Advertisers Drop James Franco Over His Gay Sundance Films

By: Daniel Villarreal

Last night during the South By Southwest red carpet premiere of Harmony Korine's Spring Breakers, actor James Franco said that his participation in two gay Sundance film projects caused three advertisers to drop him from their campaigns.

"I've lost three kind of advertising campaigns now because the companies say they don't like my image, but I know that it's directly related to the films that I put out at Sundance," Franco said.

View the video of his comments below.

At this year's Sundance, Franco unveiled two works: Kink, an often erect documentary-style film about BDSM porn actors and Interior. Leather Bar., a fictional recreation of footage censored from the gay 1980 thriller Cruising. Franco produced Kink and co-directed Interior. Leather Bar. He also played Hugh Hefner in a third Sundance film called Lovelace, a narrative re-telling of porn actress Linda Lovelace's exit from the triple-X scene.

While Franco did not name the three companies that allegedly dropped him from their ad campaigns, he did cite it as proof of pervasive homophobia in mainstream American media. He also commented that he tends to help support gay film projects that he believes in and that might not get made without his help.

Franco has inarguably done more than any other American actor to raise the profile of explicitly gay cinema in the U.S. film scene, both by playing openly gay characters and by helping produce independent gay films. His most recent film — Disney's Oz the Great and Powerful —also premiered this weekend to $150 million in worldwide ticket sales, homophobia be damned.

As for Spring Breakers, it's no Disney film. It's basically a female gangster fantasy about college girls who start robbing people to go on Spring Break vacation. It doesn't have any super deep message, but it's beautifully shot, disturbingly funny, and it has a handful of lesbian and bisexual makeout scenes which give it sufficient queer cred. If that's not enough for you, Franco plays a creepy gangster rapper with gold teeth and cornrows named Alien who ends up fellating the barrel of a gun midway through the movie. Yay indie film!

The film's repeated focus on jiggling breasts and asses may bother some, but its sudden bursts of violence, rampant drug use and over-the-top comic moments make the camera's orgiastic gaze part of a larger critique of the violent excess displayed in gangster rap videos and Spring Break specials.

During our interview with the director and three of the film's actors at last night's SXSW red carpet event, Mr. Korine discussed whether less conventional films like his will ever get support from mainstream studios. Actress Selena Gomez discussed her transition from a Disney star to an edgy indie film actress, as well as how she dealt with cyber-bullying following her public breakup with Justin Bieber. Zac Efron's ex Ashley Benson listed the three actresses who most inspire her and explained her love of non-traditional female roles in film.

Watch video of the interviews below.