Pretty, Fizzy Paradise

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Thursday, July 31, 2008

A Brief Note on Card

This saddens me.

Not because I'm an Orson Scott Card fan. I kind of liked the Alvin Maker series when I was a kid (I doubt I'd like it now) but I always thought the Ender series overrated. Hart's Hope was okay, but I couldn't get past parts.

Not because I'm surprised. I've read Songmaster. I wouldn't recommend it. Homosexuality (and pederasty) as written by Card. Yeah. Let's leave it at that.

(Naturally no distinction is made in the book between pederasty and homosexuality. It's another reason I would definitely NOT recommend that book.)

I feel for his fans though. Because it SUCKS to find out someone whose work you admire is someone who could spew that sort of rhetoric. And much as you try, you really can't read even the work you enjoyed without some awareness of that in the back of your mind. I've been there. It sucks.

Sometimes I wish we could just put blocks in our minds up, like Chatroom ignore, so we never have to hear what the artists/writers/et al who make our favorite stuff really think. But at the same time, I can think of a lot of people I admire that seem like really great people in real life too. And I wouldn't want to miss out on that just to ignore the assholes.

Besides, it's irresponsible to bury one's head in the sand. It's okay to enjoy something even knowing unsavory info, but it's not okay to pretend that stuff doesn't exist.

It's still depressing.

(Also, I'm disappointed in Marvel's decision to publish his comics. I can see why they would. Ender's Game and the rest are incredibly popular with nearly every geek I know. But I'm disappointed nonetheles..)


  • At July 31, 2008 9:07 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    If you want to see his actual political beliefs- if you look here, you'll see what he posts to one of the local newspapers: (OSC lives twenty miles from him, I still haven't fulfilled my one military bet and egged his house though- I'll probably use Cadbury's though)

    I don't think he hates homosexuals, he just strongly believes that it is wrong. I think he's mistaken but not evil, and in some issues you'd like him. (Seriously)

  • At July 31, 2008 9:47 AM, Blogger kalinara said…

    I doubt it. I've yet to even read an author's note by this guy that I've liked.

    And whether he "hates homosexuals" or just "strongly believes that it is wrong" doesn't really matter when he's advocating treating a group of people as second class citizens.

    He could be the nicest guy in the world, but you know? I think I still wouldn't like him.

  • At July 31, 2008 10:08 AM, Blogger Ric Rant said…

    I try my best to regard works of art/fiction as very distinct from statements and essays by the creators.

    I tend to think that the obligation to make an intriguing story often raises the intellectual game of creators, and sometimes lets them shake free a little from the ideologies they have chosen to stand by in real life.

    Now, I might make a decision not to enrich a specific political agitator, if I think there's a ... co-mingling of funds between his or her art and activism, but that's a separate issue from whether I can enjoy a given work for its own qualities.

  • At July 31, 2008 11:18 AM, Blogger tavella said…

    Unfortunately, with OSC, once you know the creepy in real life (and apparently it is in real life and not just editorials -- he's one of those people who can't deal with gay people in life, I've heard stories of him being rude to someone who just came to his booksigning because she was a lesbian, and what was described as "foaming fits" at gay people at conventions), it's impossible not to see it in the books, too. Y'know, like Songmaster where the gay guy commits suicide out of shame.

  • At July 31, 2008 11:47 AM, Blogger Ferrous Buller said…

    Also, I'm disappointed in Marvel's decision to publish his comics.

    I'm not. Or rather, I think the decision to publish the comics should be based on their merit as comics, not based on the personal views of the creator. Refusing to publish the work of artists who hold unpopular or unsavory personal beliefs is a form of censorship, IMHO, and when in doubt I always err in favor of free speech. If people object to Card's views, they can choose to boycott his work; if sales are poor enough, Marvel will get the message.

  • At July 31, 2008 2:08 PM, Blogger Ragtime said…

    So, about two years ago or so I read "Ender's Game" because (1) I had never read it, and (2) it kept popping up on top of lists of "Best SF Novel"s.

    Can someone explain to me how it wasn't a completely trite "Mary Sue" story that would have been rejected from a high school fanzine as too predictable, formulaic, and unrealistic to merit consideration?

    I mean, I've read different types of stories that "weren't my type," but not one that was so blatantly BAD. As in poorly written and unoriginal.

    I think it speaks poorly of SF fans that the book is so beloved.

    I have no problem with Marvel publishing it, but if people are buying it, shame on them -- for lots of reasons.

  • At July 31, 2008 3:57 PM, Blogger kalinara said…

    Ferrous: I disagree with you. I don't think Marvel choosing not to publish Mr. Card's work would be censorship.

