:52 am |

          MORE SPOILERS

          The other side is never really personified, we never really see things from their perspective

          I disagree. We do get the Hive Queen’s perspective later, and it is for example revealed that she originally did not understand the moral impact of killing individual humans, since she thought humanity was a hive organism like herself. In the end it is shown that the root of the conflict seemed to really be about a lack of communication and understanding. I guess I am mostly with Ens on this.

        2. Tony
          Tony July 18, 2013 at 5:36 pm |

          We (very briefly) get the communication of the Queen to Ender, but that’s not seeing from the Formics’s perspective, that’s seeing from Ender’s perspective. He’s the one who received the communication. And the nature of the communication just makes it worse, not better, because here Card is saying that the genocide was justified even though it was all based on a mis-communication.

          The book is such obvious glorification of the worst sort of violence to me that it surprises me how anyone could miss it.

        3. Shay'a'chern
          Shay'a'chern July 23, 2013 at 11:49 am |

          This is a very interesting critique of Ender’s Game that probes the way the entire narrative is constructed to make certain the Ender isn’t culpable for murder and genocide.

          http://www4.ncsu.edu/~tenshi/Killer_000.htm

      3. Irrelevant feminist from the East
        Irrelevant feminist from the East July 17, 2013 at 10:00 pm |

        Hmm, I see now that juvenile wasn’t the best word to use. I meant it as immature, dumb, not “intended for a young audience”. Incidentally, there are stories out there that are intended for very young children yet manage not to be dumb (I remember finding in one of Tove Jansson’s Moomintroll books one of the most comforting approaches to death in any fiction work I’ve read, for example.) I’m not contemptuous of writing aimed at young audiences.

        Ender is a terrifying monster (but Card keeps telling he’s not a bad guy inside, and aw, he’s being bullied, guess the bullies deserve death then) and the perspective of the “buggers” (nice one, Card) is never considered, except at the end, when it’s used to highlight Ender’s character: he killed all of these creatures without knowing, but now he’s kind of sorry. It’s an ode to the worst stereotypes of toxic, violent, entitled masculinity, and if that’s what teenage boys are encouraged to read, no wonder we still need feminism. Not to mention, the quality of Card’s writing is somewhere above “parables pamphlet printed with Comic Sans by the church in your grandma’s village” and below “Mills&Boon romance novel, but not one of the better ones that you can masturbate to.”

        I’m gonna stop now ’cause I’m starting to veer off-topic, but seriously, there are a lot of problematic SF authors, but some of them can actually write, which makes this guy Card even more infuriating because he’s not even any good.

        1. karak
          karak July 18, 2013 at 4:35 am |

          We’re very different people, because the lesson I took away from the book was despising Ender; I fully believe he was absolutely right to kill every last member of the alien species that attacked Earth twice and nearly destroyed the human species. I was more annoyed he felt so bad about it–wasn’t his fault he was used as a weapon and lied to and manipulated; any more than I blame a child soldier in a modern-day nation.

          And I’m a little taken aback at your description of Ender–he’s a prodigy, sure, but he’s six the first time he accidentally kills another kid. Simply because he’s mentally capable of understanding battle technique doesn’t mean he’s emotionally or morally capable of using that knowledge properly; in the same way I knew how to fire a gun when I was six but that didn’t mean I should be handed a gun and sent to school and told to deal with my problems myself.

          Ender’s brain is dangerous, and instead of trying to teach him to responsibly manage it they deliberately conceal the consequences of his actions from him.

          At the end of the book, he has a breakdown, starts bleeding from the nose and blacking out, has such anxiety that he starts biting his hands bloody in his sleep, and is pretty clearly depressed and possible suicidal.

        2. Barnacle Strumpet
          Barnacle Strumpet July 18, 2013 at 5:49 am |

          Wow. I didn’t even like Ender’s Game, but I still think it was shitty to take a dump on romance novels and church publishing. There’s no misogyny in putting down the only genre specifically targeted toward women as worse than self-published pamphlets and a novel you describe as “a clumsily written piece of shit”, right?

          Bonus points for implying their only worth is as fap fodder.

        3. Irrelevant feminist from the East
          Irrelevant feminist from the East July 18, 2013 at 10:46 am |

          Sigh. Look, Ender is not a real person. He was created by Card from scratch. It’s not an argument in favour of the book to look at stuff within the story as if they were facts- “oh, but he’s sorry! he’s depressed!” He’s not sorry. He doesn’t exist. Card wants us to justify his actions, that’s all. This whole “innocent killer” concept is very, very dangerous, and very telling of the writer’s thinking.

          @Barnacle Strumpet: I said the romance novels, even the weaker ones, were better than Ender! But honestly, while I understand what you’re saying about female-targeted genres being devalued, I would say that there’s much to be discussed about the quality of genres aimed at women, and the misogyny is not in noticing when the quality is low but in the cultural mechanisms that try to keep women’s writing and women’s stories marginalised and lacking proper support and development. The misogyny is also in the fact that the similarly low quality of a lot of male-targeted stuff such as Ender’s Game is almost never talked about. Sticking our heads in the sand and pretending none of this is happening isn’t helpful. Also,what’s wrong with acknowledging that sexy stories are intended for masturbating? Of course, in the case of Mills&Boon fap fodder novels (the Blaze collection, if I remember well), it’s only for straight, monogamous ladies who like a very specific type of rugged manly man. I was pleasantly surprised to notice that they frequently promoted the use of condoms, though.

