Remember Zola? Back in 2015, a completely bonkers Twitter story went viral, as @_zolarmoon regaled us with the torrid tale of a ‘hoe trip’ that included guns, drugs, sex work, betrayal, friendship and Florida. Imagine Showgirls for the social media age. Anyway, the story found its way to James Franco, and he soon became attached to adapting the tale into a film. Because there’s nothing more inimitably James Franco than finding a black stripper’s Twitter memoir and turning it into something he can star in. Well, that’s probably not happening anymore.
According to the Hollywood Reporter, Franco’s project is one of many that the industry has put on hold in the wake of the Weinstein scandal and #metoo movement. Other films allegedly on the permanent back-burner include the Hugh Hefner biopic directed by alleged sexual harasser Brett Ratner. According to the piece, which was partly lambasted for the way it framed the issue around the supposed decline of ‘sexy movies’, this will also effect films in post-production, like Bradley Cooper’s remake of A Star is Born.
Franco, who is currently facing his own allegations of sexual misconduct, hasn’t spoken of the project in quite some time. Really, he never should have been attached to this in the first place. Why was this distinctly black female story of sex work being given to straight white dudes to tell? We were never really sure if Zola herself was actually involved with the project or receiving any money for her story being told.
As for how #MeToo will effect the projects made - and it should have an impact on some level - surely it’s a good thing for producers to reconsider which people get their money and what is made in that process? Franco will dishearteningly be fine after all this, so let’s give more money to under-represented film-makers and storytellers. Empower the voices who need it most.