When I was 11 years old my father handed me a copy of Ender's Game. I'd been reading science fiction for a while and the escape it provided was a life-saver. I was a lonely kid, often unable to connect to other children. I was precocious. I was a nerd. And I was gay, which made all the alienation and awkwardness of pre-teen life a little bit worse. But nothing had given me hope and solace like this story of a kid who, like me, faced bullies and loneliness and then went on to do great things with huge integrity.
At the time, I didn't know anything about Orson Scott Card. I didn't care. Now, I know enough to understand our divergent political views and to appreciate the damage his opposition to equality has done to the fight for my rights under the law. I also know that when a major Hollywood producer finally decided to turn the book that helped me survive childhood into a movie, Orson Scott Card made a lot of money from the deal.
Some people have taken these facts and turned them into a reason to boycott the movie. This is a sad, and pretty terrible turn of events. Here's why:
- Ender's Game is like a thousand "It gets better" videos in one. It's a powerful story about one small loser who crawls out of a painful childhood and finds purpose and community. It resonates with gay kids, it has for decades. And a movie, if done well, will only spread that important narrative.
- The actors, producers and crew working on Ender's Game -- the people likely to profit most from the movie's success -- have given no indication that they are anything but 100 percent supportive of equality. In fact, many have been vocal about their opposition to Card's views. That they adapted a book written in the '80s, reimagined it for a modern audience, and put millions behind getting it out in the world has very little to do with the political beliefs of the author of the original novel.
- The energy used for a boycott would be a thousand times more powerful if it were used to lobby the movie's distributors to put Ender's Game in the center of the discussion of gay rights: to donate it to LGBT rights fundraisers, to use it for LGBT youth outreach and to urge the stars of the movie to speak out about equality. We can, as a community, reclaim Ender as one of our own. And in doing so, get a bigger win than any boycott can deliver.
None of this eliminates the homophobic comments Orson Scott Card made, and it doesn't erase the harm of his lobbying against equality. But the positive influence this movie could have, the importance of Ender's story, and the chance to use this controversy for the good of every struggling young gay kid stuck in a world that seems intent on destroying him, all outweigh any benefit a boycott could bring.
There are moments where boycotts are a powerful tool and tactic, when they promise real change. This is not one of those times. Let's turn our outrage at the hate of this one man into a campaign for hope. Let's make Ender one of us. In many ways, he always has been.