        4. Barnacle Strumpet
          Barnacle Strumpet July 18, 2013 at 12:12 pm |

          My bad, I misread that. I thought you were ordering it as self-pubbed church pamphlets > Ender’s Game > Mills & Boon when it was in fact Mills&Boon > Ender’s Game > church pamphlets, if I’m reading it correctly now.

          (Though I would say it should be Mills&Boon > church pamphlet’s > Ender’s Game :P)

          I think it’s misogynistic when people dismiss the entire genre of romances (or even steamy M&B romances) as low-quality. Such dismissals are usually based on the content itself (eww bodice rippers) and not on the quality of writing (plot, character development, etc). If people want to tear apart Where the Heart Leads of any other individual romance novel, I have no problem, but no entire genre gets ragged on as much as romance.

          I guess I see a problem in using the genre in a way that seems to be insulting Ender’s Game (“It’s even worse than a romance novel”). I think I’m reading more into it than is there, and I don’t think you intended it that way, but it says something about people’s attitudes towards romance that you can’t really sub much else in there and have it work as a way of implying Ender’s Game’s lack of quality. Even saying something like “below a Louis L’amour western” doesn’t work because even Westerns don’t get universally sneered at the way Romances do.

          As for masturbation…I don’t have a problem with the author’s intention re: that, but the way you said it seems to imply that the romances you can’t masturbate to are inferior to ones you can masturbate to (“not one of the better ones you can masturbate to”).

          Even that aside, it’s not their sole value. I’m asexual, so fappability is not a draw for me, and I can still enjoy romances, because even the steamiest have a story.

        5. Kittehserf
          Kittehserf July 19, 2013 at 3:35 am |

          (I remember finding in one of Tove Jansson’s Moomintroll books one of the most comforting approaches to death in any fiction work I’ve read, for example.)

          OT curiosity: was that the death of the squirrel in Moominland Midwinter?

  6. Barnacle Strumpet
    Barnacle Strumpet July 17, 2013 at 7:07 pm |

    Eh, I liked the post, but then I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately (reconciling someone’s art/creations, which may be excellent, with their personal shittiness).

    There are some cases, like with Card, where they are very politically active at pushing their agenda, and where one has to consider the consequence that even reading/watching the creator’s work has, but most authors, while they may mouth off on twitter or their blogs, aren’t going around fundraising and championing evil. With most authors being politically-inconsequential, I can’t say I’m offended by what Scalzi said.

  7. birdie
    birdie July 17, 2013 at 8:13 pm |

    With respect to casual interest, yeah OK. But, unfortunately, with pretty well any human interest, avoiding fuckwits’ work means excluding huge chunks of the subject from one’s study regimen. One cannot study philosophy without reading Nietzsche, after all. If I had boycotted the work of every racist, misogynist, classist scumbag in my field, I would never have learned anything.

    1. macavitykitsune
      macavitykitsune July 17, 2013 at 8:24 pm |

      One cannot study philosophy without reading Nietzsche, after all.

      LOL your ethnocentrism.

      1. Barnacle Strumpet
        Barnacle Strumpet July 17, 2013 at 8:28 pm |

        …It’s now ethnocentric to have a well-known philosopher you felt obligated to study despite finding some of their views problematic?

        Well call me an ethnocentric then. Thanks a lot, Kant.

        1. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune July 17, 2013 at 8:49 pm |

          …It’s now ethnocentric to have a well-known philosopher you felt obligated to study despite finding some of their views problematic?

          It’s ethnocentric to suggest that the study of Nietzsche is integral to philosophy, and by extension, that anyone who claims to study philosophy must study (or have studied) Nietzsche (or any other Western philosopher for that matter). I can think of several extremely well-respected Hindu philosophers off the top of my head who probably don’t know him from an apple.

        2. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune July 17, 2013 at 8:51 pm |

          Unless, of course, you’re one of the faction that claims that only non-religious people can be philosophers. Or that studying philosophy only occurs in a formal academic context. In which case I’ll show myself out.

        3. Barnacle Strumpet
          Barnacle Strumpet July 17, 2013 at 9:18 pm |

          It’s ethnocentric to suggest that the study of Nietzsche is integral to philosophy, and by extension, that anyone who claims to study philosophy must study (or have studied) Nietzsche (or any other Western philosopher for that matter)

          Gonna have to disagree. I don’t see anything wrong with thinking it’s important for philosophers to study a certain philosopher. I wouldn’t champion any one in particular unless we were getting down to specifics (i.e if you’re interested in studying animal ethics I think it’s important to read Kant’s relevant writing).

          For that matter, if someone told me that they couldn’t study philosophy without studying Confucius (to name one eastern philosopher that everyone has heard of) I wouldn’t label them as ethnocentric.

          I see nothing wrong with people thinking studying X person’s writing is integral to the study of philosophy.

        4. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune July 17, 2013 at 9:47 pm |

          Important to being a student of philosophy =/= essential to call oneself a student of philosophy.

    2. A4
      A4 July 17, 2013 at 10:51 pm |

      One cannot study philosophy without reading Nietzsche, after all.

      Wut. This isn’t just ethnocentric, it also it just false.

