by Daniel Luzer
James Franco, star of Milk, Pineapple Express and the Spider-Man movies, is coming to Yale for PhD in English after getting his MFA at Columbia. Our sources tell us he’ll be here starting in September, though lucky Yalies may see him around campus in the coming weeks for admitted students events. Franco was on campus earlier this academic year for a Berkeley College Master’s Tea, causing a huge commotion among the ladies, the gays and the soap-opera fans. Something tells me he won’t be on campus all that much, but if he does decide to do the typical grad student thing, GPSCY [the Graduate and Professional Student Center at Yale] is bound to get a lot more popular.
But despite the fact that Franco once appeared in the best show on television ever, not everybody is pleased with the possibility of Franco in New Haven. As my buddy Adam Weinstein over at Mother Jones said to Franco:
You are not a frigging aspiring English professor or cultural critic. And if you think you are, then feel free to email me, and let’s slip you into a quickie MoJo interview about your literary influences and interests. ‘Cause I’m sincerely curious.
There are literally thousands of aspiring academics who apply to the top-tier doctoral programs each year; Yale liberally estimates that it accepts 12, which is double the number of most peer programs. Blowing one of those spaces on a guy who can pay his way, but will still occupy space in small-section seminars and colloquia, and will take up the time of a faculty member who’ll supervise his dissertation—all that comes at an opportunity cost to the other hard-working candidates who see their chances of a tenure-track position dwindling.
The story is a piece of hackwork (“I love driving down an empty dark freeway, lit up intermittently by the lights at the side of the road, and when I see the lights, I think of all the little worlds out there, all the little animals living in their habitats out there ”). But what about Franco’s desire to just improve his miiiind, man?