Thursday, September 08, 2011

Orson Scott Card accused of adding homophobia to Hamlet

Hamlet's FatherScience Fiction writer, NOM board member, and Mormon Times columnist Orson Scott Card has re-written Hamlet. Below are excerpts of  "review of Hamlet's Father by Orson Scott Card" by William Alexander,

Update (9-15-2011)]
  • This reviewer thinks that while there may be a subtle reference to homosexuality in the book, Card is generally discussing pedophilia, not homosexuality.
  • Orson Scott Card has responded to the review below, claiming the book discusses pedophilia, not homosexuality
Orson Scott Card has rewritten Hamlet. The back of this slim novella boasts that once we have read this "revelatory version of the Hamlet story, Shakespeare's play will be much more fun to watch—because now you'll know what's really going on." .....

The extent of the novella's failure is surprising—and embarrassing, given that Card is a skilled veteran novelist and Subterranean a well-respected press. The most polite thing for us to do would be to walk away and quietly forget the whole painful exercise. But Card does not deserve our polite amnesia. His failures should be known and remembered, because the revelation in his "revelatory new version" turns out to be a nightmare of vitriolic homophobia.

Here's the punch line: 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. The old king was actually murdered by Horatio, in revenge for molesting him as a young boy—along with Laertes, and Rosencrantz, and Guildenstern, thereby turning all of them gay. We learn that Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are now "as fusty and peculiar as an old married couple. I pity the woman who tries to wed her way into that house."
Hamlet is damned for all the needless death he inflicts, and Dead Gay Dad will now do gay things to him for the rest of eternity: "Welcome to Hell, my beautiful son. At last we'll be together as I always longed for us to be."
All of this is as horrifying as it is ridiculous. It is not, however, surprising that Orson Scott Card's primary purpose is to slander ten percent of the human race. He recently joined the board of the National Organization for Marriage, an institution which exists solely to crush gay civil rights wherever they emerge. Card has publicly stated that homosexuals will destroy America:
There is a myth that homosexuals are "born that way," and we are pounded with this idea so thoroughly that many people think that somebody, somewhere, must have proved it . . . The dark secret of homosexual society—the one that dares not speak its name—is how many homosexuals first entered into that world through a disturbing seduction or rape or molestation or abuse, and how many of them yearn to get out of the homosexual community and live normally." See speech here
The neurologist Simon LeVay did, in fact, demonstrate that homosexuals are "born that way" in 1991. Ivanka Savic proved it conclusively in 2008. These are rigorous scientific investigations of human neurobiology. Card's fantasy of abuse, stated outright in his editorial and dramatized—badly—in Hamlet's Father, has no factual basis. This should make the slander easy to dismiss, but it is painfully difficult to prove the absence of anything—or to refute someone who presumes to speak for your own unconscious wish.
This kind of psychological violence is easy to inflict. Let's play the same game with Card's portrayal of the Danish prince, and suppose the Hamlet of Hamlet's Father is gay. After all, the prince shows tenderness for Horatio, and only for Horatio. He is physically shocked when, at one point, Ophelia tries to kiss him. Afterwards, he only notices her beauty in the abstract: "She had been a sweet girl, when he knew her years ago; she was a pretty woman now, and though he had no particular desire for any of her tribe, he knew it was wrong to trifle with her." Tribe meaning women here, it's clear that women delight not Hamlet. Only Horatio delights Hamlet. What's more, the prince was born this way; the book assures us that Gertrude was able to protect her son's innocence from the old king's appetites, and the boy turned out to be gay regardless.
Read the entire review here

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