James Franco is feeling the backlash. Whose fault is it?


Image Credit: Mark J. Terrill/AP Images

The unwavering, almost manic fascination the media — that’s us! — had for every film, book, art show, and moderately impressive bowel movement James Franco produced in 2010 was pretty much the gluttonous equivalent of eating an entire pint of Chubby Hubby while watching a Man vs. Food marathon. Afterward, you feel gross, exhausted, and strangely resentful toward both Ben and Jerry.

In a far-reaching interview with Playboy, which reads a bit like a post-mortem on his crazy last 365 days, Franco discusses everything from his penchant for academia, to the “petty scumbags” at Gawker, to the short, happy life of his Twitter feed. But the really interesting aspect of the piece is Franco’s perception of the post-Oscars backlash, which he sees as unnecessarily persecutory and describes as, “‘He’s doing too many things. Let’s get him.'” The actor is generally as self-aware as Skynet, and any celebrity is expected to defend themselves, but he seems especially bothered by this development. 

In all fairness, his Oscar stint was no success — he admits as much to Playboy, saying, “I felt kind of trapped in that material. I felt, This is not my boat. I’m just a passenger, but I’m going down and there’s no way out.” Your Highness was a critical bomb, and judging by his expectation-lowering comments in the interview, August’s Rise of the Planet of the Apes probably won’t signal a second Oscar nomination. But the fallow period aside, is it possible he’s right about people’s eagerness to take him down a peg or two? Personally, I don’t think it’s so much the sense that he’s doing too much. I mean, that’s what made us so obsessed about him last year. It’s probably more the post-Chubby Hubby grip of self-loathing and over-satiation, where we just had so much Franco that we can’t even bear to look at him anymore and we promise ourselves never to consume so much Franco in one sitting ever again.

In interviews last year, he seemed baffled by the fact that people had arbitrarily decided to deem him the most interesting man in Hollywood, and now he just seems resigned to the backlash. “Last year people were pretty nice,” he says in the Playboy interview. “This is the year when people are going to have fun going after me.” At this point, based on the tidal charts of celebrity, he’s probably right, but I think it’s more likely we all just need some time to digest.

What do you guys think? Are you still as interested in Franco as you were a year ago, or are you in full backlash mode? More importantly, how many of you are brave enough to admit to eating a pint of ice cream at once? Don’t worry, the Internet is an entirely judgment-free zone.

Read more:
James Franco seeking ANOTHER PhD at University of Houston
James Franco talks Oscars bombing with Letterman: ‘I think the Tasmanian Devil would look stoned standing next to Anne Hathaway’
Oscar Hosts: Did James Franco and Anne Hathaway do a good job?

Comments (97 total) Add your comment
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  • Justin

    People need to get over this and stop talking about it already. So he didn’t do so well at the Oscars. Who cares? It means absolutely nothing and reveals nothing about his acting ability. They can’t all be great. Next host please.

    • Justin

      This is the very definition of creating a story where there is none. There is not one actor in the history of film who continuously makes good movies. Everyone does flops, or films that aren’t so critically acclaimed. The guy can’t be expected to give us something good each time out. And who cares if he’s over worked? Really. He’s no different than any other actor ever, so why is he being singled out? I’m so confused by this whole article.

    • bruno

      couldn’t agree more. franco did what franco got, which was crap. don’t blame him in the least. he still rules. still think he’s brilliant. still love the crap out of him.

    • Tarc

      Exactly. Franko was dull (as most actors are offscreen) and Hathaway was charming. The writing was poor – very boring (as Franko mentioned). Beyond that, who cares. This is a total non-issue invented and continued by the pree to cover some column space in a very, very dull summer, nothing more.

