On James Franco and the colonization of black spaces
February 05, 2016 at 11:34 am
Yesterday it was announced that James Franco will direct the film adaptation of the viral Zola story. The film will be based off a Rolling Stone interview released in November of last year wherein King admits to dramatizing certain parts.
Aziah King’s rise to national prominence was brought about by an epic drama she told over an 148-tweet Twitter thread. After tweeting and then deleting her story, Black Twitter was in a frenzy for hours. Trending worldwide, King received positive attention from many.
In India reading #Zola. Drama, humor, action, suspense, character development. She can write! There’s so much untapped talent in the hood. x
— Ava DuVernay (@AVAETC) October 29, 2015
I can’t believe anything Jess is saying because she said Zola’s hair was a “short nappy wig” and we all saw the picture 😒
— solange knowles (@solangeknowles) October 31, 2015
King’s absence from the press release has many questioning how involved she will be in the production of the film.
Yo @JamesFrancoTV if the movie is based on the Rolling Stone article, is Zola getting a check or nah?
— Ireezy III (@ira) February 4, 2016
For the second year in a row, the Academy has been slammed for not including people of color in Oscar nominations. Despite the overwhelming success of filmmakers and actors of color, #OscarsSoWhite reemerged this year and has been a point of contention for many in Hollywood. Some are boycotting the Oscars completely while others take offense at the national critique of the most prestigious institution in Hollywood.
But the problems of diversity and inclusion in Hollywood are not solely to blame on the Academy. Actors of color find it challenging to find roles in general. And many of the opportunities they find are characters reinforcing old stereotypes with mostly white men in producing and directing positions.
King’s tale brought about a discussion for the necessity of space in Hollywood for black writers and directors.
This story was a major contribution of Black Twitter in 2015. From #AskRachel to #ChaversNextArticle, black people on the Internet create and share a space for us to detox and stay woke. Because the Internet is open, everyone has a glimpse into this uniquely black space. But problems ensue when this goes from sideline watching to turning over a profit.
But this is more than monetization, it’s colonization. Was there no black film director free to contribute this project? Eliminating the space for black directors and producers to tell a story that came from a black space perpetuates a culture that steals from black people while making money off our backs.
For over 400 years, black people have been exploited. From Elvis Presley to Miley Cyrus, white people enjoy black culture giving little-to-no regard of the civil and human rights issues we face. They want our culture but they don’t want our problems.
The music business was built brick by brick off the backs, shoulders, heart ache and pain, of black people, and everyone is just exhausted.
— solange knowles (@solangeknowles) February 4, 2016
Black Twitter is already predicting how the casting for the film will look.
Please make sure this Zola casting is on point! We don’t need Miley Cyrus playing Zola or some shit!@JamesFrancoTV
— S (@SakPaseSam) February 5, 2016
The casting for the Zola story won’t look like what we envisioned. Watch Zola be Jennifer Lawrence
— Jollof Skywalker (@holadamilola) February 5, 2016
UPDATE: BuzzFeed News reported that Nichelle Watkins, Aziah’s manager and mom, confirmed that her daughter will be involved “100%.”
What do you think about Franco directing the Zola Story? Sound off in the comments below!