If you had told me five years ago that Orson Scott Card's incredible novel Ender's Game was finally going to be made into a big budget Hollywood blockbuster ensuring that children all over the world would bask in its brilliant story I would have gone to my knees in thanks for such news. I was a less cynical man then. Being older, I now dread this film for the horrible things it's going to be instilling in the minds of today's youth.
In the book, children are recruited into the military in order to train them day and night against an alien menace that almost destroyed the Earth the last time they were seen. Only the brightest and best are chosen for service, regardless of their areas of giftedness.
This means that every single child of exceptional intelligence is recruited into the military, which is usually fine with the children since they're indoctrinated from a young age that military service is the only worthwhile contribution someone can really make. Everything revolves around it.
What's weird about that is that once they enter service, they effectively disappear. Letters that the children write are never delivered, and letters sent to them are burned before they reach the recipients. They don't get a single leave of duty until age 16, five years after the average enrollment age. What's more, in the book it's revealed that Earth believes an entire fleet is stationed in the solar system defending the planet when in fact they've been in warp drive to attack the alien bases in some cases for as much as twenty years.
To recap, the military rules completely, takes all the promising kids, and never tells anyone what they're doing with them.
Conflict and Murder are The Best Solutions to All Problems
Ender kills two children in the course of the book. Admittedly, both were bullies who were looking to beat him up, but he didn't just fight back. He put them in body bags with cold, precise calculation.
No one so much as slaps him on the wrist, and for the first one the action is actually what prompts his acceptance into the military. See, the brass wants to annihilate the alien menace completely, despite the fact that they fled after the first war and have never been seen since. This explains the psychological tactics the teachers use at the school to encourage all the children to solve every single conflict with battle and hopefully decisive victory.
At almost no stage is negotiation or diplomacy used, and while there are hints in the novel that the lack of this is a bad thing, and Ender knows it, he still continues as a machine bent on winning without offering a single chance of mercy.
Kids in Ender's Game are outfitted with monitors that oversee every aspect of their lives until they're removed by age 11. The monitors see through their eyes, and measure different areas of aptitude to judge who will be the best soldier.
Only two things happen after monitors are removed. Either kids are selected, or they're not. If they are, they go to training. If they're not, they're usually the target of severe bullying by their equally bitter peers. Despite the fact that authorities clearly know this happens, they give absolutely zero fucks about this.
They even overlook the clearly murderous and psychopathic tendencies of Ender's older brother Peter, and know that he skins animals alive and regularly threatens to murder his siblings. Doesn't matter. After you're past recruitment age you're on your own.
Speaking of Peter and Ender's sister Valentine, they are quite busy throughout the course of the novel trying to take over the world. They know that this is hard since they are teenagers, but they devise a cunning plan. They'll post political rants anonymously on the Internet until they've gained enough respect and power to overthrow the government and replace it with themselves.
Let me repeat that... their plan, disguised with the usernames Locke and Demosthenes, is to violently inflame people with political rhetoric until everyone suddenly declares them rulers of the Earth. They are every first-year college student who knows they have the answers to all the world's problems and if only the old squares would listen to them it will all work out fine.
And it does. Peter eventually rises to supreme executive power, mostly by setting up Valentine as the more radical personality and himself as a moderating influence, then having Valentine suddenly join him in support during a time of heavy political crisis. Do we really want to encourage people to be more pompous and politically smug on the internet?
We Believe Local Journalism is Critical to the Life of a City
Engaging with our readers is essential to the mission of the Houston Press. Make a financial contribution or sign up for a newsletter, and help us keep telling Houston’s stories with no paywalls.
Support Our Journalism
I've covered this before, but it bears repeating. Card is a raging homophobic assclown who believes that America should rise up violently and overthrow the government for any hint of support of same-sex marriage. This despite the fact that a large part of Ender's Game is the single gayest thing that I have ever read.
Now, the book has sold millions, and likely Card has already cashed his giant novelty check for the selling of the rights to Summit. You could argue that going to see the movie no longer supports him or gains him any more cash and it wouldn't do any harm, and hell you may be right.
I will not put one cent of my money in his pocket no matter how awesome an author he is. Some people are just too loathsome for their talent to justify. Card is one of them, and I'll be damned if I pass onto my daughter that douchebags get to ride off into the sunset with a trunk full of money.