When An Author’s Political Beliefs Make You Angry…
I usually get annoyed when the political opinions of celebrities (like actors/actresses or singers) make the news. However, I don’t mind when authors write about their political beliefs because they’re writers, and writers usually are better at expressing their opinions. When Stephen King wrote a long essay about gun control (titled Guns), I didn’t get annoyed that he wrote about a political issue; I got annoyed that he charged money for it (not a lot of money, but still…).
Orson Scott Card (author of Ender’s Game and a bunch of related science fiction books) has written some political stuff that isn’t flattering to President Obama and the people who helped him get elected. The essays (here and here) were written months ago, but are now getting media attention because Ender’s Game the movie is being released soon. From the articles and comments sections, it sounds like potential viewers who might have otherwise gone to Ender’s Game the movie won’t because of Card’s political writing.
Orson Scott Card’s political commentaries are on a blog/website called ornery.com (at least that’s where I read them). When you read from a site called ornery.com, you know you’re not going to get rational debate. You can’t get even get rational debate at rationaldebate.com. I went to rationaldebate.com in search of rational debate, and it was just a bunch of people calling each other racists and fascists/communists.
There’s nothing new with science fiction being political. Great science fiction usually isn’t about the science. Sometimes it’s about how the science affects people. Sometimes it’s about how people deal with future (usually dystopian) societies. Card was using his essay to explain how a dystopian society could happen if today’s trends continued (based on current and some possible future government policies), but maybe an essay wasn’t the best way to do this.
Now a bunch of people will probably boycott Ender’s Game and refuse to read the book. Orson Scott Card probably doesn’t care. He’s made his money (and he’s ornery), but everybody else involved with the movie is probably freaking out. From their point of view, you write the inflammatory political commentary after the movie is released, not before it.
Card invoked Hitler in his essay, and even though he doesn’t directly compare President Obama to Hitler (the point Card was making is kind of complicated, and I’m not going to try explaining it because it would take too long and that’s not the purpose of my blog), invoking Hitler automatically turns me (and a bunch of other people) off. I don’t like it when any politician in the United States is compared to Hitler (even though that wasn’t what Card was doing). I’m not even sure that Hitler was compared to Hitler, which pisses me off because if any politician should have been compared to Hitler, it was Hitler. I wonder who angry voters compared politicians to before Hitler.
I don’t care if an author disagrees with me politically. I don’t even care if the author who disagrees with me is vocal about it. But I do care if the author expresses his/her opinion in an obnoxious way. It’s tough for me to define “obnoxious” because my own biases seem to get in the way (even when I’m aware of them). Maybe I’ll write about what makes political expression “obnoxious” once I’ve had more time to think about it.
Even though Orson Scott Card doesn’t really compare President Obama to Hitler, I can see why the tone and content of the blog post could still tick people off. And that might keep people who would otherwise read his books from reading his books (or going to see the Ender’s Game movie).
So I’m not asking if you agree or disagree with Card (because that’s not what my blog is about), or if you’re offended by what he wrote (unless you’re referring to his novels because a few of them aren’t very good). Here’s what I’m asking:
If an author’s political beliefs tick you off, do you stop reading that author’s books?