In the December issue of Candy, an American lifestyle magazine dedicated to the “transversal” culture, meaning transsexuality, transvestism, cross-dressing, and androgyny, popular actor James Franco appeared on the cover, cross-dressed, and in full make-up.
The issue generated a frenzy of response on all other media platforms, instigating entertaining, disconcerting, objectified, even cautionary feedback.
To provide more insight into this particular lifestyle, the actor, who is reportedly heterosexual, is a vehement advocate of equal legal rights for all sexual orientations and lifestyles, no matter the complexity.
What the NY Times call “gender-bending saturating the news media”, he made the news because he depicted a taboo subject, not his performance per se. For his wild portfolio of roles he usually chooses to portray challenging characters and often sexually confused or sexually marginal roles, anyways.
Libertarian sexual attitudes and expressions in popular culture have mostly been positively valued by the media as they stir a bit of controversy and gain readership. Their “edging into the mainstream” means that they are becoming more acknowledged and tolerated.
Franco is someone who can most candidly express undefined sexuality – which is contradictory, as he often just succeeds in raising more questions about the limiting definition of sexuality.
It is no longer a question of gender powers confined to these norms, but rather if the ones that deviate from the ‘norm’ are viewed as heroes or misfits. With fashion and media accepting them as paragons of modern times, the society may be more willing to go along, carving new definitions of contemporary culture.
More reading: The James Franco Project, NY Magazine