Attending University was a long-term goal of mine, as soon as I understood what one was I knew I would be going to one. When the time came to pick a degree I think my parents were secretly hoping I would pick something ‘useful’ like Maths, but being the mind dwelling creature that I am I chose the theoretical over the practical – Cultural and Historical Studies was a studious mash-up of Philosophy, History, Cultural Studies and due to the way I took my degree, Literature.
I love analysing books and while I am not always spectacular at it I find it an interesting aspects of reading.
Which is where loving or loathing a book/author can become problematic; any long-term readers will have noticed that Ender’s Game is one of my favourite books and any awareness of the media at the moment will have let you know the author – Orson Scott Card – is one abhorrent human being.
Until the production of the film, I had no idea Orson Scott Card was a Homophobe and all around ass-hat. Ender’s Game blew my mind, I loved it, I breathed it in, but I can’t help but wonder what it is teaching me when its author has such extreme views and if it is okay to love a book written by such a man.
Can I love a book and hate the author?
It would be difficult for anyone to argue that there are no anti-homosexual elements in Ender’s Game; for example, there is a strong emphasis on male ‘heterosexual’ power and the weakness of anything that is not. Women are a minority in battle school, any form of emotion is seen as weak and should any emotion be experienced the women will comfort the man – an example of this is Valentine being brought in to support Ender as he faces his most difficult tasks. Here emotion and weakness – femininity – is attributed to being un-heterosexual, thus anything other than heterosexual elements in a male can be seen as homosexual. Valentine is rejected from Battle School due to her compassion, a womanly trait, and Ender – the wildcard – slowly sheds the ‘weaknesses’ that adversely affected his relationship with older brother Peter, to become the champion. Even Peter is not punished for his ruthless ambition, he becomes leader of the free world. Petra, one of the few girls in battle school is identified as having masculine traits – how else would she have got into battle school?
Due to the mostly male cast I would say that it is being gay here that is being attacked, as opposed to Lesbian, Bisexual or Transgender – which I am positive Card does not approve of either. As a homophobic man, I would guess that this is the sexuality he finds most threaten to his own.
You could suggest that I am reading into the text, however, I do not see how – as a strongly right-wing individual – Card’s views could not have been layered into his work. Of the people I have interacted with whom have been homophobic or uncomfortable with homosexuality, there is a tendency to strongly enforce or defend gender roles; boys must be sporty, strong protectors and women emotional carers. Messages are not always placed in the text intentionally, it would be impossible for an author to disconnect from their text enough for their subconscious not to imprint on their work.
In conclusion, if I understand all of this, is it then okay to love the book? I thoroughly enjoyed reading it, but I can’t say I enjoy the message it is sending out.