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The Franco fiasco: A question of age


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As much as we want to view our celebrity idols as responsible, mature and noble because we think they are, they usually do something to dim the brilliant light we see them in. James Franco is considered to be one of the more respected Hollywood actors. He has hosted award shows, owns a production company, has won various awards, starred in films and TV shows and makes women swoon with his charming good looks. By the sight of recent headlines, I think I can safely say Franco has gotten into some trouble because of his ability to attract the ladies.

The 35-year-old actor was discovered chatting and flirting with a 17-year-old girl over Instagram and a few text messages. While others in the public eye have made these mistakes before, they are usually by older, married men. Franco, who is still fairly young and single, is still embarrassed by the revelation of his social media activity.

Franco met the Scottish schoolgirl when she waited outside his stage door after his Broadway performance in “Of Mice and Men.” Following their first encounter, Franco and the girl, identified as Lucy Clode, began exchanging pictures and flirty messages. According to an article on, Franco asked Clode her age. However, the conversation did not end there, though it should have. Franco also inquired if Clode had a significant other and if he should rent a room for the two of them. After viewing the published conversation between the two “lovebirds,” I saw how bad this made Franco look. He actively pursued this girl like a hormone-driven high school boy. He plunged right in and rapidly asked her all the questions at once, not waiting for an answer in between. He seemed very desperate for a one night stand. He pressed her enough to ask what day she wanted to meet up and sent pictures of himself to prove this was no April fool’s joke. Clode never met Franco again.

As it turns out, Franco assumed the conversation would be kept private, but that was obviously not the case. Why would it be? He is a celebrity – their lives hardly ever stay out of the media. To make amends, Franco boldly discussed the matter on the talk show “Live With Kelly and Michael.” He admitted to being embarrassed and blamed social media for being “tricky,” especially since he claimed he did not know who was on the other end. Now, that statement doesn’t make much sense considering he asked the girl her age via social media. He seemed to be playing dumb to the shocking advances of technology. He’s not old enough to pull that card, since he must know enough about social media to have an Instagram, a Twitter and a Facebook account.

Franco made another nonsensical comment about how social media is the way people meet these days. This is another awkwardly incorrect comment, since he met Clode outside the stage door before their social media connections started. He clearly could have assessed the situation better before hitting her up on Instagram.

Pinning the now public screw-up on social media is not a smart thing to do. At this point everyone can pretty much see what really went down. He can blame no one but himself for typing those words and even incriminating himself further by sending personal pictures.

Never once in his live confession to talk show hosts Kelly Ripa and Michael Strahan did Franco apologize for his behavior or even address the biggest issue: the fact that Clode was underage. He acted like this was just an embarrassing fan-actor debacle, instead of a possible illegal scandal involving an underage tourist.

Needless to say, Franco was impacted by the negative publicity this situation caused. He will now have to deal with the repercussions of having a bad reputation in the middle of a once extremely successful career. Franco has opened up doors for his kid brother to take the spotlight and gain the fame that his older brother lost. If Franco said one thing correctly, it was that social media is tricky – especially when you are a 35-year-old celebrity publicly exposed for sexually pursuing a 17-year-old girl.

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Award winning, student run, weekly campus newspaper of the University of Illinois, Springfield..
The Franco fiasco: A question of age