James FrancoJames Franco, actor and seemingly confirmed Internet lech, has publicly addressed his leaked attempt to bang a 17-year-old girl. If you missed this thrilling bit of news, Franco engaged in an Instagram exchange with a Scottish teen named Lucy Clode, asking her how old she was, what hotel she was staying at, whether she had a boyfriend, and whether he should rent a room. The whole thing got posted online, and now Franco has shamefacedly apologized for his actions during a Friday appearance on Live! With Kelly and Michael.

But is this all a publicity stunt for his new movie, in which he plays an older man seducing a young girl? Or was it just fantastic timing for Franco to be revealed as a total creeplord, since everyone will wonder if it's a publicity stunt?

My money's on publicity stunt, personally. It's not that I find it so far-fetched that James Franco would be interested in getting it on with someone half his age, it's that there are just too many weird angles to this story. I mean, he comes out on Live! With Kelly and Michael and instantly addresses the leaked hookup attempt, saying,

I was feeling awkward — I didn’t want to come on the show and just feel awkward.

He doesn't really look like he feels awkward, though. Check it out:


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Franco tries to explain himself, sort of:

I’m embarrassed, and I guess I’m just a model of how social media is tricky. It’s way that people meet each other today, but what I’ve learned — I guess because I’m new to it — is you don’t know who’s on the other end. You get a feel for them, you don’t know who you’re talking to. I used bad judgment and I learned my lesson.

While this is probably intended to stir up outrage over what appears to be the worst excuse in the world -- you didn't know you were talking to a 17-year-old girl, after she SAID she was 17? -- I'm raising an eyebrow at the whole "I'm new to social media" thing. After all, this is the same guy who posted a series of staged paparazzi photos on Instagram last September, deliberately provoking gossip sites with images of him "caught" in various scandalous moments.

Yeah. Preeeeeeeeeeeetty sure James Franco knows how Instagram works. But is it possible that someone out there truly doesn't know the original meaning of the #hashtag sign?



#Comeon #Notbuyingit

Finally, there's the timing of it all: the two "met" on April 1, which also happens to be when the official trailer for his new film Palo Alto hit the web. Palo Alto is based on James’ 2010 book of short stories, and it's a high school drama about a forbidden romance that develops between a single father (Franco) and a young student (Emma Roberts). So is it art imitating life? Or the other way around?

If this ever actually gets revealed as a hoax, I have to give him props -- he certainly got the attention he was looking for. But I'm not sure how many people will rush to his movie as a result of the prank. As one of my friends on Twitter put it,

What's your call on this whole Instagram drama with James Franco? Real or fake?


Image via Live! With Kelly and Michael