A UCLA senior majoring in English who opposed a decision to feature James Franco (Milk, Pineapple Express) as this year’s commencement speaker has created a Facebook page to protest the move. Already, some 300 people have become “friends” of the cause — the creation of Erin Moore, 21, who wrote on the page that “James Franco has been chosen as the speaker for the College of Letters and Sciences Commencement Ceremony for 2009. Clearly, this is ridiculous. Anyone who has been in his classes knows he is an average student at UCLA. This is an accomplishment while working in his industry, but he is our academic peer, which makes him an inappropriate choice for a keynote speaker.”
In an interview with EW, Moore explains that her beef wasn’t directed toward Franco (who earned his degree in English with a concentration on creative writing from UCLA last year) but toward the university, which she believes could have chosen someone who has made “significant achievements to change the world.” She doesn’t believe Franco’s accomplishment in “keeping up a really large number of units while also having a movie career” is particularly inspirational.
Well, some other students thought otherwise. According to a UCLA spokeswoman, there was student participation in the committee that selected the speaker and “James Franco was the top recommendation. We’re happy he has accepted.”
According to an interview with NPR, Franco said he returned to UCLA to finish his undergraduate degree but was concerned that his classmates and teachers may think he was coasting through while maintaining an acting career, so he signed up for additional courses to show his commitment. In his last quarter, he apparently signed up for 62 units.
“I think he’s a good actor,” Moore says of Franco. “I just don’t think he’s changed the structure of our society just yet.”
A call into Franco’s publicist was not returned Thursday afternoon. The Facebook page features a picture of Franco sleeping in what appears to be a lecture hall but Moore admits it wasn’t taken by her. She got it off of TMZ.com.
More James Franco:
EW’s 2008 profile of the Pineapple Express star