Zola ★★★★

original review

A Hegel-ian examination of the parallel between social media and stripper culture. Zola displays its titular character trying to achieve self-actualization through recognition by others, and how it results in violent misrecognition and the plummeting down the rabbit hole of an increasingly overwhelming experience - an experience that is essentially a physical manifestation of the consequences of being too entrenched in the virtual world of untrustworthy transient friendships. The film leans into it's Twitter sourcing, using stripping not so much as a parallel to social media but as a blend with it.

Early on, the movie establishes Zola's situation as predominantly stable: she has a decent job, an enjoyable way to make some extra cash, and a loving boyfriend. When we meet Stefani and she and Zola instantly hit it off, their friendship seems based around fleeting passions and commonalities, and Stefani even insists upon "follow for follow, bitch." It is immediately clear that the relationship is entirely superficial, built only upon social media and stripping. (Perhaps the real point is that Stefani is incapable of genuine connection, which further deepens this idea of dissociation even more.) When Stefani invites Zola on a trip to Florida, Zola has every reason to decline, but refuses any logical rationality in favor of the messages received on her phone, and in going faces the literal consequences of her dissociation through social media. Stripping and social media: neither is inherently "bad," and both have obvious wonderful benefits (I spent the day touring Manhattan with Jack and we watched this together, he's a really cool person and a friend I got to know through Letterboxd), but both require an eerily similar level of caution.

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