Friday, November 1, 2013

Should We Boycott Enders Game?

How to separate the artist from the art?

For as long as people have been crafting entertainment for others, the viewing public has faced a dilemma when the beauty of the art is seemingly contrasted by the flaws of the creator.  That controversy comes front and center this weekend with the release of the film version of Ender's Game, a hugely popular sci-fi story first published in 1985. So many sci-fi fans grew up on the brilliance of Orson Scott Card's story of a child who must save the world - a theme common throughout literature and most recently developed in Harry Potter, Percy Jackson, and The Hunger Games. This challenging theme is well analyzed by Laura Miller recently in a review for

The problem with the release of Ender's Game is all the press coverage of Orson Scott Card's other writings which are aggressively anti-homosexual. Card - a devout Mormon who grew up in Salt Lake City and graduated from Brigham Young University - has been an outspoken critic of gay marriage and has written some rather disturbing views on homosexuality.  These views have led to a call to "boycott the movie" so Card does not receive any further royalties.  And, this is the point at which fans and critics alike must conclude how to deal with unsavory elements of an artist that seem so disparate from what fans love about the art.  Sean Means of the Salt Lake City Tribune analyzes this complicated issue with some great history of troublesome artists.

Certainly, artists can be tortured souls whom make themselves difficult to love.  But does the life of the artists outside the art compromise the value of the creation? Sean Means poses this question about Card's life against examples such as composer Richard Wagner and his alleged anti-Semitism, Michael Jackson and his alleged sexual abuse of children, and Roman Polanski who was accused of sexual assault of a 13-year old girl and fled the United States to avoid charges. Certainly, artists can live edgy and controversial lives. Ernest Hemingway was a notorious drunk whose abuse of women and prejudiced views make him difficult to defend as a man. But does that compromise the art? What if the art seems to so beautifully contradict the public image of the artist?

As Means argues, "Ultimately, it will be the viewer's choice whether to embrace the tolerance message of Ender's Game or reject the film" based on a decision to not separate the man from the art.

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