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NYT gets it wrong on Ender’s Game controversy

Timothy Kincaid

July 15th, 2013

It would be difficult to be more wrong on the controversy surrounding Orson Scott Card and the upcoming movie Ender’s Game than is the New York Times. The article, by Michael Cieply, not only misses the point, it does so in a way that is condescending and, at times, astonishingly stupid.

Before you even get to the article, the headline declares: “Author’s Views on Gay Marriage Fuel Call for Boycott”. Not even close.

But often headlines are misleading. So let’s turn to the article itself. Which starts this way:

At last count, 667 people, give or take, have screen credits on “Ender’s Game.”

One of them turned into a problem this week.

Oh, was it plasterer Ken Lewis Jr.? Or maybe property and set master Twig Leveque? Or any of the other 640-something people you’ve never heard of?

No. Of course not. And Cieply’s suggestion that it was just one of the 667 people with screen credit is disingenuous.

The concern is about the author of the book, creator of the characters, and producer of the move, Orson Scott Card.

And the problems don’t stop with Cieply’s downplaying of the level of connection with the movie, he also distorts the cause of the concerns. The article describes the problem using

At issue is the author of the novel on which the film is based, Orson Scott Card; his views on homosexuality; and his public stance against same-sex marriage.

Some of the views to which Mr. Jarrett and others object have been posted by Glaad as part of a Web-based “accountability project.” It cites published articles in which Mr. Card argued against the acceptance of homosexuality by Mormons, for instance, and contended that gay behavior often begins with sexual abuse.

Well sure. Those are some of the “views”. But there is no one protesting because Card said that the church he attends should not be pro-gay. And if his sneers were limited to misunderstanding the etiology of sexual orientation, we wouldn’t even know or care.

And, while Cieply quotes the head of the protest as saying “It’s very, very clear what he said and what he stands for”, Cieply never, ever, uses a single example of what Card has said. Not, for example, these quotes which were included in an LA Times article on the same subject:

Card repeatedly has spoken and written about his opposition to gay rights and gay marriage. He has been active in the National Organization for Marriage, which recently wrote to supporters, “If we do not fight back against these governmental attacks on our fundamental right to act in the public square in support of the truth of marriage as God created it, then none of our cherished liberties and rights are safe.”

Writing in 1990, Card said, “Laws against homosexual behavior should remain on the books, not to be indiscriminately enforced against anyone who happens to be caught violating them, but to be used when necessary to send a clear message that those who flagrantly violate society’s regulation of sexual behavior cannot be permitted to remain as acceptable, equal citizens within that society.”

In the Mormon Times in 2009, he wrote, “Married people attempting to raise children with the hope that they, in turn, will be reproductively successful, have every reason to oppose the normalization of homosexual unions.”

But while Cieply didn’t have time or space for any actual illustrations of Card’s actual language, he did find time to tell us that there are only 2,000 people boycotting, that there are a lot of obscure boycotts of movies “that somehow offend them”, that Lionsgate has also promoted movies with positive gay images, and that someone somewhere wrote something that claims that Ender’s Game isn’t homophobic. So there.

Cieply may have set out to report the story about a cultural pushback against the promotion of a movie over controversial statements made by the story’s author, but at some point he decided that his story was about how silly, pointless, and unjustified the objections were. Which is fine for a blogger or a columnist, but as a piece of journalistic reporting, this article fails miserably.

Comments

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sunshine.by
July 15th, 2013 | LINK

I will make sure this movie is seen by as many people as possible.

I will download the pirated torrent and will keep the Upload limit open for anyone who is willing to view it; I will even go as far as cutting it to DVDs and dropping them to anyone who considers viewing it.

How’s that for a plan?

Andrew
July 15th, 2013 | LINK

Sunshine, tell me where and when…

I have one word that explains NYT’s handling of this situation: money.

There are a lot of investors with a lot of money riding on this film (and honestly, it’s a great property, if not for the resident Assholian with his name all over it). They would like this controversy to go away as quickly as possible, and this, no doubt, is but one element in their PR campaign.