    • avenger

      Its not just the Oscars, he is just annoying in general. Yeah he didnt endear himself with the oscars thing, but the weirdo soap stuff, the charming smile that became smug over the last little while, thats what people are picking up on

      • FernLaPlante

        Why the “weirdo” soap stuff comment? SO he took a gig on General Hospital? He wants to improve his acting skills and try out different mediums. The rapid-fire shoots of soaps combined with the dozens of scrips a week is apparently like an adrenaline rush performing a new play each day. I admire him for trying something different. It’s not “weird” it’s called being a professional.

      • Lyndsey

        Soap actors work harder than anyone else in the business, a fact that Franco has mentioned many times. And his work on GH has been absolutely stellar. He is absolutely hysterical while also being downright creepy & a little frightening! I admire him for being willing to step outside of the box & be different!

      • Esme

        Oh please! He was on a SOAP OPERA–what’s next, a late-night infomercial ala Shoe-dini? I suggest he stop exploring other “mediums”(sic) before he alienates every one of his fans.

    • Mr. Holloway

      I’m an admirer of his movie work (he was particuarly brilliant in “127 Hours” and “Milk”) and I love that the guy pursues all his artistic passions. (Honestly, I’m a bit jealous.)

      What I don’t like is that he still seems to be fixated on his failed Oscar hosting gig. Yes, the writing was hopelessly stale and he ended up being a terrible fit for the more formal Oscars, but putting all the blame on the writers or the media who are looking to take him down a peg ignores one crucial point: he was BAD.

      I wish he’d stop finding excuses as to why he was so bad and take on some of the responsibility. More importantly, I wish he’d just move on and stop talking about it.

    • Brian K

      I think to most people he’s still just “that supporting actor guy” from Spiderman and they wonder why he’s getting all this press as if he’s important.

    • JV

      I ate a pint of Blue Bell’ Cookies and Cream ice cream last night. I have felt crappy all day.

  • cajo

    Don’t have a problem with him. However, I didn’t ‘over-consume’ him either. I’m sure it makes a difference.

    • crispy

      I’m all about Dave Franco these days.

  • joni

    Leave him alone. He seems like a nice, talented guy just trying to get the most out of life. Those who criticize should mind their own business and try the same.

  • azjeff

    FIRST! James is cool. No backlash from me.

    • azjeff

      dang work prevented me from being first.

      • FernLaPlante

        Because being “FIRST” makes you awesome? GMAB

  • Rob Paren

    Neal Brennan was hired to write for the Oscars and stated how none of his material was used. When you have Apatow/Brennan at your disposal and choose not use them then yes the writing is the issue. None of the jokes were funny. At the same, Franco clearly seemed like he was out of it. If it was because he hated the material then he has learned valuable lesson. When you commit to something, make the best of it. If he had, this backlash would be much worse. He is natural charming guy and he seemed deflated at the Oscars.

    • Rob Paren

      Meant the backlash wouldn’t be as bad.

  • Cris

    “…and moderately impressive bowel movement …”
    You know, I understand that the internet is different from newspapers or magazines, and that EW.com is becoming more blogs than news stories, but seriously, is THIS where it’s headed? C’mon, EW, you can do better. leave the potty humor to South Park … THEY know how to make it funny.

    • Jim

      No offense, but I haven’t heard anyone use the phrase “potty humor” since my 2nd grade teacher.

      • Dr. Lola Ph.D., Ed.D.

        I’m a teacher. The term “potty humor” is completely acceptable at any age.

      • Dr. Zelda Ph.D.

        I’m an etymologist, and I say NO. Leave the term “potty humor” to the ages (like, the 1960s) where it belongs, granny.

    • Jules

      Bonus tip: timing a Tabata can be a pain by ylrsueof. If you take time to reset a stop watch for 10 seconds rest you are actually resting longer. There are numerous iPhone and Android Tabata timer apps and Tabata timers for laptops. Or you can Google GYMBOSS. Its a cool little timer that can beep for various work/rest cycles and its $20.

  • e4ia

    I still like him. His biggest mistake was excepting the Oscar gig. The producers wanted to make the show young and hip (it wasn’t)and he , not being a comedian, was totally out of his element and it showed. I mean really… putting him in Marilyn Monroe drag? Really? He is talented and smart enough to bounce back from this bump in his career.

