Processing Great Art Made by Contemptible Artists


I’ve been reading the Ender’s Game Saga on and off for about eight years, since a friend thrust the first book into my hands and demanded I read it. I read it and liked it, and read more.

Unlike other series I’ve read though, I haven’t been able to blow through them one after another. They’re different. They’re paced different. They’re not really that concerned with plot as much as the people stuck in the plot. There is an awful lot of thought, research and intelligence that goes into each book. There is empathy. A lot of empathy, for humans, bugs and piggies alike. A level of empathy that makes Orson Scott Card’s continuing series of bigoted rants all the more confusing and hard to reconcile with a book like Speaker for the Dead, which is entirely about understanding the complexities and differences of all life forms.

How could someone who advocates for the buggers and pequeninos not advocate for gays and lesbians?

How, as the most recent rant goes, could he spend so much time on the nuance of a character(SPOILER) who is so internally splintered after committing a genocide and then compare Obama to Hitler and the Ayatollah(END SPOILER)

But I knew about the rants before. They’re getting more play now because the movie is coming out soon, but they’ve always existed with extreme unease alongside the novels. I’ve been recommending them for years, but always with the caveat that Orson Scott Card is kind of a Mormon nut job. I’ve always recommended that to buy the books used (as to not put any money into his pockets, and thus the Mormons’ pockets, as is their obligation) is the best way to go about it, to at least free yourself of some of the guilt that comes along with enjoying the art of someone you will probably end up despising.

But when the movie promotion machine began, they forgot that all too important caveat, hoping to sweep the nonsense under the rug. Look at the mess it’s caused. Calls for boycotts and intense social media angst as people discover what a shitty person Card is now and has been one certain issues, following with a deep wish that the writer could be removed from his work.

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