People are calling to boycott Ender’s Game over the author’s homophobia; we’re calling to boycott it to end Young Adult cinema.
Ender’s Game has already gained considerable controversy from GLAAD (the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation) calling for a boycott due to the homophobic views expressed by author Orson Scott Card. (The articles he wrote did come out in 1990 and 2000 and people do change; I’m not going to call it.) GLAAD want people to not go to the cinema, purchase on DVD or VOD, and ignore all the merchandise relating to Ender’s Game. They’re hoping this will ensure Ender’s Game doesn’t become another literary series made into a cinematic franchise, complete with merchandise, corporate tie-ins and other typically evil Hollywood endeavours, therefore making the author a lot of money.
Now, if you wish to boycott Ender’s Game for that reason, then by all means do so. But I’m here to give you a simpler reason to boycott the film: it’s dull, Ben Kingsley needs a better agent and it’ll help end this YA (Young Adult) fad.
Within the first 30 minutes, it becomes abundantly clear that Ender’s Game is a diet Starship Troopers
Within the first 30 minutes, it becomes abundantly clear that Ender’s Game is a diet Starship Troopers. There’s the militant state, a fascist regime, giant alien bugs and a twist ending. Only these are skimmed over very lightly, making it a strange viewing experience. Early on it is established the state can do whatever they want, as explained by Harrison Ford’s Colonel Graff: “There is nothing you can do.” Ender’s Game begins strongly to convey an unapologetic authoritarian character knowing the state has complete control over its citizens, but it quickly withers as soon as it flirts with the idea. The issue is never raised again nor properly questioned and it leaves one unsatisfied.
You may have noticed in the film’s trailer that Ben Kingsley has war paint on his face. Well, he’s actually portraying a half-Maori New Zealander named Mazer Rackham. Besides the questionable accent, there is one pertinent issue – why does the film draw attention to this? Does the movie draw comparisons between the Maori culture and what’s occurring in this fascist state? No; it’s just there and it feels cheaply unnecessary. If the populace of this universe were individuals from various races and creeds, then this would, in theory, emphasise a fully integrated multi-cultural society. Only, by having background exposition delivered by Kingsley, it means that it hasn’t, otherwise he wouldn’t feel it necessary to explain his cultural origin. I suppose Orson Card didn’t want to come across as completely narrow-minded, so he threw the character in.
Most YA movies are awful, hence why the mediocre Hunger Games earned higher critical acclaim than it deserved – it was simply better than the rest
This YA fad must either end or have a designated space in the movie calendar. Blockbusters are in the summer and the Oscar baiting is in the fall/winter – let’s have YA movies taking the dry January-March part. Most of these movies earn poor-to-mediocre critical responses. Hence why the mediocre Hunger Games earned higher critical acclaim than it deserved – it was simply better than the rest. YA must tread this line between mature content and kid-friendly accessibility, and what one is left with is a feeling of being short-changed by both. Ender’s Game is yet another YA example that attempts both but excels at neither, resulting in a dull instalment in a fad that needn’t be.
Aside from Orson Scott Card’s homophobia, there are other, less politically motivated reasons to boycott Ender’s Game – it’s simply a rather boring film from a studio that desperately wants to create another cinematic franchise. Don’t encourage them.
All images: Summit Entertainment/Lionsgate