James Franco’s Anti-‘Spring Breakers: Second Coming’ Rant Misses the (Accidental?) Point of ‘Spring Breakers’

As someone who first dismissed Spring Breakers as nihilistic drivel, then, flummoxed and remembering that I like nihilistic drivel, second-guessed myself into deciding it was one of my favorite films of the year, I took one concrete thing away from the movie: first instincts aren’t necessarily right — they’re just first. With Spring Breakers, in fact, nothing was right. For this reason, I cannot get behind James Franco’s (HE’S HEEERE!!!) premature condemnation of the sequel, Spring Breakers: Second Coming, on his battleground of choice: Instagram.

Spring Breakers was a terrible movie and an excellent movie — and not in the adoringly ironic way that I’d call The First Wives Club an excellent movie. It just actually was both. Too bizarre to truly please mainstream audiences and too Selena Gomez-ed out to appeal to snobs, its surreal sexualization was a simultaneous “fuck you” and “fuck me” to everyone. It was beautiful and hideous and vapid and deep, with casting that brought up all sorts of uncomfortable, cyclical meta-questions.

Franco opines that the sequel — written by Trainspotting author Irvine Welsh, directed by music video visionary Jonas Akerlund, and notably lacking Harmony Korine’s or James Franco’s help — will be terrible. But “terrible” seems irrelevant. Because the first was terrible. And it wasn’t. So no matter where this sequel falls quality-wise, if it’s better it’ll also be worse and if it’s worse it’ll also be better. But before getting too much further into the very black hole of meaning I thought I’d escaped last year after Spring Breakers discussion died down, here’s Franco’s tirade:

“STATEMENT ABOUT SPRING BREAKERS 2: This is not being done with Harmony Korine or my consent. The original was wholly Harmony’s creation and these producers are capitalizing on that innovative film to make money on a weak sequel. I want everyone to know that whoever is involved in the sequel is jumping on board a poison ship. It will be a terrible film, with a horrible reason d’être: to make money off someone else’s creativity. Can you imagine someone making the sequel to Taxi Driver without Scorsese and DeNiro’s consents? Insanity! I’m speaking up for Harmony and his original vision and for any creative person who cares about preserving artistic integrity.”

I agree with The Dissolve’s Matt Singer, who wrote that Spring Breakers is a “perfect platform for a self-referential and self-critical sequel.” Since Spring Breakers‘ primary medium was trash and its primary theme was excess, why wouldn’t the Spring Breakers brand thrive in sequel form – the cinematic equivalent of trashy excess? The film itself relied on numbing repetitions of the same catchphrases and images; my critique would be that if they truly wanted the sequel to deepen the film’s adolescent self-mimicry, a TV series — where people could tune in weekly to revisit the same jiggling buttocks, forever, till death do them and the buttocks part — would be a superior platform.

I’m aware that sequels are shitty. But as long as Franco’s declaring that art made without the creator’s consent cannot live up to the original, I wonder whether William Faulkner would really have been down with the co-opting of his work into the Franco Funhouse with his adaptations of As I Lay Dying and The Sound and the Fury.

Spring Breakers’ salacious vagueness was as open to interpretation as stock photos of Women Laughing Alone With Salad. The first Spring Breakers was a collage of the things that make our era so gross; through that grossness’ appeal to us products of the era, its success made so much sense. Would it not then benefit from being re-collaged into further, grosser oblivion?