and no, no, ALAS. he is not taking my unsolicited career advice and starring in a salvadore dali biopic so my unsolicited career advice still stands.
no, instead of improving upon his craft, my boyfriend adrien brody has branched out. into other crafts.
just the words “art basel” are, to me, a time machine back to demi moore, 2012. so my first thought was to immediately mentally insert my boyfriend adrien brody into all those pictures. like a paper doll.
my second thought- because it was late at night and i wake up at 4:30 a.m. so my mental processes and sheer ability to read suffer a major drop off around 3 p.m., which is when i was reading this (and, yes, i just suggested that 3 p.m. is “late at night”), was that my boyfriend adrien brody would be debuting his work at lululemon…
so my boyfriend adrien brody is going to be an artiste.
which perhaps calls to mind a certain someone else…
as my other boyfriend alan cumming asked benny in circle of friends: WHO IS THIS… THIS SOMEONE ELSE??
it feels a little franco, non?
riddle me this: does any actor branching out into other artistic mediums now feel a little franco? (despite people’s ability to produce work in multiple mediums being nothing new.)
my former celebrity boyfriend james franco’s art is now five years old. this realization, in turn, begged the question of the status of james franco’s many degrees, which led me to wikipedia where the length of the “education” section of james franco’s entry made me laugh out loud.
(for the record: it is three paragraphs longer than stephen hawking’s.)
oh bless him.
there was a moment in late 2009-2010, where i thought james franco and i were destined to be together. we were rocking the same glasses and typewriter. he had an art show and of course it had a crazily pretentious title that made no sense and of course it consisted of upwards of five different artistic mediums and of course it explored sexual confusion and a romantic encounter between spock and james t. kirk. all of which was like a siren call to my 2010 self.
then we all got a little older and he dyed his hair blonde and i dyed mine red and moved to london and things fizzled out.
(though this is making me rethink the fizzling…)
and i now hold this as yet un-interrogated belief (let the interrogation begin!) that, to some degree, franco has ruined diversification for everyone.
simply in having so many careers (in 2013, paste tried to break them down and came up with 11).
i appreciate full-onness as much as the next person, but let’s be real: to be simultaneously enrolled in an MFA at columbia, the tisch school, and brooklyn college whilst attending the MFA program at warren wilson is beyond.
i am not laughing at franco getting an education. i am laughing at franco simultaneously getting four educations.
to enroll in one degree program is a bold life choice. to enroll in four is… madcap? madness? ridic?
i’m trying to dig into my emotional response here to understand the full meanings of what i think of as franco-ing.
it carries a connotation of doing so many things that none of them can possibly be done to the fullest of one’s ability.
everything he is doing is creative so there is integration in that sense, but still…
i think what i am suggesting is that, in going so over the top, in doing all of the arts rather than focusing on one or two, franco is now a sort of poster-person for professional excess. by which i mean an excess of careers.
so that when i hear my boyfriend adrien brody is exhibiting art at art basel, i immediately think franco!
and, in thinking franco! i am thinking that my boyfriend adrien brody’s art will be indulgent; i am dismissing it. despite the seriousness of its subjects (ie. violence in american culture) and my own work’s involvement with those same subjects.
i am helped in this dismissal through the word choice of the article bringing me this news about my boyfriend adrien brody, which is perhaps not surprising as it’s coming from page six.
where the word “recreationally” does my boyfriend adrien brody no favors.
as it renders as play and casts in the realms of drug usage and raves something which has more likely been an ongoing serious interest.
true story: i suspect everyone’s serious interests would sound ludicrous if filtered through the prose of page six.
what i’m not quite managing to get at here, and which has nonetheless been behind this whole blog post, is the problem of indulgence.
by extension probably also the problem of privilege but that’s such a loaded term now that i do not want to go there and indulgence also, in this case, seems more apt.
it appeared to me in 2010, and still appears to me now, indulgent for franco to have been enrolled in four degree programs.
