NYT gets it wrong on Ender’s Game controversy
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.