      Watch me study philosophy right now without reading Nietzche:

      I wonder how one can know something is true. Does a standard for truth need to work for everyone to be valid, or should I expect that everyone’s standards for truth will be different?

      I bet I just blew your mind.

      1. chava
        chava July 18, 2013 at 11:37 am |

        Studying Nietzche is integral to understanding Western philosophy.

        There. Fixed that for you.

        Although, at this point I would argue he’s one of the guys you Have to Read, because at least according to my friends in SE Asian studies, the handling of the Western philosophers post-cultural revolution in China (and in a different way, India) has been both really interesting, really important, and hard to get away from at this point.

        1. A4
          A4 July 18, 2013 at 2:31 pm |

          What is “Western philosophy”?

        2. chava
          chava July 18, 2013 at 2:59 pm |

          honey, if you want to ask me what I think about the problematic issues in defining “philosophy” or “western philosophy,” just ask.

          what I meant was a fairly straightforward historiographic definition, fwiw. if you’re interested in the development of philosophy in western european thought, say, 800 or 900 to 1950, you can’t really do that without mr. syphilis.

        3. Alexandra
          Alexandra July 18, 2013 at 6:55 pm |

          I agree, Chava. I had a snarky response written up which I didn’t post, but the non-snarky answer is that Nietzsche is so fundamental that many of the arguments being made on this thread employ ways of thinking that you can trace one way or another back to – ahem – Mr. Syphilis. I mean, reading Nietzsche was one of the most alienating experiences in the study of philosophy I ever had as a woman (Aristotle’s Politics would top the list), but Nietzsche began a lot of conversations which feminists have continued about morality, the nature of truth, etc that I can’t see how you can undertake to study any version of “Western Philosophy” without encountering him in some form or another.

          He’s got to make any “top 10″ list, up there with the indisputable Plato, Aristotle, and Kant. I’ll leave it to the real experts to hash out the other names and their positions on the list.

        4. A4
          A4 July 19, 2013 at 12:10 am |

          Don’t call me honey. I asked you exactly what I wanted to ask. You get to choose your words, not mine.

        5. chava
          chava July 19, 2013 at 12:44 am |

          if you don’t want a condescending answer, don’t ask a condescending question, A4.

          FWIW, I answered you in brief, anyway, but no, I wasn’t going to rise to a Socratic fishing expedition.

      2. Miranda
        Miranda July 18, 2013 at 7:22 pm |

        Nietzsche began a lot of conversations which feminists have continued about morality, the nature of truth,

        To be fair, my good friend in a prominent phil department informs me that Nietzsche actually ripped a lot of his stuff off Schopenhauer and they were both, in turn, ripping a lot of stuff from the pre-Socratics and other classical philosophers. I agree that Nietzsche is important historically, but my understanding, at least from what those in hist of phil have told me, is that the uniqueness of Nietzsche’s positions is overstated, and his popularity might have something to do with his political circumstances as well.

        I would not be surprised if buried in some non-Western philosopher’s tomes–the kind that most respected Anglophone academies would never in a million years dream of putting on a syllabus, because diversity means reading a French dude in addition to Germans, Brits, and Americans–were Nietzsche’s same ideas.

        Sorry if this is a derail. I totes agree that one who wants to enter the field of western philosophy could not possibly excise every problematic text ever and should probably read Nietzsche, for historical reasons if nothing else. I always find it interesting that people feel really, really icky reading -ist philosophers and artists, but have no problem with the fact that particle physics was basically run by a bunch of Nazis at one point, to say nothing of the fields of anthropology and biology. I guess I see how one might suppose it’s easier for an -ist viewpoint to enter into a philosophical tract than into an experiment on neutrons. On the other hand, we see time and time again how -ist nonsense infects (sometimes depressingly not pop) evo psyche.

        /derail

        1. Alexandra
          Alexandra July 18, 2013 at 8:02 pm |

          Given that philosophy often claims to have a particular … authority? relevance? to questions of right action and morality, I think it’s particularly troubling that so many philosophers were total assholes in their personal lives (Rousseau, I’m looking at you), and no matter how many people tell me Heidegger is great, I have absolutely no desire or intention to read him.

          I think there is a greater divide between the particle physics of a Nazi scientist and the political, ethical or metaphysical philosophy of a Nazi. My brother, bless him, raves about Schmidt and his criticism of liberalism, but much though I dislike classical liberalism I have relatively little interest in reading the critique of an avowed fascist and Nazi, because with Schmidt, and I believe with Heidegger, I don’t really see how one can separate their Nazism neatly from their philosophy.

          As for Nietzsche and Schopenhauer – I’ve only read Nietzsche, and not Schopenhauer, so I can’t say anything specific about this. Nietzsche certainly was influenced by Eastern thought (one of his most famous works, after all, has as its main character Zarathustra/Zoroaster). “Eastern” thought has of course perpetually influenced Western philosophy, and probably vice versa though I’m ignorant about the Eastern classics. What it would mean for the “same ideas” to be in another work, though, is more difficult. Nietzsche is one of the most… experiential… philosophers I’ve ever read. He’s impossible to summarize, in much the same way that Plato is impossible to summarize, because much of what he intends for you to get out of his work is impossible unless you read it in full, and in his own words (or as close to his own words as are possible given the nature of translation).

