A group of UCLA students are protesting the selection of ‘08 alum James Franco, star of Milk and Pineapple Express, as their commencement speaker. Senior Erin Moore, who is attempting to drum up support on Facebook, told EW’s Hollywood Insider blog that she believes the university should have chosen a keynote speaker who’s accomplished more than juggling classes and a movie career, which she finds commendable but not particularly inspirational. Her argument isn’t completely without merit. She sees Franco as a peer, which is how he wanted to be viewed during his stint at UCLA. (He earned a degree in English, with a concentration in creative writing.) You could argue that the ones Franco should be addressing are high school students, who might benefit from hearing a story about someone who valued education enough to return to school – but didn’t have to give up his passion, acting. Then again, isn’t multi-tasking something new professionals could use advice on? Hasn’t 30-year-old Franco navigated his way through a difficult industry, shown range that was perhaps unexpected of him, and lived more life experiences than most 21-year-olds?
Of course, the selection committee (which did include students) no doubt picked Franco because they thought he’d be entertaining. That isn’t a new concept. Personally, I’d be psyched to have someone who, if he’s smart, might bring along a new Judd Apatow video (perhaps addressing this protest?). I can’t remember who spoke at my graduation 12 years ago. I just remember that he was an older gentleman who said something culturally insensitive that had all the anthropology majors staring at each other in disbelief. (I also remember getting a congratulatory peck on the cheek from my hot art history professor because he’d read in the program that I was graduating summa cum laude. I felt a little guilty when final grades came in and I dropped to magna.)
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