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Ender’s Game’s success as a movie overshadowed by Orson Scott Card’s bigotry

Last weekend, Orson Scott Card’s “Ender’s Game” entered theatres amidst muted applause. Though based on what was deemed an “un-filmable” novel written by Orson Scott Card, the movie was a decade in the making. The controversy surrounding its release was palpable: despite the studio’s insistence that Card was barely involved, it’s hard to separate the film from its progenitor.

Like, really hard, because Orson Scott Card is a bigot.

It’s this, more than the impossibility of bringing the novel to IMAX to begin with, that’s struck chords with its reviewers, actors, director and producers alike, and all with the intent of pushing you in or out of a seat.

It makes more sense if you’ve got a frame of reference for Card’s mindset. He’s likened our president’s tenure in office to that of another less-than-well-loved politician: “By the time Michelle has served her two terms, the Constitution will have been amended to allow Presidents to run for reelection forever. Obama will win by 98 percent every time. That’s how it works in Nigeria and Zimbabwe; that’s how it worked in Hitler’s Germany.”

Card has equated the country’s gradual warming towards marriage equality to its gradual dissolution by “dictator-judges”: “Biological imperatives trump laws. American government cannot fight against marriage and hope to endure. If the Constitution is defined in such a way as to destroy the privileged position of marriage, it is that insane Constitution, not marriage, that will die.”

And in May, Card contributed a 3,000-word thought experiment claiming that Obama’s steady candidacy would bear the seeds of an “army of unemployed brown-shirted youth.”

He is that guy. He wrote a book, and now it’s a movie. It’s going to make a lot of money. The question is whether you want to give it to him.

Lionsgate has gone out of their way to detail the logistics of the author’s contract: his payment for the film ended a decade ago. What he gets out of box-office proceeds will be comparatively nil. But with the publicity surrounding the film, his novel’s sales have skyrocketed, landing him on the top of the New York Times Best-Sellers List for the past several weeks in a row.

And that’s money that he will see. It’ll go in his pocket. Regardless of what executives say, there’s only so much side-line deflection will counteract.

It’s the scenario that begs the question of delineation in creation: with the line between a creator and their audience as flat as it’s ever been, how parallel do their views have to be with their purchasers? And what does it say when they aren’t, but you’ve consumed the product anyway?

Regardless of your personal political affiliations, it says quite a lot. That message isn’t very flattering.

The box office hopes you’ve come to your conclusion. Lionsgate hopes you haven’t decided. And Card, incidentally, could probably care less.

Senior staff columnist Bryan Washington is an English junior and may be reached at [email protected]


  • If I had to agree with the political views of an artist in order to enjoy his or her work, I probably wouldn’t be able to enjoy much in the way of art. Card sounds like a nut. He probably isn’t the first nut to make excellent art.

    • exactly. i don’t need, or want, everyone to share the same opinion or thought patterns as me, or else i would never get to enjoy the pleasures of interesting, creative art like ender’s game. that’s what makes art interesting, because people see the world in very different ways.

  • Success? It made less than After Earth on it’s first weekend.
    Might want to wait a few weeks (Like say after the movie breaks past at least it’s production budget of 100 million) before declaring it a success.

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