Actor, model, writer, director, artist, student, teacher; James Franco does it all. From his scholarly endeavors to his risky and/or strange acting choices, Franco is constantly demonstrating his wide range of talents, which are often subject to both mockery and praise.
It’s hard to keep up with Franco’s latest projects, as he is constantly on-the-go from one venture to the next. For those of us struggling to keep track, he captures just about all of his exciting, weird, and important experiences along with some interesting commentary on his Instagram account.
Screenshot taken by author.
James Franco’s Instagram, like the man himself, is pretty weird. His bio even reads, “I’m not from this planet, y’all!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” As a huge fan of Franco, I can’t lie that while looking through his past posts I had pretty much already “liked” every single one of them; however, I do admit that some of his posts are beyond strange. Sometimes his posts are so odd that he needs to verify the validity of his account. In one video captioned “Weird shit – this be me – real account – yo,” he tries to prove that it’s his actual Instagram account by repeating the phrase “weird shit” while sitting on what seems like the toilet (yes I had “liked” this post as well). It makes absolutely no sense, but posts like this make him stand out from other A-list Hollywood stars. Unlike most celebrities, he isn’t concerned with polishing his image. While this may turn people off to Franco, I think it’s a reason to like him even more. He doesn’t seem too concerned with altering his profile in order to generate a false view of who he really is. Although, as Slater questions in “Social Relationships and Identity Online and Offline,” his appearance through this account may be very different from his authentic self. One’s identity displayed through SNSs are “mobile, fluid and openly experienced as performative rather than authentic” (Slater, 536). Franco attempts to break down this theory as he tries to show his fans the “real” him, yet in doing this he is actively performing for his followers. He tries to convey a careless and lighthearted attitude towards his posts, which constitutes a performance in itself.
Franco is a selfie king. In-bed selfies, on-set selfies, boat selfies, park selfies; the man loves to upload pictures of his face (can’t blame him). Yet, these photos aren’t carefully crafted either. They are often off-centered, semi-blurry, or taken at an odd angle. This may be an attempt to portray “expressive coherence,” which is explained in Liu’s “Social Network Profiles as Taste Performances.” Franco, in order to maintain consistency with his posts and therefore appearance, often uploads similar types of pictures that demonstrate his nonchalant, carefree personality.
Here are some examples of the Franco selfie:
Screenshots taken by author
While other celebrities focus on their airbrushed modeling shoots, professional photographs taken from their vacations, and their favorite moments from last week’s red carpet event, Franco often uses his Instagram to update his followers on the more low-key, un-edited parts of his day. Additionally, he frequently connects with his followers and receives feedback from his fans. He usually asks users to include certain hashtags so he can view their posts and in return, to use one of his own poetic phrases, “like the shit out of them.” He often reposts fans’ pictures and thanks them for their support, or replies with his own commentary on their pictures. Marwick and Boyd, in “To see and be seen: Celebrity practice on Twitter,” explains this activity by showing how SNSs display celebrities’ “ongoing maintenance of a fan base” (140). Franco uses Instagram to connect with fans in a personal matter by acknowledging their devotion to his work.
His Instagram also showcases his impeccable photo-editing abilities, as he often writes funny or heartfelt messages over his pictures in addition to his captions.
Screenshot taken by author.
Through this technique, he mainly pokes fun at the tabloids and promotes his recent projects. His poorly drawn pictures and sloppily written messages can also be explained in “To see and be seen: Celebrity practice on Twitter,” where Marwick and Boyd describe how this particular behavior is not uncommon among celebrities. On social media sites, they must “negotiate a complicated social environment where fans, famous people, and intermediaries such as gossip columnists co-exist” (143). Franco uses a unique approach to do what many other celebrities attempt through their posts: connect with their fans while putting rumors to rest. He mocks the paparazzi while communicating to his fans that what they’re reading in the tabloids might not be true.
Screenshots taken by author.
James Franco never fails to make audiences question his strange choices, whether it’s playing the role of “Alien” in Spring Breakers, or Instagramming a photo of his face photoshopped onto a cat’s body. His Instagram account captures his unique persona as his posts are genuinely funny and sincere. Although I sometimes have no idea what he’s talking about, I can’t help but double-tapping his photos; his pictures are hysterical and make valid points about our perception of art and Hollywood. Franco seems to care about his fans’ feedback and actively uses the app to express his own opinions in an interesting manner. Despite his strange approaches, James Franco is one of my favorite Instagrammers.
Screenshot taken by author.