I was, at least in theory, one of the people boycotting Ender’s Game. Okay, so I’d never read the book, and the movie looked really terrible based on the trailers, but Orson Scott Card was giving money to some causes I felt were odious. Yes, the word was that he wasn’t getting a percentage, even as a producer, but come on. If the movie had done well, we all knew there would be sequels. We all know that movie tie-in editions of books are a thing. You can’t pretend that a successful movie wouldn’t have made Orson Scott Card any money he hadn’t already made at the point at which the movie came out.
Indeed, I would argue that the support people like Card give to anti-gay causes actually causes deaths, albeit indirectly (at least in this country). People who believe that they will lose everything that matters to them if anyone finds out they’re gay kill themselves. Fact. A depressingly large number of them; the numbers aren’t very good, but the only other risk factor that’s even close is mental illness. This is not because anything in being gay makes you suicidal. It’s because gay people face a lot of disapproval from those around them, though blessedly less now than even during my own adolescence, whether they’re closeted or not. If people in certain social circles even suspect you’re gay, you can be tormented by the people who love you. Okay, I read a story about a father who beat his two-year-old daughter to death to make her gay in the belief that it would keep her away from evil men like him. So mission accomplished, I guess? However, you’re much more likely to hear that a parent has beaten their gay child. Disowned their gay child. Thrown their gay child onto the streets. A fair number of teenagers are even harassed by parents, classmates, and so forth because people think the teens are gay even if they aren’t. Living with that is incredibly difficult.
Even leaving aside the deaths, there are all kinds of other depressing stories. Couples unable to visit one another in the hospital because they aren’t “really” family. Children who end up in the custody of strangers because it’s better than letting a legal parent’s gay partner adopt the children as well. You’ve probably heard as many of them as I have, and we don’t have to go over all of them again. These are the real-world consequences of where Orson Scott Card spends his money, and it’s why I would have boycotted even a good Ender’s Game movie.
But let me tell you a story. Once upon a time, there was a young man who wasn’t acting quite the same as he used to. His parents sent him to an organization connected to their church that would help him through the benefits of hard work and connection with the church. Only that didn’t work, either, and the young man was sent home. Eventually, even his father had to fire him because of the young man’s mental instability, and the church’s response was to forbid him to come anywhere near church teaching sessions, including the ones they’d convinced the young man’s parents would work to cure him. His mother took him to an osteopath, because she didn’t believe in psychiatry, and the young man was prescribed vitamins. The vitamins didn’t work, and the young man thought maybe his mother was trying to poison him. His mother took the young man to a “self-trained natural healer,” and that didn’t help, either. A man from the church told her that the way to handle her son, who was just getting worse, was to give him a lot of housework and tire him out. They also agreed that the natural healer could probably help the young man if they were living together and the young man was getting treatment all the time.
The morning he was supposed to leave, the young man followed his mother’s order to take a shower. He tried to slit his wrists, but he didn’t die. So he went into the kitchen, where his mother was talking on the phone, and he stabbed her seventy-seven times. When the young man finally saw psychiatrists in the aftermath of the murder, it was determined that he was severely schizophrenic and unfit to stand trial. He has since been medicated and is now stable. His parents’ church had convinced them that the status they held meant they had special powers which should have prevented what happened to the mother, and they deny that the medication could possibly stabilize anyone.
Now let’s look at another part of the story. Let’s say that one of the biggest movie stars in the world was giving his money to that church. That movie star was telling people that he knew more about the history of psychiatry and that it was all garbage. Let’s say his church even claimed that psychiatrists were in league with an evil alien overlord and were deliberately enslaving humans. Most of the stories about deaths caused by that policy aren’t as flashy, of course. Mostly, it’s people with untreated depression who believe paying the church lots of money will cure them, and it doesn’t, and they quietly kill themselves. Not that you’d hear it from the church, of course. That movie star was an enthusiastic spokesman for the church’s beliefs, which, again, are pretty directly killing people by taking away the medicine that keeps them alive. Even those who don’t die are in many cases no longer functional members of society.
You’d figure this would be a big deal, right? I mean, keeping two consenting adults from getting married is bad, and contributing to teen suicide rates is worse, but an organization that’s directly, personally killing people? That’s terrible! And this is only one aspect of what’s terrible about that organization. While the church claims it’s okay with homosexuality now, it has left unamended its texts that talk about the evils of gay people. Its pattern of stalking people who dare write negative things about the church is well known. For heaven’s sake, it bullied the IRS into leaving its tax-exempt status in place. This is a pretty nasty organization, and you’d think that movie star would see at least as much backlash as someone who supported Proposition Eight in California.
Well, he’s considered kind of weird.
Maybe beyond kind of. Maybe all the way to “extremely.” But people are still awfully surprised if you say you don’t watch his movies. (Even, say, Far and Away, which you unabashedly loved in high school and will never watch again.) Because I mean, it’s just his religion. Who’s he hurting?
Me. He is hurting me. I am bipolar, and every time someone listens to Tom Cruise even a little, they are making my life that much harder. They contribute to things like the person who said all I need to do to control my illness is concentrate. To the people who listen to stories of the utter agony of just trying to get through life with a mental illness and tell the person telling the story to get some exercise and they’ll feel better. To the fact that psychiatric care for the poor is so low priority, and therefore poorly funded, that my own therapist is trying to kick me out of treatment so she can have two more hours a month to see another patient. His money goes to an organization that is actually promoting the view that psychiatrists caused the 9/11 attacks. Now, okay, very few people believe that, because it’s obviously ridiculous. But a lot of people believe that mental illness isn’t a serious problem, and that most mentally ill people are dangerous homeless drug addicts who are going to kill us all or else faking their symptoms to get [I have no idea]. He is hurting me, though, and he is certainly hurting anyone unfortunate enough to be both a Scientologist and mentally ill, because he gives Scientology something of a gloss of legitimacy. It can’t be a cult if Tom Cruise is in it, right? He’s so all-American!
We are real, and Scientology is killing us. If you won’t give Orson Scott Card your money, and I don’t think you should, don’t give it to Tom Cruise, either.