Author’s note: This blog post, forecasting the high speed crash of the James Franco phenomenon, was submitted originally submitted to Huffington Post Arts on November 23, 2014 with the title “James Franco’s Unstoppable Sperm” and rejected. It appears in a different form here, focusing on the Carter/Franco experiment.
Carter (right) with Jacob Neiiendams, director of the Copenhagen Film Festival 2012 (CPH PIX, is at the forefront of a new wave of artists expressing the Third as a marriage of the 20th century war of opposites: figuration vs. abstraction (Photo by LPS).
I learned from Carter that the James Franco phenomenon arose out of an ingenious quantum experiment: James played his future self as soap opera star playing his future self as performance artist. It was Carter’s idea for Franco to actually himself as the artist Franco on <em>General Hospital</em>. The final taping of the show in the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art effectively erased the physical boundaries between the high and low. Yet there was something far more profound happening than this binary dialectic; it was a quantuam leap catalyzed by Franco’s AHA moment in which the boundaries between actor and directer were dissolved in Erased James Franco through the use of hidden microphones. The exchange of identity on and off camera was the quantum leap from undertainty to entanglement. The result was the Franco-stein multimedia boundary smasher.
Carter, the multimedia artist, directed James Franco to assess his role as Franco the Multimedia Artist on television. The triple medium enactment of performance artist within a television program within a film set was the Dreieingkeit of a multi-layered narrative structure within triangular relationship narrative. The binary of the high/low (soap opera vs. “art film”) was a tame enough dialectic for a market-focused art world invite the final episode taping inside the museum. The domain of the artist known as Franco was getting familar to the movie star known as James Franco. Only a quantum leap separated them, and this was made possible by Kairos, the AHA moment resulting from the earlier entanglement. Yet, what confounded film critics, who are not accustomed to plunging into new dimensions in art, was the transcendence of the binary into the tertiary through the visual entanglement of particles and waves in the large Franco paintings serving as backdrops for the Maladies set.
America’s most ubiquitous superstar, whose most enduring role is a perpetual adolescent playing the social network against the corporate entertaintment power structure, has become an unstoppable masturbating sperm-generating machine.
The deflation of the erection of his McCarthy inspiration had to happen in France, where there is a memory of art before it became an American adolescent sex joke. Paul McCarthy’s work was destroyed by the fundamentalist French catholic group, Le Printemps Français (The French Spring).
Across the Atlantic, critics cry out for a halt but the 24/7 Franco show has become like a train wreck; he will keep going until he crashes right into his 7.1 million Facebook followers.
The descent was forecasted in his metarole as himself, the Dumuzi narcissist sent into the underworld in This is the End. It continued on April Fool’s Day 2014. It certainly seemed like a joke that America’s adolescent was caught red-handed soliciting an underage Scottish girl for sex (in the Templar tradition) through an Instagram ruse. Might the slimy bedroom underwear Selfie seductions have been a contrition to devoted fans? And yet the mocking of the grail quest for the “sacred marriage” archetype with his “queen” Seth Rogan has proved to be only a prelude to the couple full frontal nudal romp across the social network.
To understand the origin of the Franco phenomenon and its thundering smashup….
James Dean was the lightening in a bottle heralding the Age of Aquarius when his flimsy aluminum “Little Bastard” container crashed into an improbable Signifier: Donald Turnupseed.
…we have to revisit his breakout role–James Dean.
By rights of an uncanny ability to mimic, Franco inherited the aborted Dean seed and replanted it at the turn of the millennium (2001) with James Franco as James Dean.
Inserting himself into the shoes of the America’s rebel at the turn of the millennium, Franco had the intelligence to understand he was making fate into destiny. There was a mission regarding the turned-up-seed. But what was it?
The unfiltered Id of James Franco thumbing his nose at the art market produced the after-postmodern tension–the reveling in the opposites that put Dean in an early grave –that made Franco a highly visible candidate for a neo-modernist transition. His precarious balance between film stardom, and all its accolades, and the inner urge to make his private expression public; this left his public hanging on the edge with him. When would the see-saw collapse?
