November 25th, 2011 | by RUTH BROWN Arts & Books | Posted In: Visual Arts

Kickstart my Heart: Fucking James Franco

It's funnier than Fucking Ryan Gosling

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We're all generally big fans of Kickstarter, the "crowd-funding" website that allows people to follow through on brilliant and/or ridiculous project ideas through cash pledges from benevolent online donors. It probably comes as no surprise that Portland is one of Kickstarter's biggest markets, what with our hoards of underemployed creative types and militant support of all things local (even Sam Adams has a page). So we decided it was time to focus a bit more on some of the better projects—and the people behind them—coming out of Portland, with a semi-regular (hey, let's not get too committed, here) series we're calling Kickstart my Heart.



Fucking James Franco—"a collection of erotic fiction that describes hypothetical sexual encounters with the greatest American actor, writer, and visual artist of all time"—is the brainchild of Sean Joseph Partick Carney, an artist and writer who teaches at PNCA. It has already received a heap of attention from the likes of the Onion's A.V. Club, Jezebel, Nerve, Gothamist and other online bigwigs, but most seem to view it as a joke. We caught up with Carney earlier this week, who said while it might be funny, it's a serious work of art.

WW: How did this all come about?
Carney: It kind of came out of hearing that phrase muttered—"Fucking James Franco!"—in a disparaging capacity by a lot of different artists that I know; just about he's going to be in performance, he's showing at a gallery, he's doing all these things. People are very frustrated with him. And I'm very fascinated by the cult of celebrity and the way people navigate between different forms of media.... I just kept hearing people literally saying, "Fucking James Franco!" and at a certain point, I started thinking, "What about fucking James Franco?" Just thinking about Harlequin romance novels, or when I was a kid, reading Penthouse Forum letters and this kind of hilarious form of fiction which nobody takes seriously. So I approached a bunch of different artists—mostly from Portland, but also San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York—that I've known for quite some time, and sent out an email invitations. About half the people turned me down and said no way, and the other half were all up for it.

So you would defend this as a genuine artist endeavor?
Yeah, I’ve been doing a pretty hybrid art practice for several years—I do performance art, music, comedy and a lot of writing. I do this publishing label (Social Malpractice) and I see the books as art objects. So this is in the way that I approach a lot of different things. It is certainly a collaborative project, because we have so many different people involved, but I do see it as an art piece; it’s a piece of satire.... And I don’t generally satirize things that I don’t think are culturally significant—not that I think James Franco is hugely culturally significant, but I think he represents something pretty interesting in the 21st century about the ability of people to navigate between lots of different forms of media, because of the accessibility of these things. So, I mean, it’s tongue-in-cheek to an extent, but the amount of effort that’s gone into it, I often wonder whether this even constitutes sarcasm any longer.

What are some of the more interesting interpretations of the subject the writers took?
One contributor wrote a series of poems that are supposed to be read by James Franco to her, to express his love for her in bed at night after intercourse. And they’re very short, simple poems that are kind of ridiculous, not raunchy—like a lot of the stuff is pretty raunchy, but this is sort of like the delusional teen-girl fantasy about the way that James Franco would talk to her. And that’s Sally Gotfredson’s contribution to it.

Jaclyn Campanaro, who is a photographer and new media artist, her entire thing is a Twitter timeline about running into him at a bar, so it’s only her tweets at different people, asking advice on what to talk to him about. And she’s tweeting as they’re having this sexual encounter and she’s trying to tweet with her left hand, so everything is misspelled, and she’s uploading pictures and stuff like that. And he’s trying to be really intellectual the entire time and she’s not understating any of it, so she’s asking her Twitter followers for advice, on like “What do I say when he wants to talk about post-structuralism?”

So what do you think James Franco would think?
I’m at a loss for that, actually. When we first started it, the contributors and I were joking, and it’s on the Kickstarter page, actually, it says “You know who's going to fucking love this book? FUCKING JAMES FRANCO.” And at a certain point, I think we thought it would be very entertaining to him, but now I wonder. I don’t know if he’s heard about it—it seems logic would dictate it’s possible that at this point he’s aware that this book is happening. It would be outstanding if we could get Gus Van Sant to film him reading it in bed, but I don’t know how he’s going to take it.... I hope he’s flattered. Everything I satirize in any of my work is something I find to be really interesting. I did a long project about Joaquin Phoenix when he was claiming he was going into a rap career. It’s usually something I find to be funny. It wouldn’t be as funny if it was Fucking Ryan Gosling. And he’s arguably as attractive as James Franco, but doesn’t have the same weird cult icon status that James Franco does. And the alliteration of the title: "Fucking James Franco" kind of rolls off the tongue.


Fucking James Franco has already reached its funding goals, but you still have a day to score our own copy by pledging here.

 
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