Spoiler alert: James Franco is probably a creep.
If you’ve been living under a rock, or you’re just predisposed to tuning everything out into blissful white noise whenever someone mentions James Franco (I don’t blame you) you may not have heard that Franco is a total pedo who scams on teenage girls via Instagram. Allegedly. Yesterday, some social media booty callin’ in the form of Instagram selfies leaked online. A 17-year-old Scottish girl named Lucy uploaded a series of messages to imgr.com after being sufficiently creeped out by James Franco. Lucy met Franco earlier that night after his Broadway performance in Of Mice and Men. She took some video of them on her phone and he was like, “You’ve got to tag me!” which I guess passes as game nowadays. Lucy went home, tagged Franco in the video and the rest, as they say, is Internet history.
Franco direct-messaged Lucy via Instagram and then presumably got her phone number and texted her as well.
Note: It looks like she’s since deleted her Instagram account and the posts in question, but what goes on the Internet lives forever.
Many people, myself included, weren’t sure if this was legit. It definitely seems like it’s really James Franco (although the images could be easily Photoshopped) but the theory quickly spread that this was actually a marketing ploy for his upcoming film, Palo Alto. In the film, which is based on his short story anthology of the same name, Franco will play “Mr. B.,” an older man who begins an affair with a teenage girl (played in the film by Emma Roberts). Palo Alto is on the festival circuit right now and just ripe for some good publicity…taking that into account, plus Franco’s completely self-obsessed affinity for performance art and metafiction, it seemed kind of likely that this was a stunt. But this morning, Franco appeared on Live With Kelly and Michael and talked about the entire situation.
Now okay, let’s take a step back here. While she’s technically of consenting age, I am highly uncomfortable at the idea of James Franco, 35-year-old grown man, trying to hook up with a young and impressionable fan. I mean, that is so gross on so many levels…and then using Instagram to do it? What a creep. Why are Kelly and Michael just chuckling like, “We’ve all been there! Ha ha!” No dude, we have not. I have actually never been in the situation where I’ve accidentally sent a series of insistent text messages to a child, asking them if they want me to rent a hotel room so we can hook up. That has literally not once ever happened to me. And while I don’t know Kelly or Michael personally, I am going to go out on a limb and say it’s not a situation they’ve been in, either. So why are we laughing it off? Why are we so willing to accept that this was a harmless mistake, a dating mishap? Is it because it is, in actuality, a publicity stunt? Or is it because we’re just very eager to forgive young, talented, rich white men for being complete pervs? I don’t know. One can only speculate for now.
Like a lot of people, I’m still hesitant to believe whether this whole thing is real. It’s not so much that I believe in James Franco, but I am very cynical about the new world we live in, where Internet hoaxes are the norm and salacious rumors are the hottest way to advertise your personal brand. If he comes forward tomorrow and says, “Hey, actually, this is my big statement on the truth behind human relationships in the age of social media and how the selfie is the new form of sexual identity,” I will roll my eyes and nod and expect nothing less. If it turns out that James Franco is just a total scum bag who likes to scam on teens via Instagram? Well, that actually wouldn’t surprise me, either.