          The great virtues of Nietzsche are his readability, his wit, his love of beauty, his refusal to give in to despair, and his refusal to give in to German jargon. I love Kant despite the jargon, but Hegel is (to me at least) unbearable, and reading Heidegger is beyond painful.

          This is also a total derail, so maybe we should take this to Spillover?

        2. moviemaedchen
          moviemaedchen July 18, 2013 at 8:29 pm |

          I get what you mean about it coming up much more with artists/writers. But yeah, beyond deliberately rigging an experiment there’s limited means for someone’s political philosophy to meaningfully influence a derivation of the laws of physics. Whereas philosophy and the arts deal much more directly with the subjective realm. Besides, one can’t ignore information about basic physical laws in doing science the way one can ignore particular works when studying literature, so I’d wager that has something to do with it.

          However, in fields like biology, psych, anthropology, etc. – definitely more room for icky influence there, I totally agree. OMG the racism in anthropology.

  8. snorkellingfish
    snorkellingfish July 18, 2013 at 12:15 am |

    I do love how freedom of speech comes up whenever gay people express unhappiness at the homophobia thrown our way, but is ignored when we’re silenced by fear of a homophobic response (and same for members of other marginalised groups). It’s almost as though freedom of speech is only seen as important when it protects the most privileged in society and can only be objected to when it causes harm to the most privileged in society.

    And I guess I’m among those who were glad that Scalzi pointed out that boycotting someone is also an act of freedom of speech, but frustrated at how he minimised the impact of homophobia. It was these two paragraphs in particular that bothered me:

    If your conscience tells you to boycott or avoid the film because of Card’s positions on the rights of gays and lesbians, then, you know, do it. Card is entitled to speak his mind on gays and lesbians and same-sex marriage. You are equally entitled, on the basis of that speech and his political efforts, to decide not to support him or a film based on his work. That’s entirely fair.

    On a related topic, in the future, if Old Man’s War is made into a film, if your conscience tells you to boycott or avoid the film because of my (largely opposing to Card’s) positions on the rights of gays and lesbians, then do that. I am entitled to speak my mind on gays and lesbians and same-sex marriage. You are equally entitled, on the basis of that speech and my political efforts, to decide not to support me or a films based on my work. That is also entirely fair.

    I don’t like that it minimises Card’s homophobia to a political position when he’s a member of an organisation that wants us dead. I don’t like that it equates boycotting someone for their extreme homophobia to boycotting someone for supporting marriage equality. I don’t like that gays and lesbians are positioned as an issue Card “speaks his mind on” rather than, you know, people. I don’t think it’s “entirely fair” when people hate me and try to limit my rights – and I don’t think that the burden should be on us to boycott rather than on people like Card to stop hating on us.

    Though, honestly, my main worry is how to justify to my family that I don’t want to pay to see this movie – I feel like I’ll come across as oversensitive for caring so much about the views of the guy who wrote the book the movie was based on. I just hope that I can explain myself in a way that doesn’t cause my family to worry about how “sensitive” I am to homophobia.

    1. oldscrumby
      oldscrumby July 18, 2013 at 12:27 am |

      You can use my excuse!

      “I have absolutely no faith in Hollywood’s ability to put this story to film so I’m not motivated to see it in theaters.”

      The perk of being a scifi fan is so many years of bad film adaptions have made “don’t think they’ll do it justice” an almost unimpeachable stance.

    2. The Last Selina
      The Last Selina July 18, 2013 at 1:35 pm |

      Yes, I agree and I think you make an excellent point. The opposing viewpoints are not equal, one side is trying to deny people their civil rights and the other wants every person to have all the same rights. It is one thing to hate gays and lesbians and same-sex marriage (using Scalzi’s language) but it is quite another to deny people their rights or advocate for the denial of their rights. If what they were saying was gays are evil and same-sex marriage is wrong, no matter how hideous that is, I would agree that their right to say it is protected under free speech. It is a political viewpoint I don’t agree with but if you want to say it, fine. Even when you advocate against people having rights, that is protected under free speech as well. But let’s not pretend that that viewpoint is equal to the opposing viewpoint. One side wants a boot off their neck and the other side wants their boot on your neck. Not the same at all.

      When there is action taken to try and keep people from actually having a same-sex marriage, that is even worse. If you hate gays and same-sex marriage, fine, don’t engage in any of those same sex activities, including the marriage you think is so horrible. But you can’t take the right away from other people to do so. Removing rights from people is different than just disagreeing with them.

  9. karak
    karak July 18, 2013 at 4:39 am |

    I don’t want to see this movie because it can’t do justice to the story in my head, and because Card is an asshat and I don’t want the infestistesimal amount of my movie ticket going into his pocket.

    But I love the shit out of Ender’s Game, it’s right on my shelf next to Starship Troopers, because goddamn those books are problematic and the authors are worse and I love them both.

    1. Alexandra
      Alexandra July 18, 2013 at 12:39 pm |

      Yes, agreed. Card’s books meant the world to me when I was growing up, in particular Speaker for the Dead which is a flawed work but is also very beautiful. Because I came from a miserably unhappy family that didn’t fit the usual stereotypes for unhappy families, seeing stories about unhappy, brilliant families was important to me, and I also found the Sci-Fi treatment of biology really, really interesting.

      We understate the feeling of loss one can have when an author later goes on to join the forces of bigotry when we immediately dismiss the work of bigoted authors as inherently being badly written, or not worth the read in the first place, and fans of those authors as being indiscriminate and undiscerning.

