Friday, February 4, 2011

Orson Scott Card On Bias in Popular Entertainment

Ever since I read his sci-fi novel Ender's Game, Orson Scott Card has been one of my favorite authors. Not only can he tell a good story (focusing almost exclusively on science fiction and fantasy), but he's also an excellent writer of non-fiction commentary. Card has a near-weekly column, Uncle Orson Reviews Everything in a Greensboro, NC paper called The Rhinoceros Times.

Recently Card has commented on a new TV show called Harry's Law, which is written by longtime TV series writer David E. Kelley. After watching the first episode of the show, Card had this to say about Kelley:
We just aren't sure David E. Kelley can write a watchable series any more.

He's like a born-again Christian who has to make all his episodes bear witness to the faith - only Kelley's religion is the hatred of all things Republican.
Card can only conclude that Kelley isn't actually trying to persuade anyone to agree with his politics: "The message couldn't be clearer: We don't want you ugly people who are different from me and my cool friends to sully this show by watching it."

What's interesting is that Orson Scott Card isn't a Republican. He's a registered Democrat with centrist views and little patience for extremism from either side. However, he believes that the far Left is currently the dominant force in American culture and is therefore the more destructive of the extreme ends of the political spectrum.

Being fair-minded, and liking the actors cast in Harry's Law, Card and his family gave the show one more shot. Unfortunately the second episode also featured leftist propaganda:
In the series' second episode, Harry (Kathy Bates) is defending an old woman who robbed a liquor store at gunpoint. Her defense is that she was starving and had no alternative.

Excuse me? Has Kelley ever been to Cincinnati (where the story supposedly takes place)? Does he think there's no welfare available to the poor? Between state welfare programs and local non-government organizations, does he really believe that the only choice of poor people is to rob stores at gunpoint?

It is simply asinine that Kelley's puppet prosecutor did not point out all the welfare sources that could have kept this woman fed - without her having to resort to armed robbery.
In Card's view (a view that I share), the writer is "flat-out lying about America - or else he has lost any kind of contact with reality". Kelley isn't describing modern America, he's describing Dickensian England. Card goes even further, suggesting that Kelley's story actually undermines his own political views:
In a way, Kelley and his ilk are confessing something rather awful. The Left has had control of American government and the power elite for decades. If it's all still as bad as ever, then that would suggest that all the money we've poured into the Leftist agenda has been utterly wasted. Where did it go, if it has accomplished nothing, as Kelley and his fellow deniers-of-America-as-it-is claim?
The American-bashing of the liberal elite doesn't stand up to close scrutiny. They tell us that America is just as racist as ever, yet this supposedly racist country elected a black president. They want us to think that the poor are starving in the streets, but the Left has been enacting financially ruinous welfare programs since the 1930s. We're told by the left-leaning media and the Democratic party that the Right has created an atmosphere of political hatred, yet they conveniently forget the vile things said about George W. Bush and other Republicans/conservatives.

I see only three options: either the Left a) regularly misrepresents America, b) is utterly inept at implementing its own agenda despite having significant power and influence for decades, or c) its programs are completely ineffective despite throwing huge amounts of taxpayer dollars at a myriad of pet causes. I suspect it's a mixture of the three.


  1. Or you can conclude that the episodes in question are just sloppy writing, and there is not an 'agenda' underneath them. That's what I conclude. I don't give Hollywood credit for conspiracy. They just want $$.

  2. I don't accuse Hollywood of conspiracy, nor do I believe that Card does. However, I think we'd both accuse Hollywood of left-leaning groupthink.

    As for sloppy writing, Kelley is considered one of the best. He has written for "L.A. Law", "The Practice", "Boston Legal", as well as others, and has won numerous Emmys. It seems less likely that he's guilty of sloppy writing and more likely that his left-of-center viewpoints have come to dominate his storylines.



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