You Needed His Opinion?
I've heard stories about some people in this industry, and I've told a few myself. Some ridiculous, and some just eyeroll-y, and a few really sweet. This is the nature of the beast, we talk constantly about the bold-face names we write about all the time, and if they're horrible to work with, everyone in the industry knows it. It's understood that the best gossip is saved for whispering to one another over drinks, because it's less traceable.
You know all this, of course. You read this site.
But what confounds me, after years of immersion in this business, is how few stories there are about James Franco. The occasional whispered speculation about who he prefers, but not much about diva fits or whiny demands or general doughiness. I've decided it's because there's no need to whisper. James Franco puts all his annoying traits right out in the open. He's not ashamed of them; in fact, he thinks you should learn from his expertise in all things.
His latest target is Girls. There is an entire cottage industry of talking about and deconstructing this show, and of course, I've been a part of it. (Click here for the recaps.) But part of the reason Girls gets so scrutinized is because people want it to be great, or have heard it should be great, so there's lots of real estate devoted to how it could be, and what would make it rise all the way to incredible.
James Franco in the Huffington Post is only interested in telling you how the show sucks, in his very, very educated opinion. He points out that Hannah should get a job, because that's the only way she'll learn things. He himself has lived by this credo, because when he was young his parents didn't want him to act and so that was hard...until he landed on a network show at the age of 20/21. Yeah. It's hard out there for a Franco.
But that pales in comparison to his further points: in one breath, he denigrates his MFA classmates whose lives, he thinks, are pretty well-reflected in Girls - and it's pretty clear he means it to be insulting - and in the next he points out how his “friends in New York” think it's all much ado about nothing. And still other “friends” - the diverse group of people he worked with in his MFA (the implication being that if others didn't have a diverse graduate school experience, it's their own self-selective fault) - don't see themselves represented in the show. All pretty well-worn arguments by this point in the game, but why should that bother James Franco? He's got an opinion, dammit - an educated one - and he wants you to know about it.
And then. AND THEN! Franco is irritated because he doesn't see himself represented in the show among the “drips” and “wussy hipsters”. Because of course, if the show isn't exactly representative of him and his life and his world, it doesn't deserve to be on the air, right? Then he goes into a thorough explanation of why the “wussy” guys are PAYBACK for vapid girls, who are in turn payback for the Entourage guys, who are payback for ...ugh. It's nice to know that we can't just have real representations of less-than-perfect versions of both sexes, unless it's “payback” for something. Fantastic.
But don't you worry, because James Franco has your interests at heart! In fact, he “can get off on female bonding”. THAT'S a relief. You wouldn't want to have bonding he couldn't identify with and get off on. You wouldn't want to make something that wasn't expressly appealing to a young white male member of the 1%. Phew. And Franco knows what's appealing, you guys, because he watched Steel Magnolias. So that makes him an expert in what ladies do, are and want. Thank God we have him looking out for us.
Anyway, Franco manages to insult Judd Apatow and Lena Dunham, ending with the incredibly witty “living well is the best revenge but sometimes writing well is even better”. BECAUSE HE WOULD KNOW.
Look, putting anything out into the public means it's open for criticism, and Franco is as entitled as anyone else to give his opinion, I guess. But when creators are asked “what do you think of critics” and they roll their eyes, please know it's this kind of straw-man article that they're thinking of.
Also, as friend Dean brilliantly pointed out, saying you “don't watch much tv” and then spouting off for a thousand words on a show kind of makes you a hypocrite and a liar AND insufferable, doesn't it?
Attached - James Franco and, like, pretty much EVERYBODY, on the set of The End Of The World yesterday.