The Selfish Prick and the Other One

A long, hard look at some bad hosting and even worse behavior.

Lane Cummingsby Lane Cummings

The Selfish Prick and the Other One

I truly can’t tell you how satisfying it was to watch Anne Hathaway and (most notably) James Franco eat it repeatedly onstage during the 83rd annual Oscars. I truly can’t tell you how satisfying it still is to read the constant and unbridled criticism of those two that has been spilling over since. Really, I’m wearing a smirk and it’s not going anywhere. There’s just something really fulfilling about seeing two beautiful, wildly successful, fiendishly well-paid people show us how much they absolutely do depend on scripts with multiple revisions, multiple takes, and a take-no-bullshit director ready to scream obscenities and threats in their faces to get these actors to deliver the damn goods. I gather the teleprompter just wasn’t as persuasive.


Let’s all congratulate ourselves on one fact we’ve definitely gleaned from the hosting-bloodbath of the 83rd Oscars. We can now officially agree that James Franco is a real, true tool. No decent person throws their co-hosts to the wolves as he did. As responsive as the corpse of Houdini—no, excuse me, we’re talking about Houdini here— less responsive than the corpse of Houdini, Franco made no effort to entertain, enliven, charm, or excite the audience. Except for the few who always wondered what the Oscars would look like if one of the hosts had to perform while held at gunpoint.
Pouting like a spoiled brat that has parents who are far too left-wing to clock him across the face, Franco left everything up to poor Anne Hathaway. Yes, as some journalists have acknowledged, she at least gave it the old college try, acting loud, goofy, and well, whatever else that was supposed to be. However, none of this changes the fact that Anne is still an actress and while she can cry and show her pearly whites on demand, that particular skill set isn’t terribly valuable when you’re trying to make a show which is really is just a glorified roll call at Hollywood High, amusing. However, I don’t want to sound like I’m persecuting Miss Hathaway. Honestly, she was offered an opportunity and she took it. Sure, it was an example of ill-decision making on behalf of her and her massive management staff, but nonetheless, she took a risk.

Franco must carry this Oscar cross up to the hill to Golgotha on his own. Anne Hathaway most likely wouldn’t have seemed like she was flailing wildly as much if he had responded. Just responded. Played a couple reindeer games. Something. It was like clapping your hands in front of a highly medicated grandpa during a nap. Nothing. Even his parade in drag was half-mast. And that’s serious. If you’re going to wear a dress, you’d better commit.

Franco acted like one of those guys who like to date the prettiest girl in the room just so that he can ignore her, getting off on how such behavior chips away at her self esteem. Or, to quote Ian Saleh of The Washington Post, “Franco came off like that lacrosse boy you wish your daughter didn’t hang out with so much, sort of heavy-lidded and smirky.” Anne Hathaway visibly squeezed his arm when getting to the best actor nominees. It’s like he was trying to recite Beowulf to himself from memory and he’d be damned if he was going to let her upset his concentration.

I truly feel like Franco has committed one of the biggest sins of performance: the contract that is understood between two entertainers that stretches back even before Hollywood, or vaudeville, but back when our ancestors were just sitting around a fire telling stories. You do not—you never, ever, ignore a fellow performer, entertainer, co-host or co-storyteller on stage. I don’t care if Franco regretted his decision to host; I don’t care if he realized he was way, WAY out of his league; and I don’t care if he’s just an a-hole at heart; he committed a major, major sin of performance. We can only hope that the ghosts of Brando, Boghart and Barrymore rise from the dead and give him the beating of his life.

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