Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Politics and Writing

(Cross-posted from my LJ)

On Facebook, I re-posted this article from the Guardian: http://www.guardian.co.uk/culture/2013/feb/11/dc-comics-homophobic-writer-superman which notes that Orson Scott Card has been hired by DC to write several issues of their Superman title.

I have surprisingly mixed feelings about this. Orson Scott Card has very destructive, hateful politics that include, among other things, an active hatred of *me* personally because I've happened to have fallen in love with someone of the same sex. Thus, I support efforts to boycott Card's writing in general (because money speaks, particularly in America), BUT I'm uneasy when people say he should never have been hired in the first place.

Card is, by all accounts, an odious person in terms of his political views, but that does not mean he shouldn't be offered gainful employment.

I don't know how writers write comic books. I get the sense of committees and long, pre-thought out storylines that have been hashed out in advance. Thus, I have to assume that DC Comics is aware of Card's politics and hired him, in fact, based on a proposed storyline for Superman. Card is (or has been) a very talented writer. I loved Ender's Game. There is also no mention in the article about what Card is planning to do with the character or plot of Superman and if his politics are going to figure in, I can see how people can and should be up in arms. But... if they're not? Doesn't he have a right to tell his story? I think he does, just as we have a right to judge it for what it *is* rather than the man behind it.

Someone said this would be clearer if the writer in question were a Holocaust denier, and I'm not so sure. People think all sorts of stupid, wrong, and actively hurtful things. I'm not sure that makes a difference about whether or not they'll tell a good story about a guy from another planet.... I'm just not sure. I think that it's VERY true that a writer's personal demons can surface when they write, sometimes utterly unconsciously. I also think that DC Comics has editors. Card has not, to my knowledge, been given carte blanche to write whatever he wants. I believe he's required, as much as any other writer hired by a company like DC, to stick within the established storyline/canon/universe Bible. I don't think that just because Card is at the helm Superman will suddenly be raised Mormom.

If that happens? Boycott the f*ck out of DC.

If he writes a good story? Well, then an a$$hole can write a good story.

Look, the guy hates ME and ALL MY FRIENDS, personally. I think that should have consequences and, frankly, it looks like it is given how many people seem to be suggesting that they will refuse to buy anything with his name on it. However, I think it's a dangerous thing when we start saying "people like that should never be hired." Because people 'like that' often end up being people 'like us' under difference circumstances.

To misquote the ACLU: I think the man is a wanker, but I support his right to be a wanker.

In similar news, my politics gets discussed in this new critical study: http://www.amazon.com/Cyberpunk-Women-Feminism-Science-Fiction/dp/0786466537

TBF, the author of this work is really focused on what the TEXT implies about what my politics are, and this is why I *get* why people are uneasy at the idea of Card writing an iconic figure like Superman. Politics leak out. If you have any kind of moral point to your story, your opinions on it tend to be expressed in one way or another. However, I think that this is a dicey line we walk as writers--I have characters espouse things I don't agree with all the time. The character of Deidre is squicked when Michael reveals himself to be bisexual and she can't cope with Page's fluid gender because she's a Catholic raised in a restrictive society. That's how she'd be and I have to be true to her character before my own views.

I was really struck by this while watching Downton Abbey last night (we'd recorded Sunday's episode.) The attitude nearly everyone had about Tom's sexuality is EXTRAORDINARILY modern, to the point that my suspenders started snapping. "He can't help the way he is," the Earl says at one point, and I was like, "Really? Quoting Lady Gaga now? Because at this point homosexuality was considered a disease! Not all lassiez faire, oh, they were born that way!" I liked this, of course, but I thought maybe they'll pulled their punches in a way that was out of character. I think it could have been horrifying powerful to let the hammer come down on Tom the way it probably really would have. It would also have forced a modern audience to sympathize with an odious character for something we now recognize as NOT HIS FAULT. It could have been really educational for the 'kids these days' to see just how CRUEL the fate of the 1920s queer really was.


Tyler Tork said...

For the modern audience of Downton Abbey, it probably would've needed a disclaimer inserted into the opening credits or something. If they have any doubts about how horrible it was, people could read about what happened to Alan Turing, and that was decades later.

Eleanor said...

I think DC made a serious mistake. By hiring Card -- a very loud spokesperson for homophobia -- they give the appearance of supporting homophobia; and they have made a lot of DC fans uneasy and angry.

The Mormon Church is huge and rich. Card can always find a job. I don't want him hired by any organization doing something I care about.

Imagine DC hiring a member of the KKK.