Friday, November 1, 2013

Ender's Games

The movie Ender's Game is coming out tomorrow. I won't be going to see it tomorrow or, I think, at any time. Perhaps on cable or netflix someday. I wrote a piece on it this summer, linking Orson Scott Card's anti-gay rhetoric to the terrible things happening right now in Russia. Rhetoric is not empty. Action, sponsorship, public writing - these things have consequences. Card wants to avoid them.

I'm concerned not about direct money going from the box office to the author, but how we parse what happens next. Like it or not, a big box office may result in a narrative that someone like Orson Scott Card can take the most objectionable positions in public, can spend money on homophobic activity, and then escape consequence. That's not a narrative I want to see.

I understand there are alternative narratives possible.

Meanwhile, here's a problem that has nothing to do with Card - it glorifies the child soldier.

The problem I have with the movie has to do with the entire concept of child soldiers. Though it makes some gestures towards the idea that Ender is going through a psychological wringer, primarily by portraying him as a target of bullying who knows that his only way out is an even more vicious show of retaliatory force, and to a lesser extent by Viola Davis’s Major Anderson character agonizing over what’s happening to Ender, his military education is still a fairly antiseptic, sanitized environment. The zero-gravity war games aren’t a source of tension; instead, they’re presented as exhilarating, practically fun. There’s even a bit where Asa Butterfield, as Ender, floats through his enemies in slow motion with a gun in each hand, firing away John Woo-style as the music swells. It’s a moment that feels completely at odds with the dark vision of the novel—basically, reducing Ender’s military training to Space Quidditch.
So, yeah, that's more typical. The depth of a book is lost beside the action sequences.

Enjoy the movie everyone going!

2 comments:

David Wilford said...

Maybe the director's point is to discomfit the audience with a spectacular vision of a child killer on cosmic scale. I'm reminded of Verhoeven's Starship Troopers and how he played off the fascistic elements of Heinlein's novel.

David Perry said...

That could be the point. The author, who has seen the movie, thinks it's more to make the game cool. Like Quidditch.