There is, ultimately, some portion of our lives that each of leads that is based entirely on what our most sincere desires are. This portion has nothing to do with our connection to others, or our understanding of our place in the world. This portion is always at the core of us, always will be, and motivates us to drive toward, and make every conceivable effort to bring to ground the things we ultimately want, so strongly, that we would classify them as needs. Our strongest wants, in this life, will not be denid, disciplined or held at bay for very long.
Ultimately, who we are, will come out in our words, deeds, connections, work and art.
It is this last that has been troubling me lately, as the release of “Ender’s Game” has placed me in an emotional bind. After Brave New World, Storm Front and Parable of the Sower, I dont know that I have been more impacted by a book than I was the first time I read Ender’s. I recall being very young, and feeling kind of smart and poorly connected, and thinking that I/we could still do amazing things.
I didnt think about that book from my childhood, for years, and then I learned more about Orson Scott Card’s politics, and found myself ina rather odd place. See, he is remarkably, unapologetically homophobic. Now, I wouldnt describe myself as an activitst for gay rights, but I’ve tried to live by the old “live and let live”, so his rather conservative stance on marriage and adoption rights troubled me.
How could the mind that gave us Ender, this brilliantly written child, in this wonderfully realized universe, be a homophobe? How can someone be a conservative sci-fi writer?
I’ve never been described as naive, but I was certainly shaken. More shaken than when the Fat Boys broke up. More shaken than when Patrick Ewing was traded.
I struggled with whether or not I should go see the film, knowing that he would benefit financially, and measured that alongside my enjoyment of his product, balanced against the backdrop of his politics. So i have had to examine how much separation I can personally create between the man and his politics. Can I appreciate and value his art, without reflecting upon the mind and attitude behind that art?
It has forced me to examine my stance on one of my favorite jazz artists, Miles Davis. While “Blue in Green” may be my single favorite piece of music, I can’t pretend that i don’t fully realize that Miles was abusive to all of the women in his life. Physically, emotionally, abusive. He neglected his children, but created these masterpieces. So ultimately, can/should I turn a blind eye to his personal demons and politics and engage in the only relationship i am honestly and full yallowed with him?
My only good answer is….it depends. I don’t reduce MLK in my mind as a revolutionary knowing that he was a philanderer, so why should Card be held to a different standard? I don’t reduce the genuis of Nas in my mind knowing that he was a degenerate drug dealer, so why is Card convicted?
I have no precise and scientific reason, but this ultimately feels different to me. We make the error of often attributing positive characteristics to creative people for no other reason than we enjoy how they make us feel. As in any other relationship, we know and value the warmth and intimacy. We believe they understand us. And we ultimately place them at a height that they are sure to fall from once we interact with their humanity.
The fault here, is not totally with them, as they have always been flawed humans. Orson Scott Card always had these politics, but didnt have the platform to espouse them. He had to consider what voicing his opinions would cost him in a career. He is a brilliant sci-fi writer, so should being a bigot put him out of business? He has made enough money at this point, that he can speak freely, and maybe that is what he ultimately wanted to be able to do. I just don’t know.
I apologize for not offering any solid ground for you to stand on emotionally, but this feels to me like a very fluid and moving target, so I’m just as unsettled. I can’t listen to Kanye the same knowing what i now know, I can’t read West the same with his recent rants against the President as the backdrop. I hope to be able to better reconcile my feelings about creators and creations, but ultimately, I don’t feel best fit to judge. Hopefully someone reading one of my books someday wont read this blog and decide against buying, but i realize personally, that I am willing to pay that price.
No one is all good, and no is all bad. What most artists teach us is that every one of our experiencesshapes us closer toward understanding the grey. Even the worst villain has what they may believe are sound motives. We cheer Superman, but Zod ultimately saw himself as a patriot. Darth Vader was insecure, scared and wanted to save his beloved. If we examine ourselves, we all see that we have made similar decisions with similar motives, and will do so again.
For the record, don’t put me on any high platform of praise, and never place a halo around my head. I’m no better than an anti-hero most days.