James Franco bowed out as UCLA's commencement speaker last month amid a student-driven Facebook campaign to bounce him. Now the actor has taken to the web to mine the flap for laughs – and perhaps extract a little revenge.
The hilarious "James Franco’s Rejected UCLA Commencement Speech" video marks a pointed response to the "UCLA Students Against James Franco as Commencement Speaker" Facebook page, which sparked some controversy for the Class of '09.
In the video, Franco is seen in wood-paneled study rehearsing his "speech," coming across as part egomaniacal, clueless celebrity, part his "Pineapple Express" stoner character.
"I know what you’re thinking: ‘Mr. Franco, you’re a (expletive) movie star," he says in the profanity-filled short, which was presented by the Harvard Lampoon and can be found on Funny or Die.
Franco compares himself to President Obama, muses about plans to buzz the graduates in a jetpack and reveals he agreed to appear in "Milk" because he thought it was about "my favorite drink."
The students who opposed Franco as commencement speaker argued the 31-year-old actor, a recent UCLA grad himself, hadn't accomplished enough to earn the honor. (Franco backed out of the speech duties just days before the ceremony, citing a professional conflict. He was replaced by Linkin Park guitarist Brad Delson, UCLA Class of 1999.)
By poking fun at himself in the video, Franco displays a sense of self-confidence, humor and intelligence – qualities that likely will keep his career strong, and perhaps make him a worthy commencement speaker in the eyes of a future UCLA class.
Member of the Class of ‘09, meanwhile, can check out the video and see what they missed.
(Warning: Audio NSFW)
Hester is founding director of the award-winning, multi-media NYCity News Service at the City University of New York Graduate School of Journalism. He is the former City Editor of the New York Daily News, where he started as a reporter in 1992.