James Franco interviewing Girl James Franco is the most James Franco thing you’ll read today
On Monday, James Franco sat down with James Franco in order to discuss a topic James Franco is well-versed in: James Franco.
In an interview with i-D Magazine, the actor, filmmaker, writer, artist, and everything in between decided to “get in touch with his feminine side” by having a conversation with an imaginary woman-version of himself. The interview is, in a word, weird. (This is not because of Franco’s choice to “play with gender,” and more because it’s odd to see someone interview themselves in any capacity.) The whole thing feels a bit like reading a transcript of Franco’s internal dialogue, and, as a result, it has some confounding moments.
But there are also some surprising moments of clarity about the film industry at large, and how important it is we diversify on-screen narratives. Throughout the interview, Girl James Franco skewers Boy James Franco for some of his less-than-savory tendencies. She calls him out for his privilege as a white, upper middle class male from Palo Alto; and challenges him to do more to help women and minorities tell their stories.
“I’m sick of seeing handsome white [men] brood all over the screen,” Girl James Franco laments. “Who cares? You are the most privileged group of people in the world! At least give some others a chance to air their woes on screen. . . Give girls a chance. Give others a chance.”
To be frank, I like Girl James Franco more than I like Boy James Franco. She tells it like it is, and actually has some very smart things to say about privilege. In particular, she perfectly nails the idea that, while we all cope with problems and experience tragedy, personal struggle does not negate the existence of privilege.
“Everyone has problems. But for a long time privilege has been feeding privilege. I’m about giving some other people a shot,” she says. The two go back and forth, before she ultimately shuts down her male counterpart by explaining “what you’re not accounting for are the pressures and circumstances imposed on individuals because of where they are born, and who their parents are. What their race is, what their sex is. What their health is like, and how available medical care is. You were raised upper middle class in Palo Alto, by liberal parents who went to Stanford and Harvard, there was very little that wasn’t at your disposal. So, yeah, you could be whoever you wanted to be, because all the tools were within your reach.”
The interview is self-indulgent, but it’s also pretty self-aware. (Whether or not that self-awareness is an intentional artistic choice, who’s to say?) It’s obvious Franco knows how to poke fun of himself: He was an over-the-top self-parody in 2013’s This Is The End, and later that year, he allowed himself to be the man of the hour at a Comedy Central Roast. During the latter, his jabs felt more like someone who spends too much time over-thinking things than someone regurgitating what he’s seen in the tabloids. The i-D interview reads in the same way.
Whether intentionally or not, the interview also brings up plenty of questions about gender stereotypes and identity. I won’t delve into it here, but it’s worth a read in its entirety to form your own opinions. The whole thing is also, of course, only the beginning of a much larger conversation: It primarily focuses on representation for cis women, when in actuality, our need for diversity in Hollywood extends to all marginalized groups.
Nonetheless, it gets one thing right. At the end of the interview, Girl James Franco invites Boy James Franco to join her girl gang and dismantle society’s gender stereotypes. When Mr. Franco inquires as to what that entails, Ms. Franco gives the perfect response.
“It means that in everything we do, we support women,” she says. “We support women at all costs. And women of all types, classes, and races. The men have ruled for too long. It’s time for the women to step up.”
(Image via Denis Makarenko / Shutterstock.com.)