So, I received an email from Writer’s Digest (one of about 15 I receive in a day) advertising a guide to writing Science Fiction & Fantasy. Normally, I briefly scan these ads, then delete, but this time I actually opened the email. As I’m writing a Science Fiction novel right now, I thought I might take a look. When I saw that it was written by actual, successful Science Fiction & Fantasy authors, I decided to give it a try. I mean, it couldn’t hurt, and it might just give me some ideas I hadn’t thought to address in my novel.
So here’s my quick assessment. Yes, this novel knows its stuff. The authors are successful, and had some helpful and informative things to say about how to make your novels (really any novel) better. Of course, you’re going to have to wade through a hell of a lot of talk, talk, talk, about whatever they feel like saying (kind of like my blog posts!) but you will get nuggets of information.
But then I posted on AW that I was reading said book, and the response was not what I expected. It was all about the main author, Orson Scott Card. I knew he had written Ender’s Game, among many other successful novels, but I didn’t know anything else about him. “He sickens me as a human being,” was the nicest thing said. “Grade-A douchebag,” was probably my favorite. So, of course, I asked, “What’s the deal?” and they told me, via a few internet articles on the guy.
ORSON SCOTT CARD WANTS YOU TO FORGET HOW MUCH HE HATES GAYS on Epsilon Clue
10 Homophobic Quotes by Orson Scott Card, Author of “Ender’s Game” on VerbicideMagazine.com
Orson Scott Card’s long history of homophobia on Salon.com
Okay, so whether you were already aware of OSC’s feelings on the subject, or whether you read the articles I supplied, let’s move on. What does this mean for you (or me) as the consumer of his art? And I call it art, because, let’s face it, no matter how much I might abhor his beliefs, he is an award winning, best selling, prolific author. It’s not like any of us can sit here and say he’s not good at what he does.
Admittedly, I haven’t read any of his works of fiction. I only just recently heard about the Ender’s Game series, and only because the movie was coming out. I thought the movie looked intriguing, and the books were described as some of the best YA books ever written. They were now on my radar, but I wasn’t rushing to consume the media. Eventually, I did see Ender’s Game, the movie. I think it was on HBO, and I did enjoy it. Good story with an interesting concept, if a little see-thru in how it would end. But I wasn’t so enthralled that I ran right out to read the books. Still in the mental TBR pile, I figured I would get to them in due time.
But now, I have no desire to read the books. And I’m only 21% into Writing Fantasy & Science Fiction and I’m pretty much bored with it too. Reading something that is created by a human who has such awful thoughts and views is abhorrent to me. I would no sooner have read Gone With the Wind or A Tale of Two Cities or The Fault in Our Stars had they been written by Hitler. (Yes, Hitler is the God-awful measuring stick we use for all cretins in society!) Newt Gingrich and his wife, Callista, have written books I will never read. Bill O’Reilly writes books all the time, but I won’t buy them. (Okay, that one time for my dad.) And it’s not that Bill, Newt, or Callista are awful human beings (they may be, I don’t know) it’s that my political beliefs are so strongly different than theirs, that I don’t want to contribute to them financially by buying said books, or in a confidence factor that tells them their beliefs are upheld by those who read what they have written. Even if their books have no political motivation, I just don’t want to contribute to them in anyway. And to be clear, if someone purchased one of these books for me or my children I wouldn’t throw it at the giver and scream I won’t read it. Depending on the book, I might read it, but I wouldn’t seek them out of my own accord.
And what would I do if I found out Susanne Collins was racist? Would I still go see Mockingjay Part II? I’ve invested years into my HG love, so it would take something pretty horrific to stop me from seeing the culmination. But I don’t know. The enjoyment of anything created by someone who would believe racist thoughts would be seriously compromised, and I wouldn’t want to support them in any way. Or what if John Green was revealed to hate Muslims? I’ve only read two of his books, and loved them! Would I deny myself the pleasure of reading others? On this one, probably yeah. Even though it would hurt, but it would never hurt as much as that trust that is broken. The one where you think someone you admire is a good person and they prove you wrong.
DISCLAIMER: Neither John Green nor Susanne Collins is a racist, bigot or prejudice in any way. At least that I know of. Just using them as an example!
So where does that leave me? I may peck away at Writing Fantasy & Science Fiction. I’ve already paid for it, and I may learn something, but I won’t be reading any of OSC’s other books. And I unsubscribed from Writer’s Digest emails. Mostly because if they associate with someone who has such strong beliefs contrary to what I believe, then I don’t want to give them my patronage, but also because those many, many emails are simply annoying.
I guess this makes me a semi-hypocrite. Will I turn my back on every creator of anything that doesn’t agree with my beliefs? No. Everyone is entitled to their opinions, and I have plenty of conservative Republican friends and family. In fact, sometimes I feel very alone in my liberalism, but they all have value. And so do their beliefs and opinions. But if I can consciously use my dollars and time to counteract poisonous beliefs, then I will. Which is why you will never see me in a Chik-fil-a. (Yet I still can’t resist Hobby Lobby.) Though I won’t go on a witch hunt to expose the beliefs of the people behind every book I read, movie I watch, food I eat, etc., if I have an opportunity to make my sentiments known, I will.
So what do you think? Does knowing an author has beliefs that are strongly against your own cause you to not read their work? How far away from your own beliefs does a person have to be to elicit this response? Or should we keep our opinions about a person’s moral values separate from our opinions about their art?