South African director Gavin Hood has spoken out about a planned boycott of his new Hollywood film based on a book by anti-gay author Orson Scott Card.
The Johannesburg-born Hood rose to fame after he helmed the Oscar-winning Tsotsi (Best Foreign Language Film, 2005) as well as X-Men Origins: Wolverine. His new project is the sci-fi blockbuster Ender’s Game, which stars Harrison Ford.
There have been calls to boycott the film because it’s an adaptation of Card’s 1984 novel of the same name. The writer has campaigned against same-sex marriage and has backed the jailing of gay people.
Speaking to Advocate.com, Hood commented on the furore for the first time.
“It’s dreadfully ironic, he said. “Orson wrote a book about compassion, and empathy, and yet he himself is struggling to see that his position in real life is really at odds with his art.”
In June, a group called Geeks OUT said that “by pledging to skip Ender’s Game, we can send a clear and serious message to Card and those that do business with his brand of anti-gay activism – whatever he’s selling, we’re not buying”.
Hood said that he fully understands the position of those seeking a boycott. “However, he said, “let us have the conversation for what it is, which is that it’s so ironic that the themes and positions in the film are completely the opposite of what its author is now saying… I would far rather engage in a debate from an honest point of view, than have it suggest that audiences may stay away.”
The director also noted that many gay people could actually relate to the journey of the main character in the film.
“The story of Ender is really a young person in search of his identity and in search of his own moral compass. And so for me, it is so ironic that the writer of the work that has helped so many [young] people, gay and straight, to find empowerment, to feel empowered, to find their own moral compass — it’s very sad that he, himself, is struggling with these issues,” said Hood.
“But that doesn’t take away from the fact that in struggling with these issues, he wrote a great book. I think what would be far more helpful is if audiences knew that the makers of this film, and the film itself, holds the polar opposite point of view to the current thinking of Orson Scott Card on gay issues,” he added.
A practicing Mormon, Card sits on the board of the National Organisation for Marriage, which was created to lobby against gay marriage in the US.
In 1990, Card wrote: “Laws against homosexual behaviour should remain on the books, not to be indiscriminately enforced against anyone who happens to be caught violating them, but to be used when necessary to send a clear message that those who flagrantly violate society’s regulation of sexual behaviour cannot be permitted to remain as acceptable, equal citizens within that society.”
In 2009, he said that “Marriage has only one definition, and any government that attempts to change it is my mortal enemy. I will act to destroy that government and bring it down.”
Ender’s Game is set to be released in South Africa on December 6.