In An Op-Ed For 'NYTimes,' James Franco Explores Shia LaBeouf’s Recent Antics
I’m not sure why James Franco decided to take to The New York Times to address the antics of Shia LaBeouf, instead of doing what most celebrities do these days: Quip about it on Twitter. But that Franco, he’s better than Twitter. His opinions have value, damnit, and they deserve more than 140 characters. The only appropriate vehicle for the musings of James Franco is the goddamn New York Times, thank you very much.
So why, James, did Shia lash out?
This behavior could be a sign of many things, from a nervous breakdown to mere youthful recklessness. For Mr. LaBeouf’s sake I hope it is nothing serious. Indeed I hope — and, yes, I know that this idea has pretentious or just plain ridiculous overtones — that his actions are intended as a piece of performance art, one in which a young man in a very public profession tries to reclaim his public persona.
Yes, James, but how can we bring this all back around to the most important topic at hand, James Franco?
At times I have felt the need to dissociate myself from my work and public image. In 2009, when I joined the soap opera “General Hospital” at the same time as I was working on films that would receive Oscar nominations and other critical acclaim, my decision was in part an effort to jar expectations of what a film actor does and to undermine the tacit — or not so tacit — hierarchy of entertainment.
Now quick, before your audience loses interest, say something painfully obvious, but say it like you’re the first person who ever arrived at this conclusion.
Any artist, regardless of his field, can experience distance between his true self and his public persona. But because film actors typically experience fame in greater measure, our personas can feel at the mercy of forces far beyond our control. Our rebellion against the hand that feeds us can instigate a frenzy of commentary that sets in motion a feedback loop: acting out, followed by negative publicity, followed by acting out in response to that publicity, followed by more publicity, and so on.
Participating in this call and response is a kind of critique, a way to show up the media by allowing their oversize responses to essentially trivial actions to reveal the emptiness of their raison d’être. Believe me, this game of peek-a-boo can be very addictive.
And now, say something completely wrong:
I think Mr. LaBeouf’s project, if it is a project, is a worthy one.
Thank you, James Franco, for this enlightening therapy session, and for finding yet another outlet for which you can enter our lives. Thank God you have 12 films coming out in the next year, because we were really starting to miss you, since Homefront, three months ago.