You can expect to see the round of “pshaw-ers” hitting the talking heads circuit next. Rather than get cranky, they’ll do their best to make us look oversensitive and, frankly, queeny and emotional. (Or, if you’re a lesbian, strident and emotional). Same old same old.

Gene in L.A.
July 15th, 2013 | LINK

Given the number of gay people working in the film and DVD businesses, do we really want to use open piracy as a tool against bigotry? Two wrongs have never made a right, and it won’t start now. Surely, as intelligent as many gay people are, there are ways of making our point without breaking a law and harming the finances of our own people.

Mark F.
July 15th, 2013 | LINK

Card won’t make less money if the film bombs, unless he has a deal to get a cut of the box office. Most authors are just paid a flat fee for the rights to use their work.

Barkley
July 15th, 2013 | LINK

The NYT really needs to label their advertisements better. Obviously, this column was commi$$ioned by the movie industry in response to the negative press about Card’s bigotry. With apologies for mixing franchises, Cieply is just their Wormtongue. This is really a great big fat “F— You” from the studio execs to the homos.

The article doesn’t even need to make sense, because most of the public just has a vague notion that there was some sort of controversy… If they buy the story that it’s yet another gay marriage thing, they’ll tune right out, and just go see the movie.

Andrew
July 15th, 2013 | LINK

Couldn’t have said it better, Bark – as ever, “follow the money”.

TomTallis
July 15th, 2013 | LINK

There’s an easier solution than piracy. If you really want to see the movie, go to your nearest large multiplex, buy a ticket for ANOTHER MOVIE, and then saunter in to see Card’s movie. If you’re challanged (highly unlikely), just act surprised and say the box office must have made an error.

Andrew
July 15th, 2013 | LINK

Tom, I’ve already talked about that elsewhere… just can’t be one of the nazi theaters that checks tickets for each individual showing.

Lymis
July 15th, 2013 | LINK

“Card won’t make less money if the film bombs, unless he has a deal to get a cut of the box office. Most authors are just paid a flat fee for the rights to use their work.”

He’s listed as one of the film’s producers. Safe to assume he’s not just in it for popcorn money.

Besides, if the movie does well, his book sales are going to pick up, both for his back catalogue and for future books in the series. Since the book series is lengthy, a hit movie is likely to spawn sequels – which would result in more money to Card.

TomTallis
July 15th, 2013 | LINK

Andrew, our local multiplex has 26 screens. No one ever checks for anything.

DK
July 16th, 2013 | LINK

re: Gene in L.A.’s comment: Where does that payment schedule for movie workers theory come from? I see it whenever gays want to boycott movies since we’re apparently disproportionately represented in the industry. The assumption is that every single person who works on the production doesn’t get paid until the receipts come in and only if there are enough. I am not sure that that is even close to the case on large studio films.

Rob
July 16th, 2013 | LINK

DK-
I’m pretty sure Gene is talking about the profits from the film. The only individuals that don’t get paid while doing the job ar those who accept back end deals and get a percentage of the gross. That’s almost always the actors/director/writer/producers. It is almost unheard of for any other type of worker to get that deal, unless its an independent film where that might be everyone involved taking a delayed payment.
Piracy would indeed affect a number of folks in the hierarchy but few in jobs like make-up, costumes or gaffes and gophers…

DK
July 16th, 2013 | LINK

@Rob: Indeed. That was what I thought. It’s just that whenever that objection is used, it always seems to be deployed to tug at our heartstrings for “the little people” in whom I have no doubt we are well-represented. It’s never a more honest “the principal actors/director/writers/producers won’t make more money unless we support them!”

Rob
July 16th, 2013 | LINK

DK- I only know about the back end verse front end stuff because I have a friend who is head of payroll in a major studio. The regular folks get paid just like any other company pays people, and the only special stuff is for big wigs, so no, no one else gets hurt by this. BUT I do think piracy is wrong for reasons other than that, it is theft of a product and as such is morally and legally wrong, regardless of who does it or doesn’t do it. I write and paint and do other creative things and feel that intellectual property rights belong to those who own them and should be honored. Artists don’t work for free and deserve to be paid for their works.

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