The movie Ender’s Game is coming out tomorrow. I won’t be going to see it tomorrow or, I think, at any time. Perhaps on cable or netflix someday. I wrote a piece on it this summer, linking Orson Scott Card’s anti-gay rhetoric to the terrible things happening right now in Russia. Rhetoric is not empty. Action, sponsorship, public writing – these things have consequences. Card wants to avoid them.
I’m concerned not about direct money going from the box office to the author, but how we parse what happens next. Like it or not, a big box office may result in a narrative that someone like Orson Scott Card can take the most objectionable positions in public, can spend money on homophobic activity, and then escape consequence. That’s not a narrative I want to see.
I understand there are alternative narratives possible.
Meanwhile, here’s a problem that has nothing to do with Card – it glorifies the child soldier.
The problem I have with the movie has to do with the entire concept of
child soldiers. Though it makes some gestures towards the idea that
Ender is going through a psychological wringer, primarily by portraying
him as a target of bullying who knows that his only way out is an even
more vicious show of retaliatory force, and to a lesser extent by Viola
Davis’s Major Anderson character agonizing over what’s happening to
Ender, his military education is still a fairly antiseptic, sanitized
environment. The zero-gravity war games aren’t a source of tension;
instead, they’re presented as exhilarating, practically fun. There’s
even a bit where Asa Butterfield, as Ender, floats through his enemies
in slow motion with a gun in each hand, firing away John Woo-style as
the music swells. It’s a moment that feels completely at odds with the
dark vision of the novel—basically, reducing Ender’s military training
to Space Quidditch.
So, yeah, that’s more typical. The depth of a book is lost beside the action sequences.
Enjoy the movie everyone going!