  • Thomas

    Just a bunch of lame excuses from Franco. The whole article was a whine-fest.

  • Lisa

    Who is he and what has he done? Everyone was ecstatic when he signed on to GH, then hosted the Oscars. Seriously, until then I’d never heard of him. I realize I live under a rock — so, again, who is he and what has he done to garner any kind of media/public adoration?

    • Anonymous

      He’s an actor who does a lot of other things… do you not know how to use google?

    • Emma

      He was compelling the Spiderman trilogy, sensational in Milk, hilarious in Pineapple Express and got and Oscar nom for 127 hours. Those are the highlights.

      • Lisa

        He was in Pineapple Express? Loved the movie, still don’t know who he is.

    • Grubi

      In no particular order:

      -Freaks & Geeks
      -127 Hours
      -The Spiderman Movies
      -Pineapple Express
      -Wrote Palo Alto
      -Takes college graduate courses
      -Teaches college courses
      -Hosted Oscars
      -General Hospital
      -Played James Dean in TV movie
      -Date Night
      -City By the Sea
      -Does performance art
      -Your Highness
      -Rise of Planet of the Apes

      • Lisa

        I suppose I should learn more about him — grew up in the same town I did. Unfortunately, like many of today’s artists — he’ll be a D-lister in a few years …

      • thin

        And in that time, you will still be a non-lister (and I’d lay odds that you’ll be wrong about Franco’s status, too). I do think you’re pretty cool for posting three times about not knowing who he is, but if I’m going to give a nod to the person I think is more interesting and worthy of attention, it’s gonna be the talented and accomplished actor/director/writer/artist over the willfully ignorant woman on the EW message boards.

      • Alli

        You forgot Tristan and Isolde- such a great film!!!

      • Janie

        Sorry, but this untalented hack CANNOT call himself a writer–ever try to trudge through any of that crap he pens? It’s torture, torture I sayQ

    • Zoe

      Daniel Desario. ’nuff said.

  • jasmine

    my question is how does playboy always manage to get people to say things that they may regret? not just with james, but remember with john mayer, calling jessica simpson a … ?

    • crispy

      They distract them with boobies?

    • Voice of Reason

      sexual napalm

  • kelsey

    I’ve always thought J Franc was cool, and I don’t think anything’s going to change my mind about that.

  • abadstroller

    Franco is just doing what he wants because he wants to do it. He seems happy as a clam. It’s people (not just the magazine) writing about every little thing that he does because they can’t believe that any one person in show business can do more than two things. Media backlash? Not Franco’s fault.

  • Breanna

    He needs to take a hiatus for a year or two. Go off, get his grad school done, travel. Then, he can try and come back nicer.

    • Tarc

      And why should he be ‘nicer’? He’s obviously plenty ‘nice’, and in Hollywood, bing ‘nice’ doesn’t get you far.

  • M.

    Please find us a story to read and not an opinion!

  • 14 year old boy

    Why are people so harsh on his Oscar hosting abilities. No, he wasn’t the best, but he’s not a comedian and that was over four months ago. Let it go! And I don’t feel like he’s everywhere. I’ve only seen him in the Spiderman films and as the Oscar host. (I wanted to see 127 Hours, but my parents said no). He seems like a nice guy that wants to keep busy and try different things. What’s wrong with that?

    • Regina George

      It was four months ago and people are still talking about it. Really, get over it! Okay, he sucked. He understood he sucked. Problem solved. But now, four months later, another article about Franco’s Oscar bomb. It almost seems as if he’s now using it for more publicity.

      • abeille344

        The same thing happened in Canada three years ago. We talked and talked about it more than four months. In fact, it was not a bad show, but just one mistake. But it was enough to make a backlash. Well, everybody make mistakes. The comedian had his lesson. People get over it after he passed over himself. Franco probably live the same thing. It’s just a question of time.

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