A couple of days ago, I overheard a young woman say to her friend, “It’s like you’re not even trying to understand what James Franco is doing. Like you don’t even care.” Her friend insisted that she did care about what James Franco was doing, she just didn’t think it was art. And then I walked out of earshot, vaguely unsettled that this was a conversation that existed in the world, but consoled by the fact that there are still people out there who know exactly how to keep the whole James Franco-phenomenon firmly in perspective.
But now, James Franco is in the news for yet another social media gaffe, and it’s hard not to imagine that there are many many more conversations just like that one happening all around the city and it’s really pretty depressing. Franco, who is currently starring on Broadway in Of Mice and Men, voiced his displeasure with New York Times theater critic Ben Brantley’s less than stellar review of the show, by calling Brantley “a little bitch” on Instagram. Although Franco has since edited his insult, thanks to the wonders of the Internet, it’s been preserved in all its glory by Richard Lawson‘s screenshot (see below.) And while we get that Franco probably didn’t appreciate being told that his performance’s most notable characteristic was his “Yosemite Sam accent,” we find it hard to believe that Franco is that thin-skinned at this point in his career. After all, does Franco not remember how most people reacted to his stint hosting the Oscars? He was roundly condemned! (Personally, I found him to be hilarious, but that’s because I’ve always been the type to side-eye drama club-types like Anne Hathaway.)
All of which leads us to believe that this is just one more bit of Franco’s supposed meta take on being a celebrity, or yet another way for him to drum up publicity for his upcoming movie Palo Alto (based on his debut book, which was also greeted less than enthusiastically). But it’s all getting really old. Calling a critic a “little bitch” is just about the most sophomoric insult we can think of, descending into Alec Baldwin territory, as one New York magazine commenter implies. And it all makes us pretty certain that trying to understand James Franco doesn’t take all that much effort at all, but that there just isn’t anything there to understand. Subtweeting (or, in Franco’s case, subInstagramming), after all, is an art form (see: Solange Knowles), but clearly just another one at which Franco is not very skilled.
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Ohh brother pic.twitter.com/TKM3NktC7P
— Richard Lawson (@rilaws) April 17, 2014