Yet, it continued in his 2010 path of exploding the boundaries between mediums with a blow torch while single-handedly producing the fame shadow in the New York Art world…
… hanging out with the likes of the performance artist turned celebrity Marina Abramovic.
Even as Franco returned his focus to film in 2011, there was magic in resurrecting Jams Dean through the horrendous <em>Sal</em>, which set the stage for the culmination of 2012.
The James Franco Project, as I called it, seemed to have a meaning beyond the exposure of the fame shadow in the art world that was the source of its very ubiquity. There was also the capacity to provide an unfiltered blueprint for the emergence of a modernist icon.
And yet, in October 2014, the James Franco Project has become nothing but a reflection of America’s demise, the collective inability to face the tremendous challenges facing the black mass settling over the culture. The continued repression of the dark feminine (the former pioneering terrain of Marina Abramovic) has only served to extend the reign of the masturbating boys club of Franco, Rogen, McCarthy and Koons long beyond its sell-by date.
In his bid to remain on stage and feed the beast of his 7.1 million FB followers as the ubiquitous figure of the after-postmodern, Franco has lost the magic of the “third entity” that got him there in the first place. He has fallen off the balance beam (the Signifier as buried treasure in his “Gay Town” fun house), the binary no longer expressed through an internal challenge of balance but externally through his all-consuming media presence: lowbrow humor vs. serious art, Faulkner vs. Seth Rogan.
After reaching the height of the after-postmodernism wave, where his brief appearance as Hefner saying “sometimes life is stranger than fiction” just about summed up his own phenomenon..Franco didn’t have to have a fundamentalist group deflate his erection.
He did it all by himself through an admission and a gesture:
1. His recent experiment in deconstructing iconic films is clearly a postmodern exercise completely devoid of any other meaning than falling backwards because the consciousness was lacking to become truly rooted in a new modernism.
2. His open admission that he is making humorous works to purchase likeability (Likes) among his 7.1 million followers so he can make his serious films.
After tracking the Third in art for over a decade, I began to confront the James Franco phenomenon at film festivals. At the Berlinale in 2012, I confronted the possibility of Franco entering the “third entity” via his three-year collaboration with the multimedia artist Carter, whom I met at a press conference for their film Maladies.
<em>The geometry of the relationships in the film (Catherine Keener as the genius artist friend Fallon Goodman the loony sister) catalyzed the conversion of Franco-stein into human tragedy.
The film performed the double task of both creating and revealing the James Franco phenomenon within the context of the movie star’s shadow–wanting to make art as an abstract idea but not able to depart from the limelight to nurture the seeds of an actual work of art. Maladies had a shaving cream metaphor for the uncontrolled ejaculation of sperm unfertilized in the 2.0 social network: the ones with the female egg present such as <em>Palo Alto</em> were successful than others, such as the abysmal Sal. Franco seemed to be struggling to move faster than light so he would leave no shadow, therefore his efforts requiring no insight for personal or collective evolution.
<em>Maladies</em> provided the fertile ground for the sacred marriage of opposites with an understanding of the persperation factor of genius built right into the narrative. James Franco found his equal in Catherine Keener’s genius gender-bending sculptress with Alan Cummings, M.C. of Cabaret, ramming the Aquarian archetype home from Weimar Berlin.
Yet, Franco seemed to want to abort the very project that transparently revealed his internal struggles to create something original that resulted in a telling scene of ejaculating shaving crème over his face; he didn’t show up for the red carpet premiere or for the press conference….
…but managed to show up for the press conference for “Lovelace” to answer a single question about his brief impersonation of Hugh Hefner.
And what about the Franco sperm?
Bonaparte is a neo-modernist collaborative birthed in the Berlin gender-bending tradition of the marriage of opposites…
The Turn-up-seed that crashed. James Dean. Has now crashed. James Franco.