“Mad Men’s”Jon Hamm and James Franco star in the upcoming Allen Ginsberg biopic “Howl,” one of the hotly anticipated films at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival.
At a Sundance press conference, Hamm and Franco likened that long-ago obscenity trial and fight for Ginsberg’s Beat Generation poem “Howl” to be published to today’s ongoing struggle for equality and the passage of Proposition 8, banning the right of homosexuals to marry in the state of California.
“Howl” was originally written as a performance piece, but it was later published by poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti of City Lights Books. The poem was considered to be obscene, and Ferlinghetti was arrested. But in 1957, the courts finally ruled that the poem was not obscene, and “Howl” became one of the most popular poems of the Beat Generation.
“There’s a line in the movie [that says] ‘I think that publicity engendered by this trial is going to bring this poem to a much wider audience than it ever would have had,'” Hamm says. “I think that argument can certainly be made for the Prop 8 situation, where publicity engendered by all this brings to light the absurdity of ascribing second-class status to an entire group of people.”
Franco, who plays Ginsberg — and also starred in the award-winning “Milk — agrees,”Like I said before when ‘Milk’ was coming out, I hope we’ll get to a time soon where we’ll look back and say, ‘I can’t believe that we were discriminating against this whole group of people and saying, “You don’t have the same rights as everybody else.”‘ I hope that the time comes very, very soon, when we can all look back and say that was ridiculous.”