      1. macavitykitsune
        macavitykitsune July 18, 2013 at 12:50 pm |

        dismiss the work of bigoted authors as inherently being badly written, or not worth the read in the first place

        Yes. There’s a world of difference between “this story has subtext/supertext/context that makes me incredibly uncomfortable, upset, angry, disappointed etc” and “this is a poorly written work”.

  10. chava
    chava July 18, 2013 at 11:34 am |

    Lots of authors are problematic. I don’t boycott studying medieval literature because many of them were raping, misogynistic shits. Or Heidegger because he was a Nazi, or Arendt for forgiving him, or Paul de Man for writing for Hitler Youth.

    What we’re talking about (I hope!) is more or less directly financially supporting Card’s unethical causes via royalties from the film. So, with that in mind, I’ll watch it, but on Netflix when it comes out.

    Card’s work is flawed, but it’s also very appealing, and if nothing else, it’s worse studying and reading it to understand *why.*

    1. macavitykitsune
      macavitykitsune July 18, 2013 at 11:52 am |

      What we’re talking about (I hope!) is more or less directly financially supporting Card’s unethical causes via royalties from the film. So, with that in mind, I’ll watch it, but on Netflix when it comes out.

      Yeah, that’s definitely what I’m talking about. I have no problem with exposure to works by people who are assholes who have no way of directly profiting from said exposure (either because they’re dead, or because I accessed their works in a way that doesn’t give them any money). Though obviously I try to limit it as much as I can because of the ugh factor.

      Oh, and this seems a good place for a PSA for anyone who doesn’t know (doubtful in this crowd, but there’s always a chance): if you’re boycotting Card, don’t read him through libraries!!!! Libraries purchase books based on popularity of past sales, and some even have arrangements with authors to pay them royalties based on circulation! Your best bet is borrowing from friends or browsing second-hand stores. Thanks ^__^

      1. Jamie
        Jamie July 19, 2013 at 3:59 pm |

        *blink* I did not know that! I appreciate the info, Mac!

      2. Clio
        Clio July 21, 2013 at 12:49 am |

        Although some countries in Europe, as well as Canada, do pay royalties to authors based on book circulation in libraries, that’s not the case in the US. Libraries in the US do not, nor (to the best of my knowledge) have they ever paid royalties to authors.

        Purchases also aren’t made on “past sales;” rather, items are selected based primarily on based on the number of times that item circulated at that specific library or library system, subjects that are topical, in the news, or of interest to that particular location, and the reading lists and needs of their local school districts.

        A PSA from your local librarian. :-)

        1. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune July 22, 2013 at 8:41 pm |

          Although some countries in Europe, as well as Canada, do pay royalties to authors based on book circulation in libraries, that’s not the case in the US.

          Oh, I didn’t know that. I’ve only ever lived in India and Canada, both of which (for public libraries anyway) pay some royalties to authors iirc, if the book is still in copyright. (Or maybe only Indian unis pay royalties. I’m not very sure.)

  11. Fat Steve
    Fat Steve July 18, 2013 at 12:13 pm |

    Does it count as boycotting if you never planned on seeing the film in the first place, never heard of the book and were completely unaware of it’s existence and/or you were unaware there was a movie adaptation?

    If so, I’m part of the boycott.

    1. Alexandra
      Alexandra July 18, 2013 at 12:42 pm |

      Well, since you’ve already told us how shocked! and horrified! you were that science fiction could ever be considered art and/or literature, I am unsurprised that you were so ignorant.

      1. Donna L
        Donna L July 18, 2013 at 2:15 pm |

        I’m not sure I’d agree that being thankfully unaware of Orson Scott Card’s existence, and never having heard of Ender’s Game, make someone “ignorant.” I had never heard of either until a year or so ago when I read something about Card’s homophobia. I certainly don’t consider myself ignorant just because I stopped regularly reading science fiction and fantasy by the late 1970’s (not counting whatever Margaret Atwood writes that fits into that general category), and don’t usually keep up with it.

      2. Kittehserf
        Kittehserf July 19, 2013 at 3:46 am |

        Seconding what Donna said, Alexandra. Not being interested in a particular writer or genre =/= ignorant. I fit in the “lost interest in sf years ago” category too, and had never heard of Card or his work until a couple of weeks ago.

        1. Fat Steve
          Fat Steve July 19, 2013 at 4:19 am |

          Thank you both for coming to my defense, but I’m happy to interpret her comment as meaning I am ignorant of his oeuvre, not just a general ignoramus.

      3. Willemina
        Willemina July 19, 2013 at 4:20 am |

        No, not knowing about Card or Ender’s Game doesn’t make you ignorant. Dismissing an entire genre out of hand and getting the vapors when it’s even suggested that it may constitute Art or Literature, then reveling in knowing nothing about a work contained in said genre does.

        While we’re having fun with words, I’ll elaborate on my short “No.” No Steve, you’re not boycotting the movie. You made it clear you hadn’t heard of any of this before recently, you were never going to see the movie, and well, that’s it. A boycott requires the exercise of will. I may want to do something, I may need to go somewhere, but I won’t. It may hurt me, but if the movement succeeds it will hurt the target so much more.

        You can show solidarity, you can be supportive, but declaring that your zero dollars you were going to spend on the film that you’re now pulling back in some way materially impacts Card and his agenda is inane.

