Frisky Rant: James Franco Thinks He’s Matthew Barney

We were all scratching our heads in confusion when James Franco announced that he would be appearing on the soap opera “General Hospital.” But would I have called his decision performance art? Not so much. According to James, however, that’s exactly what it is. “I finally took the plunge and experimented with [performance art] myself when I signed on to appear on 20 episodes of ‘General Hospital’ as the bad-boy artist ‘Franco, just Franco,’” he says about his visionary concept in an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal this weekend. So his film career isn’t in trouble, OK? In addition to the 20 episodes on the show, there is a piece de resistance to Franco’s “General Hospital” performance—he will film a final scene in a museum. Edgy. But seriously … why?James claims to have been obsessed with performance art for the last 10 years. “I disrupted the audience’s suspension of disbelief, because no matter how far I got into the character, I was going to be perceived as something that doesn’t belong to the incredibly stylized world of soap operas. My hope was for people to ask themselves if soap operas are really that far from entertainment that is considered critically legitimate,” explains Franco. Then he basically gives a rundown of performance art from the History of Performance Art book I can only imagine he keeps on his bedside table and proceeds to compare himself to the greats, like Matthew Barney, legitimately one of my all-time favorites.

I call “pretentious” on this for so many reasons.

  1. James Franco clearly thinks he is a more “highbrow” actor than his soap opera colleagues. Did anyone see “Pineapple Express”?
  2. It’s one thing to be a fan of performance art and another to actually be a performance artist.
  3. The very intrigue and essence of performance art is its “anti-mainstream” sentiment and James Franco on “General Hospital” is by definition purely mainstream.
  4. It’s annoying when someone who is famous feels the need to pose as some kind of eccentric. I’m talking to you, Joaquin Phoenix, superhero.

I’m just not buying it. James, I say stick to your highbrow films (“Milk,” “Howl”) and take your fat paycheck and go to the Guggenheim and P.S. 1 in your spare time. Heck, roll around in body paint and sing on the subway if it makes you feel good, but you are not a performance artist. Sorry dude. Oh, and please leave Matthew Barney out of this. [Wall Street Journal]