Six years ago, the world stopped for a Twitter thread.

It was a more innocent time–one saturated with memes of left shark and pizza rat while Facebook debated the color of a dimly-lit cocktail dress. A ravenous appetite for content fused with a universally diminishing, two-second attention span had created a world that hinged on such novelties, but it was a 148 tweet saga that brought the matrix to a grinding halt. 

#TheStory, as it came to be known, was prolifically narrated in 140-character bursts by Aziah “Zola” Wells with a captivating mix of charm and wit that kept smartphone jockeys scrolling as the seemingly endless tweets dove further and further into debauchery. Shit goes down. There are strippers and prostitution, pimps, a possible murder, and an unhinged lover who attempts to throw himself off the balcony. And it’s all so poetic, with uncanny lyricism like “this n**** lost in the sauce & his bitch lost in the game.”

In short: it’s a modern-day epic. 

Zola, the long-awaited film adaption, premiered in theaters this weekend. Directed by Janicza Bravo and written by Jeremy O Harris, the movie stars Taylour Paige as the sharp-witted title character and Riley Keough as the bimbo that drags her into the most surreal trip to Florida of her life. 

Here’s the original thread, or, if you need a refresher, check out this Rolling Stone tell-all with Wells

The movie version has been in the works for years, with James Franco (who is now accused by multiple women of sexual misconduct) once attached to the project. An early draft of the script for the film was “exploitative,” according to Paige. Ultimately, the story’s swagger from an unapologetically Black voice needed to be in the hands of a Black woman. According to a review from Roger Ebert, Bravo seems to have risen to the occasion, balancing awareness of the film’s racial and social implications with its raw humor and twists.

Of course, not everyone is sold. For The Guardian, Adrian Horton points out the difficulty in adapting drama from the small screen–the radical humor and nuance of internet culture can often feel confined by a script and lost in translation. 

Personally, I’ve been craving a woman-led blockbuster since Hustlers spun onto screens in 2019. I’m hopeful–early reviews have lauded the acting–but maybe I just can’t wait to get back to the theater again. 

Support independent local journalism. Join the INDY Press Club to help us keep fearless watchdog reporting and essential arts and culture coverage viable in the Triangle.

Follow Senior Staff Writer Leigh Tauss on Twitter or send an email to