Just Who Is This James Franco?

His media tour for this weekend's Oz the Great and Powerful has combined with Spring Breakers and the general impossibility of James Fanco so that no one can decide, once again, which James Franco this. Allow us to attempt to clarify.

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Let the great James Franco debate reignite. Franco—you know, the man who just can't stop enrolling in school and making NSFW films—is on his latest media tour for a family-friendly turn in Oz the Great and Powerful, which comes out on Friday. That vehicle is followed shortly by his not-so-family-friendly turn in Harmony Korine's Disney-stars-gone-wild flick Spring Breakers. So there's a lot of James Franco chatter going around these days, but no one can decide, once again, which James Franco, exactly, that James Franco is presenting to the world. Or which one everybody's decided on accepting this time around. It's all very confusing. Allow us to attempt to clarify.

James Franco is a "Renaissance Man"

That's what Stephen Colbert deemed him on The Colbert Report Tuesday night, and Franco agreed with Colbert. Technically, yes, with all the things he has done, sure, he is somewhat of a Renaissance man, though we bet some original Renaissance men are rolling over in their graves.

James Franco is a "Fraud"

That's according to James Franco, himself. Colbert asks him—in reference to the Wizard he plays on screen—"Are you also a fraud?" Franco replied: "I am a fraud. This is an act. This is an act." He never stopped smiling. We have long believed this.

James Franco is the "World's biggest poseur!"

Kyle Smith ripped into Franco in the New York Post, explaining that he's set to overtake Anne Hathaway as the most hated celebrity in the media. Smith writes that the media is "picking up torches and denouncing him as a charlatan, not to mention a talentless dilettante. He's a little man behind a curtain, pulling levers and blowing smoke." Basically, he says everyone's mad at Franco from Lena Dunham to "gay bloggers" to RiFF RaFF, who brings us to...

James Franco is a liar

That's according to rapper RiFF RaFF, who has ben reaching out to a number of media outlets angry that Franco is disavowing that his Spring Breakers character, Alien, was inspired by RiFF RaFF. Franco claims it was based on another white rapper, Dangeruss. We want to side with RiFF RaFF on this one. Just take a look:

James Franco is "the 21st Century’s First Great Public Intellectual"

Yeah, really. At least according to Time's Lily Rothman, who argues that Franco—what with all of this art films and degrees—is a "public intellectual" adhering to the definition of the term posed by  author Richard Posner. We're trying to find the irony in this piece, but we're just not sure it's there.

James Franco is a blogger

He is. That's just a fact. And his blogging makes for a surprisingly difficult quiz from Vulture.

So who is James Franco anymore?

Well, he's exhausting, and polarizing, and frustrating, and we're starting to feel like he's in this whole movie star-pseudo intellectual-art world denizen game for the long haul.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.