Someone Get Zola a Pulitzer or Potentially a Spot in the Witness Protection Program

Illustration for article titled Someone Get Zola a Pulitzer or Potentially a Spot in the Witness Protection Program

Buckle up for Zola, a woman on Twitter who on Tuesday night wrote a contemporary epic in 150 tweets that will, I assume, within a year be adapted into a big-budget Tyler Perry/Quentin Tarantino collaboration called Zola & Jess & Jarrett & Z, or perhaps it will become a PSA of some sort, or maybe a canonical theater piece called:

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Certainly, if it’s true, the odds are good that it will be presented to a jury.

The story of why Zola and “this here bitch” fell out has been deleted from Twitter since going viral overnight, but it survives in Storify and screencap form. It begins at Hooters.

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Illustration for article titled Someone Get Zola a Pulitzer or Potentially a Spot in the Witness Protection Program
Illustration for article titled Someone Get Zola a Pulitzer or Potentially a Spot in the Witness Protection Program

Zola goes to Florida, and what follows is—well, you know that part of Their Eyes Were Watching God where Tea Cake gets rabies? It’s like that, except instead of the Everglades it’s a strip club and a series of increasingly terrifying motels and apartments, and instead of a rabid dog it’s a white girl named Jess who tricks for $100 until Zola sets her up a Backpage account, and instead of the reader it’s a man named Jarrett who won’t stop crying, and instead of Tea Cake it’s a guy named Z who, if the story is true, gets put away for an assortment of crimes, including murder.

Twitter has already started casting the movie:

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As well as bringing up an aspect of the whole Raiders of the Lost Trap scenario that no sensible reader could ignore:

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It’s fiction, I assume. At least, that’s what the lawyers will say if it’s not! In the meantime, Twitter detectives are on the case.

Updated to add (and then again to blur the top photo and censor the Instagram handle):

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Illustration for article titled Someone Get Zola a Pulitzer or Potentially a Spot in the Witness Protection Program

So, maybe that whole thing with Jarrett’s pants and the balcony really did happen?

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Images via Twitter

Contact the author at jia@jezebel.com.

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DISCUSSION

jia-t
Jia Tolentino

My mentions are a big pile of people who are angry at me for writing this so I’m just going to write it down here: Zola tweeted this insane story for two hours while racking up thousands of RTs on each tweet; it was nationally trending with 30K tweets about it when I woke up, but drawing attention to it on a large and more formal platform (not because it is “newsworthy,” in my calculation, but because Zola is A STORYTELLER FOR OUR TIME) is uncool, unethical, dangerous, etc.

Is the bad thing that Zola wrote the story about a sensitive and painful situation in an extremely entertaining and stylistically flippant way, or that thousands of people retweeted her and 30K people tweeted about it, or that I wrote about it, matching Zola’s tone? Or that Buzzfeed or Fader or Complex wrote about it but the responses to them are pretty different? Is the bad thing that I’m a woman who has been lucky enough to edit great pro-sex-work essays and wanting to post about Zola’s Great American Novel seems inconsistent and anti-feminist of me? To me the bad thing that people are rightfully upset about is that we live in a world where Jess gets hurt by a bunch of exploitative men—and that her temporary friend can write about it in a public venue, and that a blogger might be flippant about a story that’s very dark (and spellbinding because it’s so flippant, itself). The criticism aimed at Jezebel seems almost entirely like stuff that applies more stringently to future Booker winner Zola but would never land there, for some good reasons and some bad ones.

Anyway. I get that the slug didn’t land for some people; I meant it in the spirit of saying that Zola is Maya Angelou for the Twitter age, but if people think I don’t have the right to use Zola’s language (or mine, in a different context) that’s OK with me, I get it. I also blurred out Jess’s Instagram handle after someone pointed out that it was invasive of her privacy—I should have thought of that before.

Zola is a spellbinding storyteller! I regret this only because of this!