It’s no secret that James Franco gets a lot of hate. Whether or not this hate is deserved is strictly your opinion; contrary to what the internet opinion herd may lead you to believe, brains are things that are allowed to come to conclusions independently.
My brain though, has come to the conclusion that James Franco has simply achieved success in a way that’s enabled him to self-actualize on a level that most of us, due to our creative and/or financial limitations, have been unable to remotely achieve. And if that last sentence sounded like something James Franco would say, good.
With that in mind, here are 8 reasons why James Franco’s story isn’t one that should be spearheaded with the vindictive ire of a bunch of liberals attending an Arkansas Pig Roast. Rather, it should be celebrated and admired:
1. He’s Very Good At His Job
There is no way around it; James Franco is a very good actor. He plays characters, not James Franco. Alien in Spring Breakers is a completely different beast than Aron Ralston in 127 Hours, who are both entirely different from James Franco In This Is The End.
James Franco takes characters and lets them own him. This seems like very much like “the point”.
2. He’s Very Aware He’s Reached A Level Of Self-Parody, And Is More Than Taking It In Stride
See: Getting Roasted.
3. The Media, Not He, Is The One Swooning Over His Reflection
As a collective entity, the media has this twisted method of shaping celebrity narratives in a way that makes it appear as if the celebrity is the one seeking the attention, rather than the reverse. And this very article somewhat demonstrates, media outlets are really good at capitalizing on celebrity to form juicy and polemical story arcs that people have no choice but to obsessively follow. See: most articles and news stories about Lena Dunham.
James Franco is probably the biggest victim of this as any.
4. True Artists Need To Know A Lot Of Different Stuff About A Lot of Different Things
If you’ve ever taken a creative writing class, you’ll know that rule number one is you have to do other things besides spend your day crammed up in a room that smells like dried out Woody Allen skin cells–otherwise you’d have nothing to write about. Think of it this way; if Vince Gilligan knew everything about story structure and character development, but nothing about chemistry, would he have been able to create Breaking Bad?
James Franco going to school, writing poems, and learning about shit is a good thing.
5. He’s Managed Not To Go Off The Rails
By 25, Franco was a major cultural phenomenon. He easily could’ve pulled a Spears/Lohan/Miley?, but he did not. Of course there’s still plenty of time for this. But so far, respect.
6. He’s Somehow Managed To Maintain His Artistic Integrity
When you’ve got people like Shia LaBeouf renouncing the studio system and becoming four steps removed from turning into the next Ted Kaczynski, Franco is somehow managing to juggle being in shit like Oz The Great And Powerful with Of Mice and Men on Broadway. When you’re worth more money that most companies, this probably isn’t easy.
7. He Doesn’t Consider Himself Above Much Of Anything
Part of the reason I listen to Marc Maron’s WTF Podcast is so that I can drop comedy knowledge bombs in articles I write on the internet. But another reason I listen to it is because Marc gets to the core of people in very unique and eye-opening way, something that was definitely on display during his sit-down with James Franco this past spring.* Maron got Franco to talk about his stint on General Hospital, and Franco basically spent that whole portion of the conversation waxing poetic** on how much he learned from everyone else, and how he’s not there to play the role of an NFL QB who wants the offense to conform to him. He works with the offense.
*A few media outlets ran this story about Franco being offended by an offhand comment Maron said about Franco taking himself too seriously. Reading these articles and listening to the podcast, its clear that Franco was thrown off course a little bit, but the whole thing was blown very much out of proportion, and there’s little to no beef.
**That’s a very toolish phrase. But it definitely worked there.
8. The Cool Story You Can Read Below, That Might Actually Be a Real Story
I spent the summer of 2011 interning in Los Angeles. One of the many oddball characters I met during that span was this weed-happy aspiring professional tennis player. We will call him Kyle.
Kyle, in addition to conducting hours-long conversations about the legitimacy of dubstep as a music genre (in hindsight, he wins), played pickup basketball at a gym somewhere around UCLA. The story Kyle tells is of this guy who always balled up with him; a semi-decent player who was noteworthy for two reasons:
- He wore sweatpants while playing pickup basketball.
- He looked almost exactly like James Franco.
Apparently that second point developed into a running joke between the two, with the James Franco look-alike jokingly taking on the persona of James Franco–doing things like quoting Spider Man, and engaging in excessive Franco-bashing. Kyle (allegedly) became pretty close to this dude and developed, to paraphrase his words, a big-time gym Bromance.
Two weeks went by without “James Franco” showing up. Kyle asks another guy if he’s heard anything about the sweatpants dude; if something happened, if he left, etc. This other guy doesn’t know who he’s talking about (having called him James Franco the whole time, he never learned his actual name) prompting Kyle to say “You know, the guy who looks like James Franco?”
As the story goes, there was a very logical reason as to why he looked and sounded exactly like James Franco. I still have a somewhat difficult time believing this story. Either way, Spring Break Forever.