Sunday, November 30, 2008

Stephen Bond says "Ender's Game" is pornography!

Here's an entertaining, overlong review of Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card. I haven't read Ender's Game, although many of my science fiction-loving friends have encouraged me to do so.

The reviewer Stephen Bond thinks that because this novel encourages its readers to persist in their immature notions of the way the world should work, it's pornography. Following this logic, anything Robert Heinlein ever wrote would have to be considered pornography. Also, the entire Sherlock Holmes canon, the Encyclopedia Brown stories, the complete original three-season run of Star Trek, and the films Top Gun and Days of Thunder.

Unfortunately, I have to disagree with him...pornography means "recorded prostitution", if I remember any of my Latin. In truth, I don't remember any of my Latin, but I still think pornography means "recorded prostitution". This means that although Ender's Game is not pornography, Scary Movie, Scary Movie 2, Scary Movie 3, Epic Movie, and American Idol are all equivalent to Debbie Does Dallas. And that's the truth.


  1. The term "pornography" is undergoing a transformation these days into meaning "something that satisfies base instincts". (Classic example: food porn) That doesn't bother me since I'm a linguistic descriptivist: words mean what people think they mean, academics and dictionaries need to document the changes, not attempt to proscribe disfavored uses.

    Bond is charging that Ender's game so appeals to the bad natures of its readers and fans that we should label it with a term of contempt. He didn't convince me. He did convince me that he has a big problem with Card's politics and worldview, but that's not criticism, it's punditry.

    I liked Bond's review of The Taking of Pelham One Two Three because it analyzes the movie as a movie. It does not attempt to divine whether it's a morally good or bad movie, or whether it appeals to morally sound or unsound people. It just reviews the flick.

    His review of Before Sunset is simply awful. It starts up with a paragraph about how the author "was prejudiced against this movie from its opening scene, set in the Shakespeare & Co. bookshop in Paris". He apparently regards that bookstore as a place for poseurs. Perhaps fair, but entirely irrelevant to a review of Before Sunset, since the movie gets out of that bookstore as soon as it can and never comes back. The culture of that bookstore is never explored in the movie and has no relevance to the review.

    In my limited survey of this person's writings, I can't see why I should read more of them or care about what he has to say. I get the impression he's some kind of game designer. He may be accomplished there, but I don't see much to suggest that he should be respected as a general commentator to watch.

  2. Regarding your statement: "...I don't see much to suggest that he should be respected as a general commentator to watch." I agree wholeheartedly. A friend forwarded me a link to his review, asking me if I'd read the book, and I found the review amusing enough to blog about.

    Don't worry, Mr. Bond. We won't pick on you any more. We know you're small potatoes.

    "Pornography" still means "recorded prostitution". I look on "food porn" and "torture porn" as slang.