Mother Jones‘s blog publishes a denunciation of James Franco’s recent accession into the Ivy League — a move they view as dillentantism. It’d be a lot easier to accept Franco’s interest in academics, they argue, if he hadn’t just revealed himself as a hack in his Esquire short story. Says Mother Jones:
I say this with sympathy—it is a typical MFA workshop Frankenstein, a musing on youth, friendship, and death, replete with car crashes, sexual ambiguity, and one-off similes (“the shadows make it shadow-color”; “the black gaping gap”). It’s one of those pieces that you read aloud in class, then insist to your peers at the end that “It’s not autobiographical.”
Ouch! Um, we actually agree. The story is a piece of hackwork (“I love driving down an empty dark freeway, lit up intermittently by the lights at the side of the road, and when I see the lights, I think of all the little worlds out there, all the little animals living in their habitats out there…”). But what about Franco’s desire to just improve his miiiind, man?
The writer argues, this is all vanity! “You are not a frigging aspiring English professor or cultural critic.” Well, shrug, that’s exactly what he is. (Remember when he was in movies?) But he’s not a good one! Don’t blame the poor talentless writer/actor who just wants (for whatever reason) to accumulate degrees. Maybe Yale is to blame — they let him in, after all.
Where’s the slippery slope stop? How long before you endow a Coca Cola Distinguished Professorship of Advertising Semiotics? Before it’s the Nokia Yale Journal of Criticism?