Let us take a journey back, way back to 2008...
I, like so many other white people, liked James Franco. He seemed to have talent. He was self deprecating. His television biopic of James Dean, though not great, showed he had talent, and his humble speech at the Golden Globes showed his modesty. "Freaks and Geeks" was a cherished show; its early cancellation is still rued by fans today. His turn as Harry Osborn in the first two "Spiderman" films exposed him to millions of fanboys and placed his face high on the list of crushes of teenage girls (and some boys).
In 2008, his comic turn in "Pineapple Express" endeared him to million of stoners. A dramatic turn in Gus Van Sant's "Milk" demonstrated that Franco was only beginning a rise to stardom. But then it began to go all wrong...
Personally, it went wrong with me when I ran into him at a small, dark Mexican restaurant in the San Fernando Valley the week after the 2008 Oscars--on my birthday. Let me stress this minor point: my birfday!... There I am with my mother eating a tostada salad, and James Franco is seated next to me. I hyperventilate slightly. He was feet away from me. I could reach out and touch him.
Upon leaving the table, rather than sliding out of the booth, I decided to vacate by sliding between my table and that of Franco. Unfortunately, there was not enough room and I pounded into his table, disturbing glasses of water and margaritas.
Franco looked up at me. We made eye contact. I blurted out: "Hi! I think you deserved the Oscar nomination for Milk, not Josh Brolin."
Now we can all agree, that this may not have been the most eloquent thing to say to Mr. Franco. Perhaps, I should have said: "I loved you in 'Milk.' " I did not. My mistake. But Franco did not handle himself remarkably well either.
"Whoa, man, don't knock Josh. He was amazing. He deserved everything he got," he responded in a very Franco kind of way.
"Oh well I think he got nominated this year 'cuz he didn't get nominated for 'No Country' last year." I was beginning to sound slightly anxious. The pitch of my voice moving ever so slightly upward.
"Dude, hold up. He's my colleague. You can't dis him like that." His hands were up in the air, resembling Diana Ross stopping her lover in the name of love.
"I was just trying to compliment you," I replied dejectedly.
"Compliment accepted, man."
I turned to my mother and said, "Ok, let's go." My mother asked who that was, I said James Franco. She asked "who?" Yes, exactly.. .who was that?
Since then, he has managed to work himself under my skin with his ubiquity. A collection of short stories? Attending Yale for a PhD? Teaching a class on himself (himself??? himself???) at Columbia (who the hell accepted that syllabus?)? Hosting the OSCARS???! I could go on and on...
His precious attitude of ennui whenever he is interviewed further aggravates me. Oh, poor, poor Franco, you are so put upon! I am so sorry your life is so difficult.
At the red carpet of the SAG awards. Nameless white girl asking the great cliché: "Who are you wearing?" Franco's response: "Well, I model Gucci, so I HAVE to wear Gucci." Oh, I am so sorry you have no agency! you are merely a tool of the great capitalist game. How will you ever escape? God, having to wear Gucci whenever you leave the house, that sounds downright awful!
When he received his Oscar nomination: "Did you do a little Oscar Dance?" Franco: "No, it was like any other day." Oh yeah, this is the first of many nominations, why get excited? You are the male Meryl Streep.
Oh and on his performance in "127 Hours": Mr Franco believes it is unprecedented in film history. Because in "Castaway" Tom Hanks had the volleyball to talk to. Yes, Mr. Franco you have reinvented cinema.
Then he says in some interview that he "has a high metabolism for productivity and creativity." You know something, I think you have a high metabolism for being a dilettante and a hack!
When he was interviewed by James Lipton for "Inside the Actor's Studio," Franco told a lengthy anecdote about the prosthetic arm he had to saw through for the climactic scene of the movie. "The makeup guy told me I wouldn't be able to saw through it, but, you know what, I did." WOW! where is your Nobel Prize? Can you also solve the crisis in the Middle East when you have a second? Maybe next Thursday between 10 am and 11 am? I think you have a free space in your schedule.
Now go back to studying for your seminars at Yale. I am sure you can get through three novels and several hundred of pages of theory in your sleep. You are just that talented. I am sure there were no students in this world better qualified for that one slot at Yale. I am sure of that.
Oh Jimmy, I used to like you, but look at what it has come to. Just bitterness. So sad.