James Franco, shown here in Venice, had no real reason to be roasted, because we still aren't sure why he's famous. (Image Source: Reuters)
An odd thing happened last night on Comedy Central: James Franco received a celebrity roasting. The event, based in Los Angeles rather than the legendary Friars' Club of New York City where roasting became famous, essentially made Franco the butt of jokes for one night, insulting and mocking everything about him from his poetry to his grandma. There is something wrong with all this roasting, though: Nobody quite knows why James Franco was being roasted, partly because nobody really knows why James Franco is famous in the first place. If nothing else, Comedy Central's roast of James Franco made the event rather useless.
Can anyone actually name a big, successful film where James Franco was the leading role besides 127 Hours, which he received an Academy Award nomination? Maybe Rise of The Planet of The Apes, but that's about it. Every other film he was in which was a critical and/or box office success largely showed him a supporting role, be it as Harvey Milk's lover Scott Smith, the gun-toting dealer Saul Silver in Pineapple Express, or Peter Parker's best friend Harry Osborn in the Sam Raimi Spider-Man series. Most of his lead roles tend to be failures, however, as is the case with Oz The Great and Powerful, and his hosting of the Oscars.
It seems like James Franco is more famous for trying to be some artistic superhuman in recent years, writing poetry, directing, and trying to earn a doctorate at Yale. However, those things do not exactly make you a celebrity worthy of roasting. If Franco had, say, ten years down the line gotten more credibility, it would have been a worthy roasting. But there is nothing to suggest that this was even worth the effort. Besides, most of the barbs at Franco kind of fell flat.
Granted, the Friars Club and Comedy Central have both roasted more up-and-coming stars, or stars in their prime. But with James Franco, this all seems meaningless. James Franco is famous for nothing specific other than doing way too many things at once. The value of this event, of roasting, becomes pointless when you are simply targeting a person who is just famous at this moment. Franco may sputter out in the next year or two, and that is a distinct possibility. It just comes across as a boring ratings grab during a quiet part of the television summer season. Of course, that may have been the whole point.