In August of 2008, I wrote about a ghastly Page Six blind item about a male movie star who reportedly raped an ex-boyfriend and then paid him off to keep quiet about it. My interest (for lack of a better word) in the item was about the ways in which it played into and perpetuated the rape culture.
I did not realize that there was apparently a widespread internet rumor that the unidentified actor in the item was James Franco.
In a new interview with Playboy, Franco addresses being linked to the horrible item, despite the fact that the victim himself admitted not knowing him:
Gawker [picked up the rumor] and did this "Gay Rapist" story that was so fucking offensive because I have friends who have been raped. They did a very classy online reader's poll asking which actor who had a big movie out that summer had beaten up and raped his boyfriend and then paid him off so it wouldn't go to court. The poll had me, Will Smith, Christian Bale and maybe Tom Cruise or some others, and the readers voted for me. Because it was just an innocent poll, they could report this.It's a small thing that Franco does not use this opportunity to insist that he's not gay. But it's an important thing.
...My lawyer called them and said that it was completely untrue and to take it down. They said, "Well, we're just reporting what the New York Post told us. If James wants to make a comment on our blog, we're happy to report it." It was a choice. Either let this thing build and become bigger and bigger, or just let it go and let them be the petty scumbags that they are.
It is also a small thing that he does not say it's offensive because he's not a rapist, defensively centering himself, but instead says it "was so fucking offensive because I have friends who have been raped," thus allying himself with survivors and underlining that treating speculative rape allegations as fodder for entertainment is bullshit for survivors of rape.
That's an important thing, too.
What's depressing is that both of these small things are notable.