How to Get Over Your James Franco Complex

by Daniel Roberts

So now James Franco has a Best Actor nomination. And if he wins, he’ll accept the award at this year’s Oscars, which he’s hosting. Looks like we need to talk.

There are some people (this one) who have heard other people (you all) complaining about James Franco with increasing frequency. Calling all of the past year’s balls-out Francofest coverage “hype.”

Yes, James Franco was once a mere actor, but then he started adding additional professions like they were Pinkberry toppings: Author. Soap opera star. Carob chips. Director. Art exhibition curator. Cap’n Crunch. Short filmmaker. Gummi bears. Creative writing student. Creative writing instructor. Buddy of Gary Shteyngart. Pal of Marina Abramovic. And now he’s adapting As I Lay Dying and Blood Meridian. I know, it’s hard to stomach.

But the hater doth protest too much! Chances are high you don’t actually resent James Franco, you want to be James Franco. We all do: He represents the manifestation of truths we do not want to face (if a Renaissance man like this can exist and flourish, maybe we’re not so awesome after all). I’ve gotten over my denial, however, and here are a few tips and things to remember in your quest to do the same.

– Get real.

Lay to rest your absurd ambitions. We all remember being young and feeling like every job or role in life appealed to us and was within reach — the world was an open sky, and we were going to hop on a cloud and zoom to the moon of fame and success. At times, you’ve wanted to be an actor, writer, singer, and model. You believed you could do any or all of those things, but you can do none of them. Only James Franco can.

– At least he can’t do them all equally well.

When the self-pity is too much, remember that James Franco is just a dabbler in disguise. Maybe even a sort of dilettante. Sure, even his less impressive work is probably better than whatever you’re doing, but re-read the reviews of his short story collection Palo Alto. This will help.

– You aren’t going to sell yours anyway.

I know you have that novel on the hard drive, waiting to be published. You would have loved to finish it up — that or a book of short stories — and get profiled by Sam Anderson. I wanted that, too. But James Franco did those things already, in a single year, and there’s only room for one dicknose in Paris. Besides, his mediocre book got blurbs by Amy Hempel and Susan Minot. Your book (my book) just sucks.

– He’s not so smart.

He can read Pynchon on movie sets all he wants, but James Franco is still the same kid who recently told James Lipton, “When I sign on to a movie, I consider it my job to help the director achieve his or her vision. To some people that’s, just, like, no duh.”

– There are others more deserving of your scorn.

Elle gushed, “Even over the phone, you can tell that this is a sweetheart of a guy.” What man wouldn’t read that and think, ‘Hey! What about me, I’m a sweetheart of a guy too!’ But stop worrying. Men: you and James Franco are not competing for the same women. And if it’s good looks you resent, hate this guy instead. Or this one. Or him. Besides, you’d know better than to sport that sleaze ‘stache he’s currently rocking, right?

– He’s not that hot anyway.

Women and gay men: keep saying this. “Psssh, he’s overrated. I wouldn’t hook up with him.” People will maybe believe you.

– You’re doing a great job.

Relax. You’re doing stellar work at your non-famous job in your non-famous life, and the fam is proud. They wouldn’t want to see you in a Linda Lovelace biopic anyway.

Now buck up, and go watch him hack off a limb.

Daniel Roberts is a magazine reporter in New York, originally from Boston.

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