I refrained from commenting when the whole hoopla over DC hiring Orson Scott Card to write an issue of the upcoming Adventures of Superman first broke out. But the more I thought about it, the more the issue interested me, mostly because I realized I didn’t know how I felt about it. This is my way of mentally navigating through the social/moral/political implications of the situation.
For full disclosure, I liked Ender’s Game and its subsequent novels when I read them a few years ago on a big sci-fi kick. I admit, however, that I knew nothing of Card beyond his name on the cover and probably would have remained ignorant for years to come had it not been for this whole incident. Needless to say, it’s always a surprise to discover the more unsavory details of someone’s life, but while Card’s prejudices may be deplorable, I’m actually not sure all this upset is warranted.
Prejudiced or not, Card is a talented and powerful storyteller and Superman is a fantastic subject for stories. I personally would love to see what Card does with one of the most iconic fictional characters of all time. But does that interest trump the fact that to purchase and read one of Card’s stories would be allowing a person with objectionable viewpoints to make a living? If so, then does that mean we have to stop everyone from buying another copy of Ender’s Game or going to see its movie adaptation later this year?
Maybe the upset people are experiencing comes from the fact that this is Superman we’re talking about. This is a character who embodies compassion and goodwill towards all humanity; doesn’t it go against the spirit of Superman to allow someone who despises a major segment of humanity to handle him?
So how shall we deal with this Card we’ve been dealt? I’ll be honest: I don’t know the answers. But I do think that if Card had simply never expressed his views, then no one would have a problem with his writing for DC. He would be no better or worse a person either way, but at least he wouldn’t be stirring trouble by expressing himself. In a way, people are attacking Card and DC not necessarily because of Card’s views, but because he had the gall to express them. I’m not sure how I feel about that, either.
A bigoted cab driver can still drive you from Point A to Point B. A racist butcher can cut your side of beef as well as one who is not. The caramel macchiato served by your Muslim-hating barista tastes just as sweet. We wouldn’t refuse to patent a vaccine because the inventor thinks women were put on this Earth to slave to men. Their wrongful ideas can’t affect their work; they’re just ideas. But ideas are what stories are all about, so we have more reason to decry giving a storyteller a chance to sneak his own misguided perspectives into a medium that can reach a whole lot of people.
And that is where I think I can take a stand. I think most of us are intelligent folks. We can recognize something as racist, sexist, religiously intolerant, or homophobic. And we can respond in the most effective way possible: simply avoid it. I don’t think readers need to be protected and coddled by trying to prevent such invective from ever reaching their hands. I think we have a right to decide if we as individuals want the products from a bigot or not, particularly when that product has nothing to do with bigotry, as I expect Card’s Superman story will. So if people want to keep protesting DC, hoping to convince the publisher to give Card the boot they think he so deserves, go ahead; I just can’t say that I think it’s the most useful way for them to be using their time or promoting their ideals.
- Minhquan Nguyen
We have a pretty nice community here at WCBR. I trust you all to be polite in your responses, but no less passionate or thoughtful. And if you know me at all, you know I’m always willing to listen to a different point of view. Though it need not be said, the opinions I’ve expressed here are my own and do not reflect those of WCBR or its other writers.
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