12 comments on “To Boycott Or Not To Boycott

  1. I just read this article a few days ago which expounds on this same theme……I tend to think of this as “throwing out the baby with the bath water” Syndrome.

    http://www.theguardian.com/culture/2013/nov/20/wagner-dilemma-hate-bigotry-love-music

    ” …..Is it simply a matter of taking action on the issues that touch us personally while reserving a lower level of outrage for issues that, while every bit as grievous, only affect others? Isn’t that just selfishness?”…..

    As far as the above, if we were all to take action on every issue where outrage was due, we’d all go stark raving mad or at the very least, have no time for anything else in life. You can’t live your life protesting and consternating over every slight ever made against a group/person that has occupied this Earth. You have to pick your battles and not try to win all the wars….otherwise you dissipate your energies and accomplish nothing.
    And just where did this concept that selfishness is a BAD thing come from anyway? lol

    Nice food for thought tho.

  2. There is one apparent error in your post: Card sold the rights to the movie years ago, that wasn’t unusual “back in the day” when you made your money when you could, not knowing if anyone would ever want to leverage the rights for a movie. And a clarification: he is also only an “honorary” producer, with no influence on its actual production, nor pay for the title (this from the studio that made the movie). Therefore, apart from celebrity, he is unlikely to have gained monetarily from the movie.

    I went to see the movie, mostly because I love the book. There is certainly no homophobia in the book, quite the opposite. There is a continuing litany of compassion, and understanding, as well as bullying, power structures, and pushing genius children to higher achievement in an environment that borders on child abuse.

    I took a course in science fiction in college. Card is certainly more than “popular culture”. His work is included in the same breath as Asimov, Pohl, Niven, Le Guin, Herbert, and many others whose works we know. For that reason, I originally read the book, long before I knew anything about Card’s personal views on homosexuality.

    I don’t think boycotts of this type work, particularly in the overall scheme of things. Lionsgate responded to the call for a boycott by laying it out on the table: if the movie doesn’t make money, it affects Card not in the least. But it tells several hundred people, in one of the most accepting industries in the country, that their work isn’t worthy of viewing due to someone’s views whom they’ll never meet.

    I have no basis of comparison for Wagner near Phoenix, nor any guess as to why seats are empty. Are that many more empty than at other operas? Are other operas sell outs? Sometimes the perception is the reality.

    Ender’s Game was the top of the charts for at least one week. I doubt that Card’s homophobia kept that many away given the money the movie has made.

    Playing Devil’s Advocate a bit, I guess.

    Peace ❤
    Jay

    • Thanks for reading/commenting.

      I didn’t critique the book. I’ll defer to your better-informed opinion on that since you’ve read it. I think you know the genre better than I do as well. Whether it extends beyond the scope of popular culture only time will tell. It is subjective but I have my doubts that it will be part of the cultural landscape 150 yrs from now as Wagner is; that was my point.

      I’ll stand by my comments about financial gain. I also read the distributor’s comments that the film rights for the book were sold outright and that his producer credit has no ‘back-end’ profit participation. I also know they have re-printed the book with the film poster as it’s cover and that the release of the film will boost sales of the book itself. Selling the film rights does not take away his royalties from book sales. If the film is successful that can be significant for whole series of books. If the film is a hit, it could lead to sequels. I think there are 4 more books in that series? I know the whole series is being marketed as a boxed set just in time for Christmas; a month after the release of the movie. I don’t think it is an error to say the author will benefit financially from any success of this film despite not getting any money from ticket sales.

      All that said, I was not proselytizing for a boycott in my post. That isn’t what I was trying to write about. If you see it I hope you enjoy it.

  3. Yet another well written and thoughtful post. I feel much as you do about Wagner. While I despise his anti-semitism I would not boycott his works. However, I will never see another Mel Gibson movie again because of his homophobic remarks and attitude. Just as I would never see any production (if they had one) from the Westboro Baptist Church. Perhaps it DOES have something to do with whose ox is being gored. I am not Jewish but I sympathize with them but I am gay and I will not tolerate homophobia in any form nor will I support of spend one penny supporting a homophobe either directly or indirectly.

    Thank you for this thought provoking post even if it did leave me questioning my actions.

