Artists, Art & Politics (Or, Orson Scott Card is a Hater)

In the wake of the first teasers of the Ender’s Game movie adaptation, Geeks OUT and many others are calling for a boycott.

Orson Scott Card is anti-gay. He has made many public statements expressing this view, and most notably is a member of the National Organization for Marriage, an organization that fought against the legalization of gay marriage.

The situation begs the question, should we dismiss the art just because the artist is flawed? 

This is a question I wrestle with a lot. Because here’s the thing. Once I go down the road of writing off one artist’s work for their political opinions, I quickly fall down the rabbit hole of worrying who else I should be boycotting and just don’t know it yet. Then I wonder, should I be researching authors, directors, actors, any other artist before paying to enjoy their work?

The reality is, this is a task I simply don’t have the capacity for. And, seeing as we all have varying opinions on just about everything, I could probably find a point of disagreement for just about anyone. Is prejudice a bigger issue than how to butter toast? Of course. But where’s the line in between?

Perhaps, when someone takes their opinions as public as Card has, this judgement is more legitimate. His personal brand advocating ignorance and close-mindedness is not one I would like to be associated with. Nor would I act in any way that would make him think I support those attitudes.

All the same, I don’t plan to boycott. 

The very principle that allows someone like Orson Scott Card to voice his offensive opinions is also the one that protects the art. It’s two sides of the same coin. And that goes for all of us artists out there–do you want to feel safe putting your work out there? I’d rather err on the side of fostering an environment that agrees to disagree, rather than one that recoils from interaction altogether because they clash on an issue (even an important one).

Every one of us has both light and dark in us. Do we really discount the light because of the dark? That makes for an awfully bleak world.

What’s more, I don’t see a boycott changing Card’s views or actions. Nor do I think anyone involved with the movie would interpret the purchase of a ticket to Ender’s Game as a vote in favor of Card’s views (not without outside parties politicizing it, at least).

I completely understand why some would not want to give their money to a person like Card. I can hear the arguments against mine even as I’m writing them. But, for me, for now, this is where I land.

What do you think–should an artist’s personal opinions affect your support of his or her art?

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One thought on “Artists, Art & Politics (Or, Orson Scott Card is a Hater)

  1. I don’t boycott anything artistic because of the artist’s politics but it does color my perception of their work. I mean, no matter how much of an opera fan you might be could you hear Wagner without thinking of the Nazis? In principle I’m against such boycotts but I’ve come to realize it’s not always so easy to do in practice.

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