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James Franco calls 'General Hospital' role 'performance art.' Do online essays count too?

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In a Wall Street Journal column that probably got a B+ when it was first handed in as university coursework, James Franco asserts that what he’s been doing in his guest-starring role on General Hospital qualifies as performance art. With his character “Franco, just Franco,” Franco says, “I disrupted the audience’s suspension of disbelief, because no matter how far I got into the character, I was going to be perceived as something that doesn’t belong to the incredibly stylized world of soap operas. Everyone watching would see an actor they recognized, a real person in a made-up world. In performance art, the outcome is uncertain—and this was no exception. My hope was for people to ask themselves if soap operas are really that far from entertainment that is considered critically legitimate. Whether they did was out of my hands.” Hmmm. Well, judge for yourselves in the clips below.

So is James Franco a performance artist or an actor who took a role in a soap opera? Are the two mutually exclusive?

Sidenote: I’m loving the piano teases of “Mad World” in there — if you’re wondering, yes: At the end of October 19’s episode, it is Adam Lambert singing over a dramatic montage of abandoned booze bottles and newspaper clippings.

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