Why James Franco Isn't the New James Dean

Clarisse Loughrey

To say James Franco is obsessed with James Dean is like saying Wes Anderson loves the Futura Font; it's just stating the obvious. From portraying the guy in a 2001 TV movie, to curating an entire exhibition based on Rebel without a Cause, to this new blonde do he's been sporting; it's all pointing to a creepy Dean shrine somewhere in Franco's house (candles and locks of hair included). Look, James Franco is a great actor and a great man, but if he really wants to be James Dean, there's a couple of things standing in his way:

1. James Dean wouldn't be caught dead starring in Oz the Great and Powerful.

James Franco may be one of the most talented actors of our generation, but he has a tendency in making a lot of misteps when it comes to his acting career: from the upcoming franchise cash-in Oz the Great and Powerful (where Zach Braff voices a CGI monkey wearing a jacket), the tedious Tristan & Isolde, or the painfully unfunny Your Highness. The man even had a deleted cameo from The Wicker Man remake. Can you imagine James Dean in a movie where someone screams "Killing me won't bring back your goddamn honey"? No, no you can not. 

2. James Dean wouldn't make a Justin Bieber lipsynch.

I don't know if you've ever visited James Franco's YouTube page, but the man likes to film himself lipsynching to pop songs, that's for sure. This one definitely takes the cake though, for commitment to costume, lighting and choreography. I genuinely can't tell whether this is a clever parody of Hollywood self-obsession and celebrity cult or whether this guy just gets really bored sometimes. All I do know is that this video has too much thrusting and it makes me feel uncomfortable.

3. James Dean didn't host the Oscars and do a (kind of) a terrible job.

Oh yeah, of course we're revisiting this. In his defense, you can't really blame Franco for the way the 2011 Oscars turned out (or Anne Hathaway for that matter): they were just being themselves. The person you can blame is whoever made the executive decision to pair the most over-earnest person in Hollywood with the most under-earnest. The whole thing came off like a social experiment on what happens when you take two normal people, put one on uppers and the other on downers, and then lock them in a room together with some mediocre jokes about Inception.

4. James Dean didn't take a load of selfies on Instagram.

Again, I genuinely cannot tell whether this is parody or boredom. He does look kind of sad in all of them though and likes to take pictures of cats so...it's anyone's guess.

5. James Dean wasn't this funny or self-aware.

Hey, if I had the choice to hang out with James Franco or James Dean, I'd probably have to go with Franco. The guy is hilarious and wonderfully self-deprecating. He's totally aware of the fact that we all know he just wants to be James Dean and he's totally prepared to make fun of himself for it. Also, do you remember that time he played himself on 30 Rock and he fell in love with a body pillow? Yeah, James Dean wouldn't have had the balls to do that.

What I'm trying to say is, James Franco, wherever you may be, we know you want to be James Dean so bad but we like you for being you. In other words, you are a precious, unique flower that needs to blossom on its own. BLOSSOM, JAMES FRANCO, BLOSSOM. 

Follow Clarisse on Twitter: @clarisselou 

Unconventional by Tradition

Discover how urban creatives helped us design our new packaging.

Read more