Hollywood polymath James Franco's first published poetry collection, Directing Herbert White, is headed for bookshelves, and early reviews indicate that Franco is continuing his campaign to troll everyone and see how long it takes the world to catch on.
Hollywood's Renaissance troll is known for his meditations on fame and his experiments with his public persona, and these poems seem to be an extension of that performance.
"There is a fake version of me / And he's the one that writes / These poems. / He has an attitude and a swagger / That I don't have," he muses.
Fake James probably also the one who hit on a teenage fan over Instagram and then bragged about how many followers it got him. And Fake James is taking over:
"He's become the real me / Because everyone treats me / Like I'm the fake me."
Franco's poems also adopt the voices and lives of other celebrities. One is a personal message from the late River Phoenix to 33-year-old James Franco, and in another, Lindsay Lohan says, "Fame raped me. / And I raped it, if you know what I'm saying."
But Franco's strangest tribute to ill-fated celebrity is a poem about Heath Ledger (or maybe a loosely rhyming retelling of Heath Ledger's IMDB page). It's full of essential truths, though: Ledger definitely was the knight in A Knight's Tale. Well observed, James Franco.
There had been a time
When we were up for the same roles,
10 Things I Hate about You
(Based on The Taming of the Shrew),
And The Patriot –
Funny, you were Australian and so was Mel –
You were the knight in A Knight's Tale…
A final bit of evidence for the theory that these are poems by Fake James, the Public Experiment: Franco has given several them the titles of Smiths songs, including "There Is A Light That Never Goes Out," "Please Please Please," and "Girlfriend in a Coma."
Telegraph reviewer Charlotte Runcie writes, "This makes sense. If there's one person with whom the performance-art persona of a tortured intellectual celebrity would identify, it's Morrissey."
It does make sense, but for a different Smiths-related reason: Franco is waiting for someone to answer him with a line from "Frankly, Mr. Shankly": "I never realized / that you wrote poetry / I never realized you wrote such bloody awful poetry."