It might surprise you that my almost seven-year-old post "The Damnation of Orson Scott Card" has nothing to do with how the lgbt community feels about him. Less surprising will be that my eight-plus-month-old two-part series "The Orson Scott Card Stigma" (one, two) has a great deal to do with that.
Anyway, I'm just back from seeing Ender's Game. My primary reactions to the film (other than my actual reactions to the actual film) are, in order of relevance to this post:
1. I would love to see a Shadow of the Hegemon movie or tv show. In part because wouldn't Hailee Steinfeld be sweet as Petra in that story?
2. I know it's by far the Orson Scott Card book I'm most familiar with, but I really ought to reread Speaker for the Dead.
3. There's some real-world irony out there, given the emphases Ender's Game places on Ender's character.
(Note, I'm not interested in debating the validity of anyone's take on the specific issue under discussion, or even one closely related. So for purposes of this post, we're going to say that Orson Scott Card has a popular YouTube channel in which he drains and drinks the blood of kittens. Kitten killer!)
A lot of ink has been spilled about how ironic it is that a book like Ender's Game was written by a kitten killer in the first place. After all, isn't what makes Ender special his empathy? How can someone who created a superhero powered by empathy kill kittens?
“I think it's impossible to really understand somebody, what they want, what they believe, and not love them the way they love themselves.” *This is the irony everyone's been talking about. How can the man who created Ender kill kittens? What is wrong with Orson Scott Card?
Well, besides all the trite things I could say about how Ender also doing some killing or about Orson Scott Card also creating the mass of humanity who rejects Ender and views him as a monster---besides all that, this irony can be turned either direction.
If Orson Scott Card is the enemy (if), and if (if) you feel he must be quote-unquote destroyed, then:
“In the moment when I truly understand my enemy, understand him well enough to defeat him, then in that very moment I also love him. I think it’s impossible to really understand somebody, what they want, what they believe, and not love them the way they love themselves. And then, in that very moment when I love them.... I destroy them.”If you want to "destroy" Orson Scott Card, if you take Ender so seriously that it makes Orson Scott Card that much more monstrous, then you need to take Ender seriously enough to understand/love Orson Scott Card.
But the fact is, most of us aren't Ender. Whether it's hideous space bugs or a man with kitten blood dripping from his goatee, we're not willing to look that enemy in the face and love them.
No matter how you feel about the kitten killer himself, I think thirty years has proven enough time to prove Ender's Game a great book (personally, I prefer Speaker, but I don't think thirty years have been enough to prove that). And someday the storm that is apparently going to be the rest of Orson Scott Card's life (kitten killer!) will end. And even the way we feel about the kittens being killed today will soften with time. And what will be left is the people of the future (kittens inclusive) and Ender Wiggin.
If we insist on conflating Orson Scott Card with Ender Wiggin then we have two options. First: stop it. Second: if we respect the book so much that we can't pretend Ender doesn't matter, then we have to try to be like Ender.
Because here's the thing: you can never make someone else as empathetic as Ender (kitten killer!).
Empathy is not a thing you can force on people.
Nor is it something I'm comfortable judging the health of in other people.
However: Empathy is something we can strive to develop in ourselves.
We can't make Orson Scott Card Ender Wiggin. But we can make ourselves Ender Wiggin.
Is anyone up for the challenge?
[note: images from here and here]