If there's one indisputable truism of the 21st century, it's that James Franco can do pretty much whatever he wants. He's one of Hollywood's most sought-after actors (every bit as comfortable in dramas like 'Milk' as he is smoking a cross joint and mumbling "I thought hurricane season was over" in lighter fare like 'Pineapple Express'), and he's not just nominated for an Oscar this year, he's also co-hosting the ceremony. Moreover, the dude is gearing up to direct an episode of soap opera mainstay 'General Hospital,' and it would seem as if he's simultaneously attending approximately 93 percent of the country's finest graduate schools.
But apparently that's not enough, as Movieline is reporting that Franco has tired of spending all his time in academia as a student, and so he'll soon begin teaching a course of his own at Columbia College Hollywood (not affiliated with Columbia University, from which Franco received his MFA in 2010). Professor James Franco might seem like a bit of a stretch, but surely none of Columbia College Hollywood's tenured faculty knows quite as much about the subject of the course: James Franco.
"Master Class: Editing James Franco ... With James Franco" is what the class is called, and according to Columbia College Hollywood's press release, its curriculum will allow "12 of the private film school's best editing students [to] create a 30-minute documentary film from videographic footage from Mr. Franco's own unorthodox career." Yup, students enrolled in the course will dedicate their time to making a short film about James Franco, under the occasional tutelage and guidance of James Franco.
The press release explains: "Mr. Franco's frequent collaborator and editor Tyler Danna is teaching the course ... Mr. Franco is providing the footage -- much of it from behind the scenes on short films he has directed -- and the conception for the course and will speak to the students weekly via live feed (Skype) and attend the weekly class sessions when his schedule allows. The student editors will seek to create a cinematic image of James Franco through the footage."
So ... the course is using Franco as a conduit to explore the parallel notions of public persona and the death of privacy in the 21st century? Or perhaps it's about a celebrity's capacity to reclaim his own image? Or maybe it's just about James Franco doing pretty much whatever he wants. That said, the press release ominously concludes that "the class sessions themselves will be taped and be part of the final film created by the class or another project ... There is the potential to carry the class forward with 12 different editors in the spring quarter and beyond as the film project continues." So what they're saying is that the course could ultimately serve as the foundation of something much larger. Has James Franco stumbled upon an unprecedentedly brilliant and cost-effective means of getting people to make a biopic about himself?
Who knows. All that's clear is that this is James Franco's world, and we're just gawking at it. It actually seems rather neat to us that an actor is using his celebrity to such compelling ends, and making of his life whatever he sees fit, rather than falling lockstep into the pre-determined rules by which all James Dean reincarnates must abide. What say you? Does this bear the footprint of an empowered intellectual, a young man having fun with his life, or a pretty actor drunk on his own ego? And what will he do next?
While you ponder that, check out a video below of Franco at Sundance making up his own foul-mouthed lyrics for the 'Three's Company' theme song.