[ToC]

 

DIRECTING JAMES FRANCO

Matthew Burnside

When James wrote "Directing Herbert White" he was a student at christ I'm not going to name them all.

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If Matthew had to guess, James was born in a place where mirrors had been banned for thousands of years. Catching his reflection in the lake one day the clouds would part, the trees would bow, the deserts cry and the seas boil while animals sang forth in a secret language that had not been heard for ages the song of the chosen one.

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Either that or he was just born in a regular hospital.

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Matthew didn't do any real research before writing this.

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James had a tough childhood. Probably. Childhood is sort of a shit time for everybody. He wanted to be a poet. He loved poetry. We know this because we have evidence of his writing in several prestigious magazines and a brilliantly blooming professional career.

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Seriously, it's like watching one of those time-lapse videos of flowers unfurling, except all the flowers are on speed and have been injected with liquid sunlight.

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His first book, ___________ was published by _________ in _______. It was easily read by 500,000X more readers than will ever read this piece, sold before readers even knew what the book was about.

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This is not James's fault.

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Entirely.

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Matthew doesn't know anybody famous.

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Matthew has never directed anything or anyone, including James Franco.

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James's piece "Directing Herbert White" was published in DIAGRAM in February 2014. At the time, Matthew had been rejected by DIAGRAM 16 times. This is not a bitter statement; it's merely a factual statement.

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Every writer understands that literature is not a competition between yourself and the world, which includes James Franco, because it is a competition between yourself and yourself.

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The object of the competition between yourself and yourself to tell a more difficult truth than comfortability allows.

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If it were a competition between yourself and the world though, which includes James Franco, even Matthew would put his money on James Franco.

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By money, he means Monopoly money.

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Matthew is a poet, after all.

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Anyone can say they're a poet and not have to back it up with anything, including poems.

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It's like the one vocation you can claim without any concrete proof. Sort of like a believer of _____. Faith isn't a degree. You can't frame it. Same with poets. Either you take their word on it or you don't.

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Matthew never got to know James but he did write a story about him once, in which James uploads a video of himself singing Ke$ha to YouTube and nurses a broken bird back to health with Funyuns before sprouting wings himself and, with a terrible and awesome man-caw, rising from the balcony to swim through the sun, becoming what he was always meant to be.

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Sometimes Matthew wonders if James has ever read his story about James Franco.

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Probably not.

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Matthew secretly fantasizes of an alternate reality in which James has written a story about Matthew Burnside.

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Matthew imagines, in this alternate reality, that he probably wouldn't read James's story about Matthew Burnside either.

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This is human nature, Matthew supposes.

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This is not Matthew's fault.

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Entirely.

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As Matthew is writing this, there are child soldiers fighting wars in faraway places. There are places where food is not available 24 hours a day to order through a jumbo speaker, giant-sized with a plastic toy. There are places where genocide and genital mutilation aren't just words.

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Matthew could have written about any of these things, but instead he chose to write about James Franco.

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This is not James's fault at all.

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We all wear masks. Some more openly than others.

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In spite of everything, James strikes Matthew as a sincere artist. He has defended his name several times in heated discussions and character assassins. For a few reasons.

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There's no such thing as a monopoly on sincerity.

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It doesn't matter who you are, how high or low on the totem pole: literature belongs to everyone.

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Still.

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Sometimes I would like to live in any place other than this tight space and be anything other than a spy on the world.

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But I can't afford the luxury. I am a poet, and tight spaces are my stage.

 

 

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Matthew invites James to make his story, "[J Franco Uploads a Video of Himself Singing Ke$ha to YouTube]" into a feature film starring James Franco. He volunteers to write the script for free and will even donate the Dr. Pepper and Funyuns.