In the ongoing hall-of-mirrors-that-have-James-Franco’s-face-in-them that is the life of James Franco, the actor has recently stepped up his efforts to challenge people on their opinions regarding his sexual identity—specifically, the opinion that they don’t particularly care about James Franco’s sexual identity. Apathy is the one true Achilles’ heel for James Franco, who requires constant attention for his art that is mostly about how difficult is to have everyone paying attention to him. And so he’s undertaken several projects of late that force the viewer to confront their feelings about James Franco’s sexual habits, as well as to fake having those feelings in the first place.
While that’s included social media experiments in which he flirts symbolically with teenage girls, the longest ongoing project from the mayor of Gay Town has been his attempt to convince others that he is gay—gay being the most artistic of sexualities. He’s remade imagined scenes from Cruising, eaten dildo cakes, jizzed on Batman’s head, and recently photographed himself cuddling up to male actors to create the illusion that he’s just had sex with them. But his most common, recurring motif is Seth Rogen, who is frequently the sensual, undulating orchid to Franco’s Georgia O’Keefe.
Following on the hairy backs of their parodies of Kanye West’s “Bound 2” video and the Kanye/Kim Kardashian Vogue cover—and reminding everyone that This Is The End is a documentary—Franco has also released several paintings, sort of, paying tribute to Rogen. The first was a series of collages featuring outtakes from the “Bound” video, with Franco scrawling the words “HOTSEX” and putting little photos of Ronald Reagan on them, because of the politics of sex and art and collages you make for your friends. Now comes these two new paintings, “Big Bear” and “Seth At Play,” which reveal another side to Franco’s obscure object of desire—namely, his taint.
Of course, as pointed out at Queerty, in keeping with James Franco’s style of paying homage to other artists by simply sticking himself in their work—see also: his new gallery of Cindy Sherman recreations, everything he’s ever done on James Dean (i.e. everything)—these paintings are just copied from someone else. As the artist himself says in Queerty’s comments, Christopher Schulz released the original drawings in 2011 in his self-published book. More famously, he sent them to Seth Rogen, who then showed them to the world on Conan.
Some people have already pointed out on Instagram that Franco should give credit to Schulz, though he’s yet to reply. Still, given that Franco recently defended Shia LaBeouf’s own plagiarism as “an act of rebellion” and “a kind of critique,” it seems likely that Franco’s own plagiarism is meant to make its own statement. That statement, as always, is “Look at me, I’m James Franco!”