        1. Fat Steve
          Fat Steve July 19, 2013 at 4:25 am |

          You can show solidarity, you can be supportive, but declaring that your zero dollars you were going to spend on the film that you’re now pulling back in some way materially impacts Card and his agenda is inane.

          Similarly, you are free to find inane comments completely worthless, but I figure if the comment doesn’t offend or belittle anyone, (full disclosure: my inane comments have offended people in the past,) then even one person finding it funny makes it worth it.

        2. Kittehserf
          Kittehserf July 19, 2013 at 5:19 am |

          ::raises hand:: I’ll be that person, I thought it was funny.

    2. Willemina
      Willemina July 18, 2013 at 1:44 pm |

      No.

  12. msgd
    msgd July 18, 2013 at 1:27 pm |

    Am I morally obligated not to purchase art created by artists who are immoral people because doing so would benefit them? Is that the feeling I’m getting in this thread?

    There seems to be a lot of implying this without really saying it, and I want to be clear. The author of that article is basically saying “You must decide when an artist becomes too immoral and you no longer want to support them.” Has everyone here decided that there is some objective line and Card is clearly on the other side? Or does this just apply to all artists whom one knows to be immoral somehow?

    1. macavitykitsune
      macavitykitsune July 18, 2013 at 1:35 pm |

      The author of that article is basically saying “You must decide when an artist becomes too immoral and you no longer want to support them.”

      I don’t see anyone disagreeing with that sentiment here. As for the rest, if Card being on the board of NOM isn’t homophobia enough for you to boycott the guy, well, how nice for you.

    2. Willemina
      Willemina July 18, 2013 at 2:04 pm |

      Barnacle Strumpet summed what is basically my shared feeling quite nicely up above, where will the cash go? While Ender’s Game and Speaker for the Dead really spoke to me on multiple levels when I was a teen his active approach to his homophobia means that any money I send his way will end up financing some completely reprehensible stuff. It’s not like the guy just runs off an angry rambling op-ed every once in a while and puts the rest of it in to his next yacht named “God Hates XXXXXX II.”

      So to me it’s not about if it benefits them or not, any consumption of stuff they’ve produced essentially does that. It’s if I feel that by supporting them with cash I’m complicit in what they do. I apply it to all sorts of stuff, not just moral stances (Brad Pitt, nice guy though he is, will never get money from me for World War Z).

    3. Jamie
      Jamie July 19, 2013 at 4:03 pm |

      I think that’s a fair question, tbh, one with neither reply to you has truly answered. Scalzi’s saying, “Draw your own lines,” others here are saying, “No, there’s an objective line, and ignoring the objective line makes you a jerk.” I think it’s fair to make that subtext text, speaking as yet another person who won’t be giving OSC any more of her money.

      1. Jamie
        Jamie July 19, 2013 at 4:04 pm |

        *one WHICH neither

      2. msgd
        msgd July 22, 2013 at 2:21 pm |

        Right. I feel like almost every comment in this thread employs that subtext; but that subtext is precisely what the article is arguing against. Everyone is ignoring the argument and just saying “Well, Card is objectively bad.”

        Thanks for seeing that though.

        1. DouglasG
          DouglasG July 22, 2013 at 6:21 pm |

          I don’t care much whether people in the thread think of it as a subjective line or an objective line, certainly not half so much as I care that Mr Scalzi thinks it’s his place to give us same-sexers his straightsplained permission not to support the film or Mr Card’s art, or that Mr Scalzi ignores and not many posters here seem to be prioritizing same-sexer voices on this issue.

          On one level, okay, I can get to the point of calling it a subjective line. People are not perfect, nobody does ally-ism perfectly, and I suppose that, if we dig deeply enough, there is no author safe from people refusing to read her or him because of that author’s being at least a step too far wrong about issue X. People have to draw their own lines. Personally, I’d just think that the consequences of such a choice might be that I would refrain from giving someone who supported this film, however reluctantly, my Bestest Ally EVER! trophy. Now, some people who feel entitled to the BAE trophy will get very snippy about any inferred criticism of their ally-ism and react as if I’m calling them jerks.

          Seriously, though, I’m not. Accepting imperfection in attempted alliance, I tend to allow at least an exception or two for conflicting affections before considering the application of the J word. And it’s often more process than outcome. We’ve seen plenty of examples here of people examining a wide range of choices with great care and consideration.

        2. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune July 22, 2013 at 6:51 pm |

          Everyone is ignoring the argument and just saying “Well, Card is objectively bad.”

          who is? Have the words “objectively bad” or words to that effect occurred in this thread from anyone opposing watching/reading Card?

          And frankly, you know what, if you still support Card financially, you’re a homophobe in my book. If you’re all right with being a homophobe, fly your phobic flag and read Card! It’s not like I give a fuck.

          But don’t then have a sadz because Mac Don’t Like You No More, waaaahhhh, you poor misunderstood thing you.

          My very subjective 0.02 on the matter.

        3. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune July 22, 2013 at 6:54 pm |

          Now, some people who feel entitled to the BAE trophy will get very snippy about any inferred criticism of their ally-ism and react as if I’m calling them jerks.

          Ohohoho we are on the same page and also I take way too long to type comments, clearly.

