During a guest appearance Friday on Live With Kelly & Michael, actor James Franco addressed the controversy surrounding his attempt at a digital dalliance via Instagram with a 17-year-old female.
The incident occurred after Scottish tourist Lucy Cloude was standing outside of the Longacre Theatre in midtown Manhattan where Franco is performing Of Mice and Men. Cloude encountered Franco, 35, snapped a selfie of herself and the actor, tagging on Instagram was initiated, which lead to some online flirting between the two. The exchange quickly went public, and Franco was summarily criticized as being a hapless knave for his perceived seedy behavior.
Franco's first attempt at damage control was to take to Twitter to warn people to hide their teens:
I'M NOT! I HOPE PARENTS KEEP THEIR TEENS AWAY FROM ME. Thank you http://t.co/I1d4n3yVe0
— James Franco (@JamesFrancoTV) April 2, 2014
Seemingly dissatisfied with his initial attempt at atonement, Franco explained on Live With Kelly & Michael,
"I guess, you know, I'm embarrassed. I guess I'm just a model of how social media is tricky. It's a way people meet each other today, but what I've learned, I guess just because I'm new to it, is you don't know who's on the other end. You meet somebody in person you get a feel for them, but online you don't know who you're talking to. I learned my lesson. Unfortunately, in my position... I have a very good life, but not only do I have to go through the embarrassing rituals of meeting someone... sometimes if I do that then it gets published for the world. So it's doubly embarrassing."
Kelly Ripa commented that "It happens to everybody," and commended Franco for directly addressing the situation.
Here is the clip:
Since the legal age of consent in New York is 17, and Cloude is a few weeks shy of her 18th birthday, Franco committed no actual crime, but did scandalize himself, and has been seeing quite a bit of backlash.
James Franco's at somebody's prom singing Bound2
— Lena Horne (@shakiraevanss) April 5, 2014
Gonna start using "Franco" as a verb
— Yung Wild Roc (@djbroc) April 5, 2014
James Franco's takeaway from propositioning a 17-yr old is that ppl on social media are untrustworthy. Not self-aware enough to see irony.
— Allison Winn Scotch (@aswinn) April 5, 2014
James Franco's a creep...I'm so into it
— belicia (@threalpuffdaddy) April 5, 2014
Franco’s a smart dude. I gotta believe this “trying to pick up a 17-year-old” thing=a meta promotional thing for the forthcoming PALO ALTO.
— Scott Feinberg (@ScottFeinberg) April 4, 2014
Interestingly, there's been talk that the entire incident might plainly be a poorly executed publicity stunt Franco put together to promote his new movie Palo Alto. In the film Franco plays a soccer coach who seduces his 14-year old babysitter played by Emma Roberts, who is actually 23.
Here is the trailer for Palo Alto:
Image via Wikimedia Commons