#SkipEndersGame: An Interview with Geeks OUT

I hope it’s not too name-droppy to say that the fine gentlemen of Geeks OUT are my buddies. It’s been incredible and inspirational to watch this organization, which exists to give a voice to the LGBTQ community within geek culture (among other things), start off as a fun, local NYC group. Now, they’ve received well-deserved national attention as they have called for a boycott of the new Ender’s Game movie (which comes out in November). The film is based on noted jerk-face, hate mongering, and homophobe Orson Scott Card’s book of the same title.

Before I was even aware that an Ender’s Game movie was going to be made, I was fairly well informed of Card’s stance on the LGBTQ community. If you have no knowledge of his views, click here and inform yourself. And it’s not just that he spouts of his mouth in a very dangerous manner (imagine being a gay or trans* youth reading one of his YA novels. Imagine how damaging it could be to know that a beloved YA author thinks you’re a national threat), he’s also a member of the National Organization for Marriage (NOM). As a librarian, it’s hard to figure out where I stand on his books. On the one hand, I want to protect my LGBTQ patrons and teen patrons in general. On the other hand, I know Card’s books have literary merit and I’m a staunchly anti-censorship (though, it should be clear that censorship and boycotting are two totally different beasts. Let’s not get that confused).

When it comes down to it, here’s how I feel: In the library, I must co-exist with Orson Scott Card’s books and his views. Even if they concern me. Even if I wonder if they’re harming my patrons. So yes, when it comes time to replace those Card paperbacks, I will re-order them. I’m not in charge of ordering DVDs for my library, but if I were, I’d have to purchase copies of this film. In my private, non-library life, I have no use for his books or his upcoming movie. Not a dime of mine will ever line this awful man’s pockets.

Enough of my views. I briefly interviewed Jono Jarrett of Geeks OUT. I believe that librarians need to be involved with this conversation (granted, I think librarians should be part of every conversation), and luckily, Jono was happy to oblige.

Ingrid Abrams: Why is the boycotting of Ender’s Game important to Geek culture, as well as LGBTQ culture?

Jono Jarrett:  I think the idea of standing up and making your voice heard is important for any culture, specially the youth who are still finding themselves the way both Geek and Queer are doing. Boycotting the Ender’s Game film is about understanding where your money goes in a real-world way; supporting him financially benefits the National Organization for Marriage and their extreme antigay agenda—is that where you want your money going? It’s important for both cultures to consider that question, because both cultures are heavily marketed towards, and as consumers our only real vote is our dollar.

Geek culture is up and down creativity, enthusiasm, imagination, and self-expression. How does supporting homophobia and antigay activism fit in there? Sounds pretty queer to me.
IA:   You’re calling for a boycott of the movie, but the movie is based on a well-known YA novel. People have very personal attachments to books (I would say more so than movies, but I’m biased). I know queer and straight people alike who grew up with Card’s books. Do you think there’s any way to reconcile fond feelings for Card’s stories with distaste for him as a human being?
JJ: I do. Our focus in Skip Ender’s Game is to keep our money out of Orson Scott Card’s and NOM’s hands. We’ve been telling people to support their local libraries to find his books and the movie’ll end up there, too. Many sci-fi fans found their way into speculative fiction and a love of reading through novels like Ender’s Game and this campaign isn’t about taking that away from anyone.
IA: I’ve been reading the comments on your Facebook page and articles on the topic. While many are positive, there are many upsetting opinions out there.  What do you say to those who call this boycott “censorship” or, less eloquently, being a “hater”?
JJ: I think the haters have far more to fear from their social studies teachers and civics professors because no one seems to understand what a boycott is. You’re no one in this game until someone tells you to “read the Constitution” as though they wrote it. We make the facts plain, again and again. It’s about our community making fully informed choices, not about censorship.
IA: Card recently stated that it would be “interesting to see whether the victorious proponents of gay marriage will show tolerance toward those who disagreed with them” (though, I should say, it’s hard to see those who have fought for marriage equality to be completely victorious. This country has a long, long way to go). I see this argument time and time again from homophobes, racists, sexists and the like. I find the notion of tolerating the intolerant to be frustrating and ridiculous at best. How do you choose to answer this?
JJ: Tolerating the intolerant is what most of us do most of the time. What I think will be interesting to see is how the intolerant behave now that they’re not winning anymore.

I’d like to thank Jono Jarrett, as well as fellow Geeks OUT-er Patrick Yacco, for taking the time to speak to me about Orson Scott Card and Ender’s Game. If you’re interested in reading more on the topic take a look here, here, and here. I’ve already pledged to #SkipEndersGame. If you want to as well, sign up here. While you’re at it, keep in touch with Geeks OUT on Facebook and Twitter. I always appreciate what they have to bring to the table. 

If you insist on watching his movie or reading his books, I ask you to take advantage of your local library. Wait for the DVD to come out and put it on hold if you really need to see Ender’s Game. Hate libraries? Well, you kinda suck. But if so, I’m sure you can troll your local thrift stores and/or raid your friends’ personal libraries for copies of his books.

So, librarians, where do you stand on boycotting Ender’s Game?

~Love and Libraries, Ingrid

4 thoughts on “#SkipEndersGame: An Interview with Geeks OUT

  1. J.

    “Censorship and Boycotting are two totally different beasts.”

    Well, kinda sorta. If boycotting takes the form of blogs and social media posts telling people not to go to the movie, then it is not censorship. However, if you stand outside the theater with signs and shouts to go away then you are involved in censorship by the form of making it uncomfortable for people to attend the movie.

    Imagine having a copy of the Kama Sutra in a prevalent place in your Library, but with spotlights and multiple video cameras trained on it with the feed displayed on multiple big screens about the building. Technically you’re providing the book for patrons, but as a practical matter, no one is going to check it out. Thus boycotting can easily become censorship.

    1. Boycotting vs. censorship: There’s your personal life and then there’s your life as a librarian. These are two separate things. So, in the library, I will make sure you have this book and/or DVD if you need it. I will treat OSC’s books like any other materials.
      In my private life, I want nothing to do with this man. Neither he, nor NOM, will get a cent from me.

  2. Skipping the movie and signed the pledge. Like you, as a librarian, if I have to get it for the library, then it will be done. But personally, I am not supporting the guy in any way, shape or form. At the moment, only reason I have a copy of Ender’s Game at home is I got a used copy from someone who was cleaning out house (they weeded a ton of old, scifi vintage books). The guy nor NOM are not getting any money from me, and I would urge others to follow.

    Best, and keep on blogging.

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