    It's not stopping Mr. Card from publishing anything elsewhere. It's certainly not keeping him from expressing his opinions. It also wouldn't be trying to mask his opinions or mutate them into something they're not.

    Just as Mr. Card has the right to say whatever he wants, Marvel has the right to publish what they want (provided they hold the legal rights). I don't think they're morally obligated to showcase the work of someone that they choose not to support.

    It's like a newspaper really. You have every right to submit an article or letter to a newspaper, but the newspaper choosing to publish something else instead isn't censorship. (It may well be discrimination, if it's based on something outside of the talent/topicality of the author/subject. But then, I've never claimed to be free of bias or discrimination.)

    In this case, I wish that Marvel had put their money/resources in a different product. I don't consider that being pro-censorship. I consider that being disappointed that Marvel would rather go for a sure seller than make a political statement.

    Sure, it's irrational, but what can you do.

  • At July 31, 2008 5:36 PM, Blogger Alix said…


    I've heard people argue before that companies choosing not to publish something is a form of censorship, and I still don't get it. I was taught that censorship is something that only a governing body is capable of.

    Saying that Marvel not publishing Card's works would be censorship is like saying it's anti-free-speech to loudly denounce what someone says in a public forum. It just makes no sense. Sure, Card has the right to hold whatever views he wants, and to write whatever he wants, but he has no right to get published, especially on someone else's dime. Just like I have the right to say whatever I want, but it doesn't mean any radio stations are obligated to broadcast it.

  • At July 31, 2008 11:25 PM, Blogger Ununnilium said…

    While I agree it wouldn't be censorship, I also agree that they should base their decisions on wether to publish an individual's works on the works, not the individual.

  • At August 01, 2008 10:43 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Regarding a hypothetical choice by Marvel to not publish work A by card because of views expressed in essays B-SSS,

    It may not exactly be censorship, but it would be something like a blacklist, which I don't think would be a great precedent.

    If we're talking sort of in the abstract about what one might wish for, the sensible thing is to wish for Card to smarten up and become a more decent person. That would really solve the problem.

  • At August 01, 2008 11:31 AM, Blogger Ferrous Buller said…

    "Censorship" was probably the wrong word, but my point is I don't like the notion of publishers applying a litmus test to creators based on their personal views. The decision to publish something should be based on the content of the work, not the beliefs of their creator, IMHO. I don't think refusing to publish someone's work becomes "right" just because I don't like the author's views, either.

    Say you wrote a script for Marvel and Joe Quesada called you up and said, "Great script, Melissa! But I read your blog and I vehemently disagree with your views on abortion / gay marriage / the war in Iraq / sexiest Green Lantern, so Marvel won't be publishing your story." Odds are you'd be pissed, and rightly so: "What do my beliefs about Hot Button Topic X have to do with a story about Ms. Marvel punching out MODOK?"

    In general I believe that people's professional careers shouldn't suffer because of their personal beliefs, so long as they don't interfere with their work. It's wrong for the DOJ to refuse to hire people for being liberals; and it's wrong for a publisher to refuse to publish an author solely because of his homophobia.

    Now you can say that just because Marvel won't publish his work doesn't mean Card can't go somewhere else to be published. But there are two problems I see with that attitude. First is that Marvel and DC completely dominate the U.S. comic-book market; if they refuse to publish something, then the creator is stuck going somewhere with much lower circulation, which means much lower sales, which means the creator makes less money. Second, it sets a dangerous precedent: it's Marvel editorial saying, "If we don't agree with your political or moral views, we won't publish your work - period." Sure, that's convenient so long as their editors' views comport with your own; but what happens if, say, a more conservative batch of editors takes the reins of powers and suddenly liberal creators find themselves in the dog house?

    It creates a potentially hostile environment where creators are afraid to publicly express their opinions freely, out of concern that a prospective publisher will hold it against them because they disagree. I much prefer to see editorial decisions being made independent of the creator's personal beliefs.

    [I suppose one could come up with an extreme example to test the limits of my tolerance - "So if Hitler had written a great Superman script, it should've been published, eh, Nazi lover?!" - but for now I'll try to keep this grounded in plausible scenarios.]

    Now, if Card hands in a script which is a thinly veiled homophobic screed? I have no problem with refusing to publish that - but that's because the content itself is objectionable.

  • At August 01, 2008 12:29 PM, Blogger Dorian said…

    I love how nerds always go out of their way to defend homophobia...

  • At August 05, 2008 9:59 PM, Blogger Scott (The Mad Thinker) Anderson said…

    Thanks for posting and linking to that. I'm now in the process of picking it apart maliciously. Anyone surprised?

    Thanks again.


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