          Frankly, it’s not even the insistence on financially supporting famous Ists “BECAUSE ART” that I find so annoying, it’s the relentless cookie-seeking and absolution-demanding from the privileged fucknuts who like to pull that kind of tactic. I mean, congratulations, you didn’t kick me in the face, but I’m not going to thank you for wiping your cruddy feet on my ass instead.

        4. Jamie
          Jamie July 25, 2013 at 9:40 pm |

          @DouglasG

          On one level, okay, I can get to the point of calling it a subjective line. People are not perfect, nobody does ally-ism perfectly, and I suppose that, if we dig deeply enough, there is no author safe from people refusing to read her or him because of that author’s being at least a step too far wrong about issue X. People have to draw their own lines.

          That, right there, is why I said what I said. Because I think recognizing that is something The Internet Left is really bad at, and I think recognizing that is worthwhile, since I think it helps in preventing our frequent circular firing squads. And I’m a “same-sexer,” so, just throwing that out there.

          Idk, there are just a lot of times, in conversations about Supporting Or Boycotting Problematic Content — hell, in conversations in the liberalosphere, period — where I’d prefer if people came right out and said, “I wish you’d do X, and if you don’t, I’m judgin’ hard,” instead of just heavily implying that.

          Again, I’m saying this as someone who doesn’t want to support Card financially! At all! And who, yeah, is irritated at the moviegoers who haven’t done the research because they’re straight and apolitical and don’t give a shit.

  13. Anon21
    Anon21 July 18, 2013 at 2:30 pm |

    I’m curious. For those who say this is about supporting Card’s lifestyle, would you support/be indifferent to pirating the movie, then watching it? Or is it that Card’s reprehensible views have tainted the story, such that it’s wrong to watch it regardless of how one acquires it?

    1. Anon21
      Anon21 July 18, 2013 at 2:33 pm |

      Sorry, I should be clearer: supporting Card’s lifestyle or his anti-LGBT political activities. I know it’s not just about wanting Card to live in poverty (which won’t happen anyway).

    2. Odin
      Odin July 18, 2013 at 3:51 pm |

      When Card wrote Ender’s Game, he wasn’t as foaming-at-the-mouth overtly homophobic as he is today, and the focal characters of the story are pre-pubescent for most of the book, so my opinion is that his homophobia does not come into play in the story, and so the work itself is not, viewed in isolation, tainted by his homophobia*. What his homophobia _does_ taint is the power of the message of that book and its sequel (Speaker for the Dead), because those two books can be read as a call for understanding, empathy, and dialog. Sadly, in those two books Card shows far more compassion for aliens than he does in real life for LGBT humans, so it kind of undermines the message. Sort of like the Declaration of Independence is much less inspirational when you realize many of the signatories owned slaves.

      *By contrast, Songmaster has some weird stuff where the bisexual man is somehow incapable of not cheating on his wife with a young man who looks like he’s ten, and some of his later work in the Ender spin-off series focused on Bean has some very unhealthy messages woven throughout about people, sex, and reproduction. (tl;dr, the purpose of life is for a man to marry a woman who then raises babies in his name. It doesn’t matter if he’s infertile, gay, or has a very nasty genetic disease that will kill him before he sees any of his progeny, he needs to find a way to reproduce and have a woman raise those babies for him. Meanwhile, women who take time off from raising their babies to help save the world should feel guilty and ashamed.)

      1. Odin
        Odin July 18, 2013 at 3:59 pm |

        (And for some reason I deleted my last paragraph right as I posted…)

        Personally, I’m boycotting the movie because I want to show public disapproval of Card and because I don’t want him getting any of my money.

        If I have an opportunity to watch the movie without him getting my money, my choice to watch or not watch will depend a bit on whether refusing to watch it will further communicate my disapproval of Card’s actions. Watching a pirated copy with friends who already know he’s an asshat? Sure, if I’m in the mood for an action flick. Watching it with people who don’t know he’s an asshat/don’t know the extent of his asshatedness? Depends on how they react when I say “I didn’t watch it in theatres because Card is an asshat who worked to do harm to friends of mine.”

      2. Jamie
        Jamie July 25, 2013 at 9:34 pm |

        What his homophobia _does_ taint is the power of the message of that book and its sequel (Speaker for the Dead), because those two books can be read as a call for understanding, empathy, and dialog. Sadly, in those two books Card shows far more compassion for aliens than he does in real life for LGBT humans, so it kind of undermines the message.

        I couldn’t get into Ender’s Game (too depressing), but I did respect him as a good writer, so I was really shocked when I discovered how homophobic he was, and wow, this comment just really drives it home in a particularly gut-wrenching way (I mean that as a compliment).

        There was a recent op-ed he wrote that screamed, to me, that he was gay and self-loathing — I’m not saying Every Homophobe Is Secretly Gay, but the op-ed was like “Heterosexuality is so hard! ‘Navigating the intersexual swamp’* is so much harder than gayness, which is so easy! Man, it’s easy to have sex with other guys! That’s why heterosexuality is worth it! Because it’s so difficult!” — to the point where, for the first time, I actually felt sorry for Card. But not enough to not be pissed that he chooses to lash out and support NOM, rather than, idk, GETTING THERAPY. I know it’s hard. He’s Mormon, right? I know. But man. I wish the guy would get help and stop hurting GLBT people and, if it’s as I suspect, by extension, himself. /END WILD SPECULATION

        *Most of that was clearly a paraphrase, but that one part? Quote. IIRC. THE INTERSEXUAL SWAMP.