    Ron

  4. Now this is a difficult question you raise about boycott. For Wagner he lived in a very different world, that of the Romantics, and died some 50 years before Nazism ideology came to the fore. Also that Ideology was the work of one man who developed the theme and blame Jews for all kinds of evil in a Europe who often after the First World War and the overthrow of Empires were seen as supporters of Communism. To associate Wagner to the Holocaust is really a stretch, he might have not liked Jews but I have real doubts about him endorsing the final solution. He was an educated man and that scheme was a criminal one that would surely have horrified him. So I cannot explain why Wagner is not popular in Phoenix, it could be that culturally speaking people prefer lighter theme music.

    As for the other theme of boycott in general, I find that trend to be a new phenomena that came about with the 1960’s and the protest movement. Today you have people who are one issue people and will get on the soapbox if their issue of choice comes about. I do find that very tiresome, Canada has lots of people who are constantly agitating for this or that boycott because of this or that point of view offends them.
    My position is that if something offends me I stay away from it but I will not make a speech about it.
    As for authors or public figure if they say something stupid, which is often the case, I will consider what they are saying and then decide for myself what to do about it. BUT I do accept the fact that there are many things in this world which are unpleasant and I cannot change them despite my personal views. So I think we have to be modest enough to accept that fact. One person cannot change the world.
    Strive for the positive and take the high road, by-pass the rest.

  5. Attitudes towards the Wagner operas is an endlessly intriguing subject which can never be resolved in a way that convinces the other side that they are ‘wrong’, which would hardly be a ‘resolution’ at all. I think all one can do is to make one’s own decision and do what one feels most comfortable with, even though there will probably be inconsistencies within one’s own actions, and even varying from one day to the next. As you appear to infer in your article, consistency is a fluid concept. Trying to define and rigidly stick to the boundaries as so delineated is futile because being inconsistent is part of the human condition, much as though we may wish it were otherwise.

    ‘Ender’s Game’ has been and gone here, and though I was aware of the controversy (must admit I’d never heard of the author before then) I didn’t go for the reason that it didn’t appeal to me. If the subject matter had done so I would have seen it.

    I’m currently reading an Ernest Hemingway, (‘Across the River and Into the Trees’), a writer I must admit I’ve never been overly keen, mostly based on his writing style. But all the while hanging over my reading like a spectre is not only his much-discussed homophobia (was it a cover, etc?) but his enthusiasm for the gruesome spectacle of bullfighting. Try as I might I can’t divorce these aspects of his life from the novel as I read it, though I wish I could, and read it as pure literature. Without trying to advocate an equivalence between degrading and even murderous treatment of animals and humans, my perspective is similar as to that why some people can’t listen to Wagner without his unpalatable ‘ghosts’ hovering around. I actually can, though I don’t exactly feel ‘proud’ in declaring it.

    • Thanks for the nsightful comment. I have not read much Hemimgway. As you say his style is distinctive and a little spare to my taste. Also, at least for people of my age or older, his personality came to be larger even than his writing.

      I’ve read books by people who were pretty unsavory; even excerpts from Mein Kampf in college. Of course most of the time we have no idea what a writer’s opinions may be when we read their work. Their was a time when I read a lot of Tom Clancy who was also pretty homophobic.

      I think you’re right about consistency. It is aspirational at best.

  6. It is a long time dilemma: can we allow ourselves the beauty of the art when it comes from a vile artist? I tend to ‘go for it’ when the art is beautiful and discard the artist. It’s a bit zany. However the apotheosis of Wagner’s music is something I can’t do without.

  7. I found out that Wagner has of course a large family who still run the Bayreuth Festival and the Museum etc… They still collect royalties on his work to this day. I disagree with Dr. Spo, I would not say that Wagner was vile, he was a man of his time in the context of that era. It was a very different world and in many ways incomprehensible to us moderns.

    • Interesting info. I knew the Wagner family heirs ran the Festival and would have income from that. I was not aware that the works themselves were not in public domain yet. He’s been dead more than a century. Idle curiosity but I wonder whether that varies from country to country.

      In fairness to the good Dr. Spo, I suspect his choice of words calling him vile was just mirroring the language in my post where I described him using that term.

      I agree with you, in principle, that it is unfair to judge people outside the context of the time in which they lived. The virulence of Wagner’s anti-Semitism was extraordinary even by 19th century standards.

      I worry that it can become too easy to discount the darker aspects of history by applying a relativity standard. 17th, 18th, and 19th century Americans grew up in a context where their attitudes about Native Americans were the standard of the day. I can’t bring myself to give them a pass on how wrong they were.

      I doubt RW is resting too uneasily in his grave for wont of my approval; but I think I will withhold it all the same.

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