‘Superman’ controversy brewing at DC
In perhaps a move that caught them by surprise, DC Comics is facing some backlash from comic fans after they announced science fiction author Orson Scott Card had been commissioned to write a story for their Adventures of Superman series. Card, who is an award-winning and best-selling author of the Ender’s Game series, is also a long-time critic of homosexuality and has written and called gay marriage “the end of democracy in America.” In 2009, he became a board member of National Organization for Marriage (NOM), a group that campaigns against same-sex marriage.
For some, this is an odd move as DC has attempted to include LGBT characters in its superhero universe over the last half decade.
Card, a Mormon, was called out by Salon‘s Donna Minkowitz as a “disgustingly outspoken homophobe” after an interview in 2000. Said Card during the exchange with Minkowitz, “I find the comparison between civil rights based on race and supposed new rights being granted for what amounts to deviant behavior to be really kind of ridiculous. And the idea of ‘gay marriage’ — it’s hard to find a ridiculous enough comparison,” Per Minkowitz, Card added this little gem: “By the way, I’d really hate it if your piece wound up focusing on the old charge that I’m a homophobe.” Sadly, the irony of that statement was lost on him, when in 2004 he wrote: “[I]t is a flat lie to say that homosexuals are deprived of any civil right pertaining to marriage. To get those civil rights, all homosexuals have to do is find someone of the opposite sex willing to join them in marriage.” Then, in 2011 he published a version of Hamlet in which the prince’s father is a gay pedophile. Card wrote: “Old King Hamlet was an inadequate king because he was gay, an evil person because he was gay, and, ultimately, a demonic and ghostly father of lies who convinces young Hamlet to exact imaginary revenge on innocent people.” Publishers Weekly took him to task for that, saying Card’s focus on Hamlet’s father was “primarily on linking homosexuality with the life-destroying horrors of pedophilia, a focus most fans of possibly bisexual Shakespeare are unlikely to appreciate”.
Actor Michael Hartney -who describes himself as “as big a Superman fan as you’ll ever meet” – has written to DC voicing his concerns about Card. “If this was a Holocaust denier or a white supremacist, there would be no question. Hiring that writer would be an embarrassment to your company. Well, Card is an embarrassment to your company, DC. And of all the characters Card could have been hired to write, you give him Superman? The character that taught me to lead by example? To do the right thing, even when it was hard? To keep going, even when it seemed hopeless? What an insult. Kids are killing themselves. They are killing themselves in a climate of intolerance and homophobia publicly fostered by people like Orson Scott Card. You don’t have to contribute to this. You shouldn’t. You mustn’t.
Petition website,Allout.org, has started an appeal, calling for DC to drop Card.
But, while I’ve known the man to be a raging homophobe for a long, long time (working in the book business as long as I have, you learn these things) and refuse to buy or read any of his work, and felt dirty even talking about the film version of Ender’s Game due this November on DoorQ, but should he be denied work because he is a fucking, altogether, raging homophobe? And if so, what difference is this then, than the McCarthy witch hunts of 1950s?
The biggest impact readers of Superman can do with this issue -first in digital format, and then a physical comic- is to make it the poorest selling comic in DC’s line. But then I hear it already, from the collectors, those completest fans whom won’t skip an issue because…well, they can’t do just do that. The consumer ultimately makes the decision for the company selling the work, and if Card’s Superman story sells poorly, he’ll never be asked back.
And that is more of win than signing a petition, which I will admit, seems rather pointless here.
And while DC –which is owned by Warner Bros- has not released a statement, the other thing fans can do is impact the box office of The Man of Steel –though I admit that seems just as pointless. And this November, when Ender’s Game comes out, no matter what the reviews, don’t go and see it and make sure you friends and family are aware of the issue.
To me this a more viable protest than signing a petition.
We must stick firm to our beliefs as much as Card has stuck to his. Maybe this dust up will give pause to movie goers and comic book fans that have gay friends and family members. Card will always have fans –I’ve been telling readers for years about his horrid homophobia, and they just shrug and say they can read his work and ignore his politics. That is fine, even as I shake my head. I have hopes that if I can stop one reader, well, I’ve won and Orson Scott Card did not get a new reader.