Talent vs. Character

While I was reading Ender’s Game (as chronicled in my previous post), a friend informed me that the author, Orson Scott Card, was an active opponent of same-sex marriage.  Though I’m not gay, I support gay rights.  So when I heard this, I was torn: I was in awe of Card’s undeniable talent, but I was repulsed by his bigoted actions.

And Orson Scott Card isn’t my only “Talent vs. Character” dilemma.  I like some of Woody Allen’s films, but I think he’s a dirtbag for marrying a woman who was virtually his adopted daughter.

So what do I do?  Do I picket Orson Scott Card’s house?  Do I create www.woodyisadirtbag.com?

As it turns out, I resorted to nothing so grandiose: I decided not to support their actions with my money.  A simple financial boycott of their talent.

But who am I really hurting with my boycott?  I don’t get to read Speaker for the Dead (the highly-praised sequel to Ender’s Game), while Orson Scott Card loses only a couple of dollars in royalties.  I don’t get to experience a Woody Allen movie, while the filmmaker is only deprived of a single ticket sale.

Well, I’m not above bending the rules a bit.  The same friend who told me about Card’s intolerant deeds also came up with a way for me to skirt my boycott: buy Speaker for the Dead used.  That way, I get to enjoy the book while not contributing money to its author.  And I confess, I still read Woody Allen’s occasional pieces in the New Yorker, consoling myself that I already paid for the magazine subscription, so why not?

By taking this stance, I know I open myself up to the same judgment.  I have controversial beliefs I’m sure many people don’t agree with (for example, my pro-gay rights stance, as mentioned above).  And I’ve done things in my past I’m not proud of.  So if a potential reader is turned off by my views or history, I shouldn’t be surprised if she decides not to buy my book.  (I just implore that she shouldn’t deny herself the splendor that is The Alpha and the Omega and purchase the novel used.)

What were some of the “Talent vs. Character” quandaries you’ve faced?  And how did you ultimately deal with them?

2 comments to Talent vs. Character

  • T-rence

    While I personally endorse the right of gay marriage, I hate the idea of requiring everyone to agree with me, else I end their otherwise benign-to-the-issue livelihood. In this case, to my knowledge and experience, the writer has not used his books to spread anti-gay agenda.

    A person’s livelihood must deny someone their rights before I feel justified in destroying their ability to provide for themselves. To do so is simply vengeful and not constructive.

    I think it’s unreasonable to expect a nation will completely change it’s attitude over the span of a decade or two and embrace a lifestyle and behavior that the nation formally took the position as defining as illness, perverse and/or degenerate. This is especially true for the Baby Boomers and the Silent Generation who make up over a third of our population.

    Also, I think our politics have extorted the issue to gain voter support rather than to socially progress. This activity has forced acceptance of homosexuality in political correctness, but not in our value consciousness.

    Don’t misunderstand me, I think we need need to defend people’s right to civil unions regardless of their sex orientation.

    Yet, there is higher degree of acceptable hedonism in our country than ever before; possibly in history of the “civilized” humanity. We are transitioning from a conservative, Protestant value system to a liberal, laissez faire social value system. Unfortunately, that transition will leave behind a portion of communities. And the conflict will linger until they die.

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