Thursday, 11 July 2013

Author Agendas

The best advice I've seen to authors has been, "Don't bang on about politics, you'll alienate your potential audience."

Which is excellent advice. I really should take it some day.


(because there's always a but) What if the issue is something I feel strongly about and happens to be a bit political? Like ending world poverty. I think entrenched poverty is one of the most shameful things on the planet. Why are so many people in poverty, while a bare handful control all the assets?

It's a simple enough question, with massively complicated answers. I'm probably not the only one to feel this way. But it's one of those issues which can become a hobby horse and end up really annoying people who just want to enjoy a novel about a talking ferret.

I certainly don't imagine anyone would boycott my books because I'm such a 'small l' liberal who thinks teachers are awesome, vaccinations save lives, people should be treated with dignity and respect and we really did land on the moon.

Whoops, I've lost 50% of my potential audience.

BUT (again with the but!) I believe my beliefs advocate for a fairer society so we can help people. I don't know, maybe I'm off my tree. I do believe it's not possible for a person to go through life without an opinion.

However, what about when those opinions go way off the grid?

What if, for example, I was an award winning science fiction novelist and vocal member of a religious group who thought being gay was an affront to God and I became a spokesman for that group?

That's when I feel a writer crosses the line. I'm talking about Orson Scott Card here and the new films of his older novels, Enders Game. Groups are organising boycotts, wanting to send the message that if films based on his books tank at the box office, he won't earn money and they won't make any more of them. I don't think it's got to the burning books stage but that may come too.

Here's my feelings about Orson Scott Card. I'm horrified and sickened by what he's said and I feel terrible that he has dug himself into such a big hole. Many years ago I really enjoyed reading his novelisation of The Abyss. He made the characters so human and sympathetic. (I've never read the Enders Game books) I also thought his books about the writing craft, especially on developing character, were incredibly helpful in my early career.

Then I heard about what a rampant anti-gay crusader he was and I felt . . . dirty.

Now I don't want to see his film, or read any of his books, because some of that money I spend will go to him and potentially validate his position.

A position from which he hasn't moved. OSC has recently called for tolerance (oh the irony) of his intolerance.

Ender’s Game is set more than a century in the future and has nothing to do with political issues that did not exist when the book was written in 1984.With the recent Supreme Court ruling, the gay marriage issue becomes moot.  The Full Faith and Credit clause of the Constitution will, sooner or later, give legal force in every state to any marriage contract recognized by any other state.Now it will be interesting to see whether the victorious proponents of gay marriage will show tolerance toward those who disagreed with them when the issue was still in dispute.

It's not even close to saying sorry; he's trying to subvert history, and he's calling for people to treat him with the very same respect he has denied them.

In 1990, Card called for laws that ban consensual homosexual acts to "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." He no longer advocates this, and says that the 1990 stance must be seen in the context of the times (such laws were still deemed constitutional at the time) and the conservative Mormon audience to whom his essay was addressed. "[N]ow that the law has changed," Card states, "I have no interest in criminalizing homosexual acts and would never call for such a thing, any more than I wanted such laws enforced back when they were still on the books."[35]


So many people who don't share his views worked on his books and his film. I feel really badly for them. I hope they've already been paid, but what if their take or their future career is dependent on the box office?

It's a tough call. If you love his novels, then you may enjoy the movie of that novel. I don't think it's fair to say 'you support bigots' by liking his books or seeing a film based on his book. Just as you shouldn't be accused of having the IQ of room temperature for seeing an Adam Sandler movie. (Although, you know it makes sense).

I read Twilight and didn't give a toss about the Mormon themes within. It all went over my head. I also still adore the Narnia books, and I don't care that they're Christian allegories. Sure, they are really dated and my son got so bored during Prince Caspian that we stopped half way through. (The movies are better). I also LOVED Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy and didn't pick up any of his atheist leanings. Which I should have, but I loved the story so much it bounced off my brain. Maybe I read it too quickly?

The upshot is, we're all human and we can't help having opinions. I need to dial mine back, for sure. Just writing this blog piece is showcasing my opinions. Then again, when OSC's views are the polar opposite of mine . . . well, there are so many other books to read out there, I might read or watch something else instead.

The upshot is, your money, your choice.

I'm so crushed for time I won't get around to seeing Enders Game for ages. But some of that money will end up supporting OSC who really has brought this upon himself.

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