Poor James Franco. Not yet 40 years old, he has already amassed 132 acting credits, 60 producer credits, and 36 director credits. His filmography reveals as much classic American literature (Steinbeck, Faulkner, Cormac McCarthy) as it does ‘gay’ stuff, but it’s the gay stuff that seems to get him in hot water.
When Franco first played gay, in Milk, we were all excited. But then something happened. The actor, who identifies as heterosexual, decided he really, really liked playing gay. The tipping point had to be the hardcore Interior. Leather Bar (2013), a short film he made about the 1980 movie Cruising. Now, he’s at it again with King Cobra. It’s a biopic about porn star Brent Corrigan, who entered the business underage and whose mentor was later found murdered by the gay man played by Franco.
“There are lots of other reasons to be interested in gay characters than wanting myself to go out and have sex with guys,” he has been quoted as saying. “Part of what I'm interested in is how these people who were living anti-normative lifestyles contended with opposition.” Whatever Franco’s reasons, I applaud him for embracing rather than ignoring homosexuality like most other actors in Hollywood. Unfortunately, I made the mistake of reading user reviews of King Cobra on the Internet Movie Data Base (www.imdb.com). As expected, there are a lot of gay pills out there.
Someone named bajmba declares “James Franco - if you think anyone believes you are actually straight, keep trying because no one believes it. And that doesn't mean you are a good representation of the LGBTQ community because you aren’t.” Oooo, meow.
Then there’s the barely articulate anhoso, who also babbles on about Franco’s previous film I Am Michael. Like King Cobra it was directed by Justin Kelly, but it was also produced by Gus Van Sant, co-starred Zachary Qunito and had music by Jake Shears. That’s a lot of out gay talent for one little movie. I Am Michael is the true story of gay magazine publisher Michael Glatze who ‘converted’ to heterosexuality in 2005, so right away it tells a story that most gay men do not want to hear.
Of King Cobra, the scattered anhoso writes that “Being GAY IS MORE THAN SEX … the public is being retaught that being gay is all about porn, sex, drugs and death.” Sounds like anhoso needs a good fuck. Later on, he even drags in the president of the Phillipines and Jerry Sandusky to make his point, whatever it is. “Franco is a self-serving opportunist . . . we do not see James investing in an effort to combat those stereotypes or misconceptions by telling stories in films that show gays to be regular humans who are your neighbours, your teachers, your creators, your friends.” Really? Then what was Milk?
More weightless opinions come from someone called bkoganbing, who writes, “I wish he'd just come out of the closet already. Are you fooling anyone?” Finally, there is geraldohanna who declares, “James Franco proves once more that he is talented but highly pretentious when it comes to his craft . . . - who is this movie for? - And what this movie is about?”
My heart breaks for English grammar, which takes the biggest beating in these hissy missives. But it also breaks for James Franco, because here is a major Hollywood star who has made homosexuality one of the key subjects of his artistic expression, and the very people for whom he makes these movies reject them with umbrage. So much for the ‘Allies’ part of the LGBTTIQQ2SA umbrella. And who cares who makes gay movies? We need them. Stop shitting on them.
As for King Cobra, it’s nothing special. But I’m still glad someone made it.