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film criticism by maryann johanson | since 1997

QOTD: Is Orson Scott Card the wrong person to write Superman stories?

Advocate cover gay Superman

Comic fans are angry. Vocal homophobe Orson Scott Card — Wired has a good summary of his outspoken anti-gay attitudes — has been hired by DC to write a Superman story. Elliott Serrano at Redeye explains why this is problematic:

Superman has always been about “Truth and Justice,” and the philosophies that Card espouses are antithetical to that. How can I – in good conscience – support someone who is now on the forefront of the Anti-LGBT movement? I view it the same as denying rights to people of color or religion. To me there is no difference.

(Of course, plenty of believers in “the American way” figure that includes shaming gays and lesbians and ensuring that they don’t “ruin” marriage for “decent” people.)

A petition has been organized to get DC to give Card the boot.

Science fiction writer David Gerrold — who is himself gay — has been weighing in on Facebook:

1) As odious as I find Orson Scott Card’s views on LGBT people, he has the constitutionally protected right to speak and publish those views. I will defend his right to embarrass himself in public. He has already self-marginalized himself to a great degree as the public outcry demonstrates.

2) Superman represents a moral ideal for all people. So I think it’s a bad decision for DC Comics to hire any author who does not understand that vision. But I will not endorse any petition that denies any artist a job because of his political beliefs. That is McCarthy-era blacklisting and that’s a can of worms that we really do not want to open.

3) I will not buy that Superman issue, nor will I buy any other book written by Orson Scott Card, because I do not want even the smallest fraction of my purchase price to end up supporting a cause I find detestable. Others have the same right. And they have the right to tell DC Comics that they will not purchase the issue.

The key point here is the second one. I take issue with the petition that demands that DC Comics fire OSC — or with any petition aimed at any writer. I think that’s a line too far.

I find Card’s anti-gay speech to be detestable. The answer to hate speech is more speech — honest speech, thoughtful speech, accurate speech, rational speech, compassionate speech.

Is Orson Scott Card the wrong person to write Superman stories? What was DC thinking when they hired him… or did they not realize just how big a backlash there would be?

ETA: Not sure I made myself perfectly clear. Apart from the free-speech issues, how can we expect a writer who appears not to be aligned with the Superman ethos to write an effective Superman tale?

Thanks for John for the heads-up.

(If you have a suggestion for a QOTD, feel free to email me. Responses to this QOTD sent by email will be ignored; please post your responses here.)

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