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Some say Hollywood has no shame. Others rationalize actors’ sometimes bizarre behavior as just one of the many idiosyncrasies that accompanies artists—but I’m sure both camps have no explanation or real grasp on what may be the creepiest coup de grâce in publicity stunt memory: James Franco’s underage girl Instagram scandal. 

Last week it leaked that detailed Franco’s Instagram dialogue with a 17 year old girl that he had met outside his Broadway show, and revealed his attempts to get her to meet him at his hotel room. Franco is no stranger to Hollyweirdness, but the prospect of a critically acclaimed actor at the height of his career seeking out underage girls online is especially troubling.

Until you add-in the publicity factor.

After owning up to and apologizing for the online outrage, rumors began to circulate that the entire thing was an inexplicable ruse concocted to promote Franco’s upcoming film Palo Alto, a story of a soccer coach who engages in an illegal affair with an underage girl. I’ve seen all of the customary PR fodder, but masquerading as an online predator in some odd viral-marketing campaign to promote a movie has to be the lowest of the low.

James Franco has yet to acknowledge that the entire debacle was a farce, but updating his Twitter with ‘I HOPE PARENTS KEEP THEIR KIDS AWAY FROM ME’ just reeks of attention-seeking insincerity. I’m a fan of Franco’s work—particularly his role as ‘Alien’ in Spring Breakers—but regardless if this story is proved false or he really is a predatory weirdo, I think I’m saying sayonara. No project is worth stooping to such a level, and I don’t have to explain why attempting to pick-up underage girls is vile. 

I suppose time will tell the truth of it, but the court of public opinion seems to have already convicted Franco of PR-hound of the highest order. Either way, the whole story is strange, and can only serve to hurt him in the long run.    

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