James Franco has been on the planet for 37 years. Some are happy about that fact (me), while others aren’t (probably you). That’s okay. I’m not here to debate the intricacies of James Franco’s career choices, but instead discuss his poeticness.
It takes a lot to be a poet. While words are usually the tool to judge someone’s poetry ability, there is so much more to being a powerhouse of a poet than writing a great haiku. They’re like rappers, I mean, they are pretty much one and the same really. They not only embody the artistry of their craft, but they are solely dedicated to the lifestyle attached to it. Poetry should be treated as a way of life, a mantra to live by. Jaden Smith uses his tweets as a way to express his poetic sensibilities about space, time travel, North West and teen angst. Kylie Jenner takes selfies always with a pout and perfectly aligned lighting. Justin Bieber’s hair continues to be a cultural phenomenon, even post-Baby career. These are valuable skills that every poet should have.
So, can James Franco really be considered a poet amongst our generation’s current roster, including the likes of Jaden, Kylie and Justin? How does his hairstyle, tweeting ability and selfie game match up with the best of them? Well, we shall find out. Here is a definitive list of what it takes to be a real poet and how James fares in each:
James’ hairstyle hasn’t changed much over the last, say, 5 + years. We know what we get when we see James Franco hair. It’s dark and curly, the top either swept to the left or right and shorter on the sides. There is no experimentation, no daringness to try new things or experience a different cut. Could you call it his signature look? Sure. It doesn’t scream personality, though:
Think, on the other hand, of Justin Timberlake’s hair – it went from a noodle-looking texture (and blonde), to a number one, to a more downplayed darker look. Zayn Malik is also going through a similar transition period, a shaved head signalling an exciting new poetic chapter.
Alien – the gun, girl and grill-loving character James played in Spring Breakers – sported his most stand out hairstyle to date: white bro cornrows. Cultural appropriation isn’t a good look really but that was pretty much Alien for you. His whole person was a cultural appropriation.
Hair is easily James’ greatest poetic downfall.
3/10 (hardly a Poet at all)
Twitter is the social media platform for poets – it’s a poetry bible and tweeting is the test of your abilities to write it.
Poets are used to self-editing and quite adept at condensing their work; using the right words at the right time to evoke just the right amount of emotion. They know about working creatively around the limits of a format and using it to their advantage. (Think of the authors of the King James Bible).
James’ pens his tweets in stanzas, usually. Here’s a typical and recent tweet, which was linked back to his Instagram:
Although this tweet doesn’t show it James’ tweets have evolved slightly over time. Now, he actually occasionally uses emoji’s as a visual stimulant, most of which are either palm trees or hearts. But the lack of the 100 emoji is a shame.
He could definitely be better on the tweeting front.
His timeline shows promise of Jaden-levels of thought, but he isn’t quite there yet. His tweeting needs time to nurture and develop, to find a voice like’s he’s done with his Instagram selfies (See below).
5/10 (improvement needed- Bad Poet!)
How well can poets document their inner feelings without using a single word? Are they able to show us their pain, their longing and anguish with an iPhone 6 camera ? Do they pick the right emojis to compliment their emotions or utilize the filters that will look best with their makeup? What about the lighting and angles?
James takes you on a journey with his selfies. His Instagram is like a trip into the James Franco Hall of Mirrors. This is where James is at his most absolutely a poet and where we glimpse something deeper than his middling and superficial tweets and mundane hairstyle.
He’s uncensored on his Instagram timeline (smatterings of memes about himself, sometimes made by himself, James Franco, photos of himself with his buddy Seth Rogen, random rants at publications like Gawker, etc etc) in a way that he isn’t anywhere else online: a rare and mostly unexplored part of himself that feels much more authentic than any other ‘version’ of James that he puts out.
And, beautifully, James comes off, endearingly, a little lost in his Instagram pictures, a kind of vacant look in his charming eyes. A real connection is achieved in James’ selfies that you just don’t get from his blah-blah stanza tweets.
9/10 (quite the Poet!)
Poets need to have this trait in abundance. They need to feed off of it. It helps them to survive.
James is, naturally, a self deprecating individual. He can take the jokes that people throw at him and ride on them until they’re not funny anymore (if they ever were funny in the first place). But, he’s also really, really pretentious and he’s not ashamed of it at all:
James Franco Presents. A Novel By James Franco. James Franco’s Acting And Film School.
It’s like he’s an artist performing as James Franco and not the James Franco.
Poets shouldn’t be complete enigmas, but they also shouldn’t just show us everything. They have to be the kind of cool-mysterious that makes us want to be them, with them, or both. We need poets to create a dialogue between what is honest and true and what feels less real. James has started this conversation and created something of a balance between those two worlds. His selfies are a slice of authenticity and a glimpse at what the James Franco is really like, bite-sized and tasty chunks of a controversial figure.
Merchandise is an important part of pretentiousness, and James is now selling t-shirts, vests and sweatshirts with his face on printed on them. In the photo, he is taking a selfie!
10/10 (Consummate Poet!)
Instagram has revealed more about James than just his selfies. Before Palo Alto was released last year, James tried to hook-up with a 17 year old Scottish girl called Lucy via DMing on Insta. There were screencaps of conversations, photos. It went viral.
The conversation itself was rather boring (still creepy, though) which made people question whether it was just an elaborate ruse; a marketing ploy to get folks to see Palo Alto, where, incidentally, his character hooks up with a 17 year old girl. Because, of course a man couldn’t just be weirdly sexual to an underage young woman. There had to be some kind of explanation behind it.
Classically (poetically!), the scandal only elevated him more into the public conscious as a ‘great troll’ and nothing else was said after he publicly apologised on Kelly and Michael for the ‘faux-paus.’ The world moved on and he is still loved.
Through all the sorrows of being a poet, all the heartache they have to endure to pull their best selfie pose or to tweet their greatest stanza, there is still the potential to be a creepy dick also. Such is James Franco. Big points in this area.
9/10 (yeah, James is heavy on creep Poetry factor).
FINAL SCORE = 36/50
The verdict? James Franco. Oh, James Franco. He’s quite the poet doing his poetic thing. His tweets might need more work, but that’ll come with practice. He could be the next Cher or James Blunt on Twitter if he wanted to be. Maybe he’ll switch his hairstyle up a little bit too? He did have that shaved head look down for a while (but it was just for a film) so I have hopes.
If there’s one thing that we know, though, James Franco is a creepy, pretentious weirdo poet and I don’t think we’d want him to be anything else. (Also he likes cats, so that’s nice.)
P.S. Several times I typed in only "James" and I felt and still feel really bad about because it's weird to just call him ‘James’ when you feel like ‘Franco’ should naturally be attached. It's just how much weight his name and character holds. And it's all quite poetic.
Cherokee is a 20-something year old weirdo who has a morbid fascination with Justin Bieber, is a collector of toys and cute hats and enjoys reading comics, napping and snacking (usually in that order). More of her words can be found at cherokeeseebalack.tumblr.com and she tweets @TheCherokeeElf.