in thinking about privilege or indulgence we almost always think personally. it is my privilege, my indulgence, your privilege, james franco’s privilege. these conversations almost never hold institutions to account. specifically, the thing that grates most for me here has less to do with franco and everything to do with the institutions who accepted him.
sidenote: i do not want to undercut franco’s talent. i believe he is talented. but i also believe columbia, the tisch school, brooklyn college, warren wilson, and now yale were pleased as punch to have The James Franco enrolled and to have the stardust associated with celebrity enrollment.
and i think it is that other side of this equation that is so annoying- the allowances institutions make for people who are well known.
but that’s not sexy at all and so, somewhere in the circuits of our brains, it gets flipped and thrown back at the person for whom such allowances are made.
so that james franco sucks because james franco is ridiculous because james franco tried to earn four degrees.
to be clear, i’m speaking as superficially as possible here- plumbing the superficial response rather than analyzing the biographical fact of franco’s enrollment or education. because i think franco actually matters very little in the story of james franco getting four degrees. something which may sound absolute bonkers given that franco is ostensibly the protagonist.
but he’s the protagonist out of necessity. because the story becomes ludicrously complicated and far less interesting when we tilt it the other way:
so that columbia, the tisch school, brooklyn college and the MFA program at warren wilson suck because columbia, the tisch school, brooklyn college and the MFA program at warren wilson are ridiculous because columbia, the tisch school, brooklyn college and the MFA program at warren wilson collaborated in helping james franco simultaneously earn four degrees.
which story do you want to read?
i’m trying to get at something beyond sour grapes here, because i think that is the first impulse. to say that i am mocking franco, i am failing to take him seriously, because i am envious of his success.
that may well be true in part, but i don’t think it reflects the complexity of the emotional response or the entirety of the dynamic, which is what the less readable version of this story (the columbia, the tisch school, brooklyn college and the MFA program at warren wilson angle) suggests.
a friend and i have a term for this: the funnel.
there are people who are in the funnel and there are people who are trying to get in the funnel. some people are born in the funnel, some people are not. and that’s not to say that once you’re in the funnel, you’re in for life or that it’s easy. rather, it’s that certain allowances will be made for you because you have made it.
celebrities are in the funnel. and so franco can get into columbia and tisch, and the first public exhibition of adrien brody’s recreational art can occur at art basel.
oh geez, i’m realizing now that this blog post is arcing into a description of the life and times of dan humphrey.
so it is privilege but it’s privilege that we tend to read as indulgence and pin onto the person.
so that when i saw that my boyfriend adrien brody was exhibiting at art basel, i thought, oh god, he’s franco-ing, and by that i meant that he was indulgently dabbling in other arts when really he should be in a dali bio-pic.
what i didn’t think was, wow. art basel and this lululemon gallery are exploiting my boyfriend adrien brody’s celebrity. which is, possibly, equally the case.
there’s a give and take here that tends to be obscured by the fact that we focus on the celebrity.
adrien brody is exhibiting his art. that is the story and he is at the center of it. but, in brody’s story, there’s a whole art industrial complex behind that story which we fail to see and that industrial complex is, i would argue, at the heart of the feelings such stories provoke.
in franco’s story it’s an educational industrial complex and franco’s story is especially useful because it is so visible and so extreme.
i imagine he’s a nice guy who likes learning and props to that. really, so what if he has 11 careers?
this ties in, bizarrely, to our inability to see the careers of women. perhaps we are over-able to see the careers of men. sadly, it seems we take none of them very seriously.
it’s one thing for franco or brody to be an actor. to do something more, to branch out, tests our patience.
i say this as someone who has, for over a decade, laughed at my boyfriend adrien brody’s earnestness over “making beats.”
that is a totally valid life choice, and yet i have treated it with derision to such an extent that it has become a family joke. a circumstance which, presumably, has more to do with my own insecurities about non-traditional career paths (hell, this whole post could have to do with that) than with adrien brody.
i’ve no exciting conclusion to this mind-wander. there is no tidy ending so i’ll just leave it here…