Zoë Kravitz has spoken out about calls for her to censor the title of her new movie, Pussy Island, explaining her reasons for keeping the title as-is.
The film will be Kravitz's directorial debut, but she's far from new to the film industry. Her most recent acting credit is for The Batman—released in March—in which she played Catwoman/Selina Kyle.
Regarding her latest project, Kravitz explained to The Wall Street Journal Magazine:
"The title came from that world. The title is the seed of the story."
"It represents this time where it would be acceptable for a group of men to call a place that, and the illusion that we’re out of that time now.
Kravitz worked with fellow writer E.T. Feigenbaum for five years to develop the script before the surge of the #MeToo movement made them think more about the entire premise of the film and the message it would send. Kravitz and Feigenbaum then rewrote the script "a million times" to get it just right.
The story focuses on main character Frida, portrayed by Naomi Ackie, and her dangerous disillusionment about a newfound world of wealth.
Frida is a Los Angeles cocktail waitress who receives an invitation to visit a private island owned by philanthropist and tech giant Slater King, played by Channing Tatum.
When Frida accepts King's invitation after working her way into his inner circle, she discovers the glamorous island full of dance parties and beautiful people isn't as safe as it first appeared.
After completing the script, Kravitz sent it to Steven Soderbergh and Donald Glover for their feedback. Glover reportedly described Pussy Island as "dangerous" in how it examines gender power dynamics.
Tatum, who is a producer in addition to his lead role, described the changes to the original script as "pretty punk rock."
Kravitz told Deadline last year the title initially started off tongue-in-cheek:
"I started writing this story in 2017."
"As a woman in general, and a woman in this industry, I’ve experienced some pretty wild behavior from the opposite sex."
"The title was kind of a joke at first, this place where people would go, bring women, party and hang out.
It didn't stay a joke for long, though.
"The story evolved into something else, but the title wound up having multiple meanings. And it alludes to this time and place we claim to not be in anymore, in terms of sexual politics."
"People are evolving and changing but there is still a bad taste in a lot of people’s mouths from past behavior."
"It’s a nod to that, but it’s also playful, and a really playful film in a lot of ways."
"I like that the title leads with that and has some heavy meaning beneath it."
Kravitz described her fear of judgement when introducing the movie to the world at large.
"The truth is, with almost everything I do, if I can get it to the point where I truly think it’s good, then I can kind of let things drop away where I’m not so concerned about what other people think."
"It’s a scary time to have an opinion or to say the wrong thing or to make controversial art or statements or thoughts or anything. It’s mostly scary because art is about conversation.
That should, in my opinion, always be the point. The internet is the opposite of conversation. The internet is people putting things out and not taking anything in."
She wasn't going to let that fear stop her from showing her art to the world though.
"I was reminded that I’m an artist. Being an artist is not about everybody loving you or everyone thinking you’re hot. It’s about expressing something that will hopefully spark a conversation or inspire people or make them feel seen."
"I think I’m in a place right now where I don’t want to express myself through a caption or a tweet. I want to express myself through art."
The Wall Street Journal reported MGM bought the rights to the film after Kravitz made a sizzle reel to show off the "dark, funny, sexy, frightening" tone.
Pussy Island is currently in production on-location in Mexico.
Many speculate that it will be released next year—though no official release date has been announced.