James Franco and His Inability to Maintain His Personal Space Amongst Teenagers and More: A Reflection by MC Cross
When I was in eighth grade, I read James Franco’s book Palo Alto. To be quite honest, I don’t really remember the book itself, I just remember reading it. I recall finding solace in its pages and I remember thinking, “Oh my god, this is such a great book.” There was a lot going on in my life at the time—my parents had just divorced, and I had lost my virginity to a summer fling a month before. I was 13, about to turn 14, so almost about the same age as the character April. Spoiler alert: April has an affair with the high school football coach for two years, Mr. B. She babysits his son, he kisses her one night after a party, tells her he loves her, etc. Somewhat cliché. While I don’t remember the book, I do remember the film adaptation that came out around my senior year of high school. They changed April’s age to 16 or 17 and casted Emma Roberts. But guess who plays Mr. B? The author himself, James Franco. It should also be mentioned that this film was released after Franco’s “I tried having sex with a 17 year old” debacle, which according to Violet Paley’s tweets was not the only time he tried having sex with a 17 year old. In fact, one of the accusations on Violet Paley’s thread is that he hit on a 16 year old once as well.
Maybe this choice was on purpose. Maybe Franco put himself as some weird, twisted, sick easter egg in his own movie. Perhaps he did it to give the audience a perspective of his thought process. Regardless, the whole thing feels very Woody Allen to me (and I am specifically referring to this).
The argument that always seems to come up is the age of consent. And I would like to add my own insight on that because this issue does not only pertain to Mr. Franco, but Scott Disick and Leo DiCaprio to name a few. Just because someone has now reached the age of consent doesn’t mean it’s all of a sudden okay to start preying on young girls. As I mentioned, I had sex for the first time when I was very young and as someone who was sexually active at 17, I would totally date those guys. They’re good looking, charming and funny. My generation grew up having them as heartthrobs. But as someone who would try and pursue older men, there was always a part of me that was like “This just doesn’t feel right yet. I can’t even go to bars with you. I’m literally a teenager. You can’t hang out with my friends because there would be nothing to talk about.” And even despite all of that, there was this general discomfort of why on earth does this person who is a tax-paying, homeowning, old enough to have children in elementary school ‘Merican want to hang out with me, a literal child still living at home with my parents and barely out of high school. It’s not just celebrities, it’s everywhere. The only difference with celebrities is that it's in every major tabloid.
On the other side of things, there are the VERY RARE instances in which these relationships seem to occur, and both people are very happy and thrive. But for people like Franco who apparently scripts sexual harrasment and or assault instead of, oh I don’t know, asking, I doubt that will likely be the case. James, Jimmy, Jim-Jam, Baby, you’re an actor and you’ve written scripts before. You honestly couldn’t think of a sexy way to ask for a favor? No, you couldn’t. Because your privileges of fame and wealth and being a cis/white heterosexual male made you think “Well, she’s consented to sexual advances before, and I’m James Franco, so of course she will gladly give me pleasure because that’s what I want, and that’s what I’m gonna get.” And soon, there will be articles about your apology, or a lack there of, like the others who have been accused before you. So here’s something to think about when you’re formulating your apology or ignoring it all together: maybe the reason you don’t remember that particular instance happening the way it’s been recalled is because you’ve done it so many times you don’t even know it’s not okay to do. Check yourself before you wreck yourself, Francy Franc.
More about the author: I'm an agender latinx from Atlanta, GA studying magazine writing at the University of Missouri. I love to write (obviously), laugh and tear down the victim blaming, slut shaming, white supremacist capitalist patriarchy one day at a time. In my free time, catch me playing with my cat, watching my fav shows, studying Latinx LGBT culture, drinking a cold one and exercising my right as a 21+ year old American to smoke.