  14. Athenia
    Athenia July 18, 2013 at 4:47 pm |

    two, I have a book being adapted to film, for which I strongly suspect the performance of Ender’s Game at the box office will be relevant to any eventual green light

    Scalzi, I love you, but that’s the worst thing to worry about at the moment. Hollywood doesn’t give a shit either way. Ender’s Game isn’t going to make you or break you.

  15. Alexandra
    Alexandra July 18, 2013 at 8:08 pm |

    “Losing” Card when I found out about his homophobia was particularly difficult for me. Card’s novels are (imho) unusually humane for their genre, vaguely military science fiction. His weird, brilliant children were wonderful heroes and heroines to me when I was growing up. In his (admittedly second rate) Ender’s Shadow series, I really appreciated the inclusion of a wider array of female heroines than are normally found in the genre, including elderly nuns and suburban mothers. I loved that Card was really, truly interested in the whole of the world, and not just America, and that when negotiating for a film version of Ender’s Game he pressed to have Battle School include a more diverse cast than is usual in the typical American film, because he intended for Battle School to be filled with children from around the world.

    But Card is not a casual homophobe. His homophobia is not incidental. Instead, it is part of his larger religious traditionalist worldview that is also profoundly anti-abortion (and even anti-contraception). Card’s wealth has made him a political actor of some significance. His later books have deeply weird politics, and I haven’t finished any book he’s written since about 2000 because of those politics. So, yes, a boycott makes sense to me. But it still makes me sad.

    1. Miriam
      Miriam July 19, 2013 at 6:39 pm |

      Is Card even profiting from the Ender’s Gate movie? I thought when an author sold rights for the movie, that was generally it. The author negotiated a sale; sale happened; author reaped money regardless of success/failure of movie.

      1. macavitykitsune
        macavitykitsune July 19, 2013 at 7:24 pm |

        Authors’ sales tend to rise when movie adaptations of their works come out. People who like a movie adapted from a book tend to buy more books by that author. Libraries tend to hold promotions of authors’ works when movie adaptations come out. Word of mouth about Card being a brilliant writer (if the movie is good) tends to boost author sales and promote visibility, too. Etc, etc.

      2. Willemina
        Willemina July 19, 2013 at 7:58 pm |

        He’s actively involved in the project as well. For what it’s worth he has a writer credit, a producer credit, and it’s not out of the question he’ll be getting something on the back end. This wasn’t just an option and walk away deal for him.

  16. Jerry
    Jerry July 19, 2013 at 7:16 am |

    My late wife puzzled over these issues re poets whose work she loved, but who were personally viciously antisemitic (she was Jewish). Her take on it tended to be that, in principle, the work should stand on its own, and if it’s good, it’s good, even if the author was not a good person.

    She admitted that this principle works a whole lot better when the author has been dead a long time and cannot benefit from the approval of their works.

    Me, I think Card’s a despicable person and I don’t want even one billionth of an indirect attaboy coming his way from me.

  17. Bagelsan
    Bagelsan July 21, 2013 at 2:13 pm |

    Yeesh, this reminds me why I prefer to know fuck-all about the private lives of any public figures. If my dollars are going towards harming people that’s worth knowing, but in the absence of direct harm I’m going to make my viewing/reading/etc. decisions based on the merit of the work and not the moral purity of the author. (And no, this isn’t me just being privileged or making the decision lightly.)

    For all I know, Brad Pitt loves punching baby giraffes in the face. Does that make WWZ despicable? Or what if Brad Pitt donates to a fund to help baby giraffes that have been face-punched, but the original author likes walloping baby animals like no one’s business? Does that make the original book bad, the movie good? (Protip: based on merit that ranking is entirely backwards!)

    Frankly I don’t want to know the ins-and-outs of any artist’s dark secrets. There is no “right” answer. Whether you enjoy the work or not is just a tired iteration of that stupid question “how to lead a flawless life?” which 1) you can’t and 2) no, you really can’t. I’m already going to hell for using a polluting/sweatshop/rare earth metals computer to write this out in the first place, probably, so when it comes to the media I consume I’m sure my sins of recreation won’t outweigh my actual sin of “consuming” in the first place. Until I decide to be a hermit on a mountain and eat nothing but rainwater I’m likely negatively impacting something, and getting cute about judging authors won’t do a thing to polish up my soul.

    It’s a conceit, at best, that withholding my dollar will teach Card to stop hating on gay people. Card’s already pretty fecking wealthy, science fiction needs more Hollywood clout, and I like Harrison Ford (and if he punches baby giraffes, don’t tell me.) Whether this will boil down to me seeing the movie or not I don’t honestly know, but I do know that my “boycotting” the production won’t accomplish a thing, except that the producers will probably conclude that the actors should have been even whiter or some shit like that, and then every movie with be cast like The Last Airbender and I’ll have just made the world slightly shittier for someone else anyways, albeit not gay people this time around. :p

    1. Jamie
      Jamie July 25, 2013 at 9:46 pm |

      except that the producers will probably conclude that the actors should have been even whiter or some shit like that,

      Oh my shit, unless people couple the boycotts with actions in front of the theaters, this is probably going to happen. UGHHHH.

      I vote same-sex Ender’s Game cosplay kiss-ins.

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