Review Me the Head of James Franco...

Review Me the Head of James Franco...
(Image courtesy of Ian Belknap)

Bring me the Head of James Franco, that I may Prepare a Savory Goulash in the Narrow and Misshapen Pot of his Skull.

That is the longest and best goddamn title of a one man show ever.

Warning: this review is going to be expletive laden and will contain several asides to my own life over the last couple days since seeing the show. If you have a problem with that, you won’t like the show anyway, so get the fuck out.

Let me start this off by saying that I, too, hate the shit out of Jim Franco. I thought he was the worst part of the shit fest that was Pineapple Express, didn’t like Freaks and Geeks at all (send your hate mail to lookhowmuchIgiveashit@fuckyou.com), and the idea that this motherfucker has published a novel makes my skin crawl so bad that I am sliding across the floor right now without moving any of my limbs. Oh and those fucking college “classes” he teaches? I think anyone who would willingly sign up for one of those classes is a brain-dead asshole who should be rounded up and shipped off to fucking Franco island where they can all fuck each other while watching videos of themselves masturbating like they all want to do anyway.

But do I have the hatred required to make a one man show about it?

Ian Belknap’s Bring Me the Head of James Franco… tests the limits of how much one man can hate. Set in the Den Theater, a space you would miss if you weren’t looking for it, sandwiched between The Boring Store and a used furniture shop, the theater looks closed from the outside, if not abandoned. Which is unfortunate, because inside looks like the loft you’ve always wanted. Cozy, with candles everywhere, a nice bar, fireplace, big couches- the best lobby I have ever been in. And the nicest, best looking people everywhere. Even Debbi, the older lady working the ticket booth is beautiful and helpful to the point that you want to take her with you everywhere you go just to reassure you of your life choices. Upstairs, in the black box theater where Franco takes place, the stage is set with a desk/podium, an extra table, and the Power Point projected onto the wall.

Yes. Power Point. A tool used for demonstrating last quarter’s dip in earnings is implemented in what, at its core, is a comedy show. Somewhere between a lecture, stand-up comedy, and a play, Franco owns the space, filling the room courtesy of Belknap’s booming tenor. Thankfully, the Power Point serves to add to the show with Belknap rarely reading any of the text that appears on screen. The subject of the night? James fucking Franco.

You might not have thought that anyone would have the ability to talk about James Franco for an hour and twenty minutes. You would have thought wrong. From his aforementioned college classes, shitty acting, and wacky-crazy-look-at-me art bullshit, Belknap thoroughly rips apart the King of Ego while exhausting every slang word for “penis” possible. Towards the end, the scope widens to our treatment of celebrity as a whole, but only briefly, returning to Franco by the end. Uproariously hilarious at times, unbelievable at others—Franco’s douchbaggery surprising and awe inspiring—and repetitive occasionally, the show is fun and quick. Though ingesting this much Franco may not be good for your overall mental wellbeing.

I left, having seen the show alone, and was conflicted. I had sat through an hour plus of Jim Fucking Franco, and yet, learned nothing more than I had come in with. I read Gawker and Vice on the regular, so Jim’s bullshit is a constant in my life. I abhor People Magazine because, as I tell people “I don’t give a shit about celebrities.” And before you call me out for my blatant hypocrisy, let me explain.

We, as a culture, complain when celebrities act like total fucking dickheads, but then latch on to the teat of gossip sites. We validate them with our attention and give them absolutely no reason not to be as weird and stupid and shocking as possible. Their currency, outside of the millions of dollars they make, is headlines. And yet, we want to pretend we are better than the paparazzi who camp out in the stars’ front yards hoping to catch them picking a wedgie. We want the best of both worlds, where we can complain about the latest clusterfuck of some celebrity, yet consider ourselves above the celebrity worship all together. And we can’t do both. This, the whole fucking point of the show, was lost on me until a day after, when I was drunk at a party and James fucking Franco came up.

“I fucking HATE James Franco!” Meg says as someone finds an E-book with James Franco’s novel on it (Please, PLEASE never make me write that sentence again. Please, everyone?).
“Oh my god! I do too! In fact I just saw a one man show about him…”
“Why? Why do we have to pay attention to that douche? Can’t we pretend that he doesn’t exist?” We’re in a studio apartment and her pent up Franco hate is so loud that the scream shakes the walls.
“Well, that was kind of the point… oh.” This is the moment it dawns on me.

See, I had been living the idea that I could ignore celebrity weddings and not buy their shitty memoirs, and that meant that I was ABOVE their celebrity influence. But ask me how many books Franco has published? Ask me how high on the New York Times Best Sellers list Snooki’s book went. I know. I KNOW THOSE FUCKING FACTS, because I am as much a celebrity whore as anyone, or maybe worse. Because instead of following their personal lives, instead of showing interest in the new house they bought or the happy things they do, I start to get a hateboner when they do something stupid and I can point to it as a reason to stop celebrity worship. This is what Belknap is getting at; this is Belknap’s genius. Franco isn’t an invitation to continue a discussion about a celebrity. It’s demonstrative that those discussions need to end. It’s more than a show about a celebrity. It’s the ultimate show about celebrity. It’s the last show about celebrity we need. And goddamn do we need it.

 

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