Forever challenging society’s sexual mores, James Franco’s latest attempt to penetrate rarely explored spaces involved trying to pick up a 17-year-old girl on Instagram—a performance that soon became part of Franco’s larger, ongoing public exhibition, when the girl shared their exchange with the world. The two first began collaborating after one of Franco’s Broadway performances of Of Mice And Men, where the young, Scottish tourist met Franco in the autograph line and Instagrammed a video with him, prompting Franco to request that she tag him in it. When she did, Franco responded with a dialectic exploring the nature of human connection, and specifically whether theirs might get him into trouble with the cops.
Of course, even despite the age of consent being 17 in New York, and both parties being single, there was still some hesitation from the girl, who questioned whether their exchange was improper—or even genuine. (She also wondered aloud what “#” means—a meta exploration of the ever-shifting semiotics of communication, as well as the fact that 17 is still pretty fucking young.) As with all questions regarding art’s authenticity, James Franco answered these with James Franco’s face.
After their conversation was published, Franco entered the inevitable next phase of the performance—Franco’s commentary on Franco, which began with him changing his Instagram bio to include the line, “(PLEASE DON'T DM IF YOU ARE UNDER 18, THANK YOU),” then tweeting a denial in the form of a meme photo, to illustrate the self-cannibalizing of the Internet scandal cycle, or something.
But today Franco unveiled the inevitable thesis, appearing on Live With Kelly And Michael to discuss how the entire incident—like Franco’s Franco-endorsed performance in Spring Breakers—was just a reflection of our overly self-documented, Instagrammed age.
“I was feeling awkward—I didn’t want to come on the show and just feel awkward. I’m embarrassed,” said the man who made a movie where he wore a dick on his nose. “I guess I’m just a model of how social media is tricky. It’s way that people meet each other today, but what I’ve learned—I guess because I’m new to it—is you don’t know who’s on the other end. You get a feel for them, you don’t know who you’re talking to. I used bad judgment and I learned my lesson.” Franco also noted that he, like all of us, has to endure “the embarrassing kind of rituals of meeting someone,” but that his fame means he runs the risk of it being published for the world. “So now, it’s double embarrassing,” said Franco, who recently Instagrammed a photo of Batman drenched in jizz, further serving as an exemplar of how social media is tricky.
Of course, there are some who believe this entire incident was nothing but a performance art stunt, considering the suspiciously coincidental timing with Franco promoting Palo Alto—a film a based on Franco’s short stories, in which Franco plays a teacher engaged in illicit romance with a teenager—and also, considering the fact that it involves James Franco. And while that’s yet to be confirmed, obviously, the mere fact that he can get caught hitting on a 17-year-old girl and leave you debating whether it’s “art” represents the culmination of all that is James Franco.