Qualms and Quandaries

My friend Collette and I took our kids (her three, my two) to see Ender’s Game on Tuesday evening. Collette and I and her two boys, both avid readers, had read the book and all placed it in our top ten list of all time. A few months ago, I was talking to Collette and since she had once said she would never pay money to see another Mel Gibson movie, I asked how she felt about paying money to see a movie based on a book by Orson Scott Card, to which she replied “huh?”. After I filled her in, she added something like, “did you have to tell me that, you bitch?”

It’s a funny thing, the artist verses the art thing. Works of the most heart-stopping beauty and magnificence can come from the most reprehensible of human beings. I find it mystifying that writing that to me has always seemed suffused with the utmost kindness and generosity of spirit, comes from an intelligence that believes wholeheartedly that homosexuality is the gravest of sins.

Another friend consoled us with the fact that Card had made all his money off the movie up front, and that ticket sales wouldn’t put anything extra into his pocket. He also said that he has no difficulty divorcing the art from the artist, so he would have experienced no moral dilemma either way.

I’m honestly not entirely sure where I stand on the matter (I’m sure that comes as a great shock to everyone). If I buy a book by Orson Scott Card, I’m endorsing his writing, not his views on sexuality, right? Should I boycott every author who holds an opinion I find objectionable? Every movie starring an actor who’s gotten drunk and spouted racist slurs? I did publicly state that I would never eat at Chick fil a – by the preceding logic shouldn’t I be saying that if the chicken was good enough I would eat it even though the place was owned by bigots?

On the whole, I would say it does make a difference, however unquantifiable. I can’t say I won’t ever buy a book by Orson Scott Card again. I don’t want to refuse to read or see anything made by people I disagree with, because that furthers no one’s growth. I guess I need to think about this some more.

As for the movie, it wasn’t blow-your-mind wonderful, but it wasn’t as big a disappointment as it could have been. Some of the exposition was pretty ham-handed, which was partly regrettable and partly understandable, given the time constraints. The two boys who read the book and the boy and two girls who hadn’t all said they really liked it. Harrison Ford was good, Asa Butterfield was really good, and Angus and Eve and I couldn’t get over the fact that Bonzo Madrid was played by Rico from Hannah Montana


Nicole said…
I struggle with this as well. On the one hand, should I never moonwalk again when Billie Jean comes on? Should I shun a certain clothing company even though I love their clothes and I have a closetful of them? Should I burn the existing clothes? But I love my clothes! It's not hard for me to not eat at Chick Fil A, but at what point can we divorce the art? I don't know. I really dig Eminem's music, but he's kind of a crazed douche. Same with Kanye West. WHAT TO DO?
Helen Abbott said…
I'm reading Wonder with Nathan now!!! It's spectacularly good. We have the best conversations after our nightly 20 mins of reading.

I don't know if I should be able to divorce art from the artist, but I can't. I suck at it. So thanks for telling me about Enders Game. Sigh.
Maggie said…
I have been having this struggle about Enders Game as well. It seems to come down to my strong desire that he had just kept his big mouth shut and his horrible views to himself so I didn't have to feel conflicted. Evidently I combat this by learning as little as possible about authors and similar whose works I really love. I will never see a Roman Polanski film and I probably won't pay to see Enders Game. If anyone knows anything else about other artists that is totally horrible, please keep it to yourselves because I don't want the stress.
Courtney said…
I still can't decide if I want to see this or not. I haven't yet read the book, but I had previously read others by him. I'm torn about whether to see this or not (as well as to read any more of hist books) because of his views on sexuality... I have boycotted authors previously, but that's often more because of how they act towards bloggers online. I will probably see it eventually, but not until it's available to rent on iTunes.
Lynn said…
Ugh, I hear you - and this doesn't even cover situations where you have no idea of the inner thoughts of famous people (what does Eddie Bauer think about plastics incineration? What does the CEO of Levis think about exotic pets as animals? etc etc). It's kind of a minefield.

I guess you just do the best you can on a case by case basis. I personally had major issues when the Abercrombie and Fitch guy said his clothes were "not for ugly people" last year. That to me is tainting the brand, making me feel like if I wore his clothes, I'd be endorsing that idea. Other cases, like the pasta guy that said he wouldn't put a gay couple in one of his ads... a grey area. I understood what he was saying (it was a marketing decision, not a personal statement), and I wouldn't feel like serving his pasta was endorsing his ideas...

So. In the end, having three leftover slices of pie for breakfast has caused me to dither on in your comments section and come to absolutely no conclusion. Oh, except this one: sugar for breakfast is good but may kill brain cells. UGH.
Anonymous said…
I haven't followed the Card homosexuality flap that's been in the news lately. What I had heard surprised me, though-- I read Songmaster in high school, and I felt that the homosexual characters were portrayed sympathetically in that book. I remember the character who acted against that love as being one who committing a great wrong.

I wonder if his position has changed since he wrote Songmaster or if I wildly misinterpreted that book. It seems weird that he would write something that seemed so pro-homosexual if he's so 100% anti.
StephLove said…
I often react emotionally and inconsistently to this sort of thing. Noah read Ender's Game for school in 4th or 5th grade and I'd read it before that. We try to avoid PG-13 films, but I wouldn't object to him seeing it when he's a bit older.

The Chic-Fil-A thing is just visceral for me. I can't say I'm boycotting exactly because we're vegetarians and never went there before the controversy, but I went to a Christmas party last year at the house of the parents of one of J's friend and they served Chic-Fil-A and I just felt weird about it, weird to the extent of re-thinking my idea of making some friendship overtures to the mom in question. And I never did invite her out for coffee as I'd been planning.

Is it an art v. commerce thing? Do I give more leeway to artists? Food for thought.

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