Card and Cars: Black and White

Growing up, I was one of those “gifted” students. I don’t know that I’m any smarter than the average bear, but I’ve always tested well. I got good grades; was often the teacher’s pet; and received much grief from my peers as I was presented with special opportunities and accolades not available to them. Sometime in my early adulthood, I finally read a book which had been recommended to me many times before. In addition to sparking my love for science fiction, it spoke to my struggles as a “gifted” child. As I turned the pages on this story of a small boy tasked with shouldering the weight of the world and despised by his classmates who couldn’t see the immense pressures he faced, I felt my own childhood burdens being lifted from me. I saw in Ender a reflection of myself. When he broke under the pressures and withdrew, I recognized my own need to escape reality and ultimately walk away from the games I was forced to play. I have read many books before and since – much better books even, but Ender’s Game will forever be one of my favorites because of the ultimate truths it reveals in its fictional world.

When I first saw the trailer for the movie version, being released today, I cried. That’s not saying a lot because I cry over everything. However, here was Ender Wiggin, larger than life, complete with all the big-budget special effect cinematography befitting any blockbuster film. Look! It’s Alai and Bonzo and Petra and… oh, sweet Valentine… ::sigh:: (Yeah, it was the snippet of the scene with Valentine that got me.) And they’ve got Harrison Ford and Ben Kingsley and a just phenomenal line-up of actors in this movie. I’m a big movie buff. I don’t get to the theater much and I don’t recall ever going to see something on opening night, but when I saw that trailer, I knew this was going to be one I HAD to see just as soon as I could. Yes, I know they’re going to take liberties with the story and it’ll never live up to the book, but… it’s Ender’s Game! How could I NOT be all hopped up in anticipation!?

And then I start hearing all this bad press. Orson Scott Card, the author of Ender’s Game, is a Mormon and has spoken publicly against homosexuality. There are calls for boycotts of the film and all sorts of angry talk going around from folks who apparently think that not paying $10 to go see one movie will somehow financially ruin an award-winning novelist/English professor who has been writing best-sellers since the 70s and has sold… well, I can’t even imagine how many books he’s sold. Suffice to say, even if not one single person pays to watch this movie and Card himself had to foot the bill for the entire production (which, of course, he doesn’t), he’ll still have more money than God.

Now, I understand that there are those who feel very passionately about their stance on all manner of social issues. And I applaud those individuals for standing up and fighting injustices wherever they see fit. If I saw Orson Scott Card personally attempting to halt a gay marriage, I would most likely assist in escorting him from the premises, myself. But he wrote one hell of a good book. It’s not a book about homosexuality (or genocide, despite what you may have heard). There isn’t any mention of any kind of sexuality whatsoever! It’s a book about kids – prepubescent kids, as a matter of fact. The book is so asexual that one of the minor, but important characters was changed from a male in the book to a female in the film and it makes no difference, whatsoever.

Back in the early 1930s, a certain world leader wanted to make automobiles affordable to your average German citizen. Private industry was unable to answer his call, so he brought the project under State supervision and before long, Hitler and the Nazi party had created the Volkswagen. It’s a great little car – a great, big, wonderful line of fantastic automobiles, as a matter of fact. All created by the same hands that nearly exterminated the entire Jewish race… as well as any known homosexuals, coincidentally. Yet no one calls for the boycott of Volkswagen. Is not Hitler a worse evil than Card?

Speaking of the Holocaust, one of my favorite movies is The Pianist. I fell in love with Adrien Brody because of his amazing work in this devastating and heart-wrenching movie. Of course, Brody was working under the direction of Roman Polanski who had actually survived the Warsaw ghettos and thus was able to provide accurate and personal insight into the subject matter. This movie gave Polanski Oscar wins for Best Picture and Best Director. Unfortunately, Polanski was unable to accept the awards in person as he has been a fugitive from the US justice system since he was found guilty of raping a 13 year-old child in 1978. Perhaps it’s my own judgmental nature, but I think someone who finds it acceptable to sexually assault children and evade the law for decades is a much worse person than someone who, at worst, could be labelled a bigoted homophobe.

We all like to get on our moral high horses from time to time and this leads to “black and white” thinking. How often do we demonize the man instead of convicting the sin within the man? Wasn’t Einstein, a known pacifist, central to the manufacture of the atomic bomb? Is he not still held in the highest regard despite the countless deaths his work caused?  Why do we shower Roman Polanski with awards, drive Volkswagens and admire Einstein while spewing bile about a movie based on a book written by a man who stands by his religious beliefs and speaks his conscience on a still controversial matter?

Now, I don’t care if you watch Ender’s Game or not. And I don’t care what reasons you have for your decision. It may end up being a terrible movie. I, however, will watch it and I will pay through the nose to see it on the big screen with my $80 tub of popcorn. Guns ‘N Roses recorded a song written by Charles Manson and it’s actually a pretty good song. Yeah, THAT Charles Manson. I never want to be judged by one aspect of my character, and least of all not my worst one. I am not a sum total of all my bad acts, nor am I the sum of all my limited good. Call me out where I’m wrong and praise me when I’m right. I don’t agree with Orson Scott Card’s stance on homosexuality, but he created something that speaks to the hurt, little girl in me, and for that, he’s amazing. The world is not black and white. We are all varying shades of grey. Today, I choose to judge things by their own merits instead of judgmentally dismissing the good because of a little bad.

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