A Dude’s Take on James Franco Movies

Supporters of the show usually say its lack of diversity reflects the social segregation of our country, and they have a point. Going to high school in Palo Alto, I definitely saw cliques form along racial lines. But the argument is harder to swallow when the subjects are educated twenty-somethings in New York City. Maybe I have a limited perspective, because the programs I was (sic) in were extremely diverse, but I’ve found that my friends and collaborators hail from a rich background of races and nationalities.

There’s no obligation to be kaleidoscopic, but there’s a difference between writing a short story or essay about a bunch of white people that only a handful of people will read and creating another show about white people that millions of people will watch, especially when you’ve chosen to set that show in one of the most culturally mixed cities in the world.

That’s a sample from James Franco’s editorial “A Dude’s Take on Girls” in the Huffington Post nearly a year ago (Nothing like being timely, eh Dodgy?). So basically, Franco was saying there should be more black people on Lena Dunham’s Girls.

Franco said he’s been in programs that were (correct verb) extremely diverse. Is he talking about after-school programs or TV programs like Freaks and Geeks, where I don’t recall one black or Asian freak or geek? Or does he mean his films?

Let’s take a look at Mr. Diversity’s most popular movies and see how diverse they are, especially when it comes to black characters, although you could pretty much play this game with Asians and other races/cultures and have the same outcome. We’re looking at leading or supporting roles, not some extra or someone with a few lines and they’re gone.

We’ll start with the Spider-Man films, since, like Girls,  they were all set in New York City, “one of the most culturally mixed cities in the world” – and a city Franco lives in, or has lived in.

Spider-Man 1-3

Bill Nunn plays the editor at the Bugle, the newspaper Peter Parker works at. Very small role – almost doesn’t even count in the system we’re using. Three NYC-based movies and all you get is Bill Nunn. We have some green, as in Green Goblin, but NYC isn’t looking so culturally mixed in these films, eh James?

Pineapple Express

I didn’t see this film, but I know the only diverse character with good screen time is Franco’s buddy Craig Robinson, who we will learn is the “go-to” black guy in Franco films.

127 Hours 

You pretty much only have Franco and two Wrigleyville-looking white girls.


I haven’t seen this Oscar-nominated  film. But a little research will tell you it’s as white as milk.

Your Highness

There is this one black dude played by Deobia Oparei. His name in this not critically acclaimed movie is “Thundarian.”

The Green Hornet

Just a cameo role, and more green, but not so much else from the color wheel. Oh wait. There is another black character with a funny name, “Chili” – played by The Walking Dead‘s Chad Coleman.

Eat Pray Love

Viola Davis has a small role in as Julia Roberts character’s best friend. I don’t believe Franco eats, prays, or loves anyone really culturally diverse here.

Rise of the Planet of the Apes

Out of all these movies, this one probably has the most interaction between a Franco character and a non-Craig Robinson black one. His boss in the movie was played by David Oyelowo. There is the lovely Indian actress Freido Pinto.

Oz the Great and Powerful

Again, more green, but nothing much else except for the Scarecrow creator, Master Tinker (another funny name on a black character in a Franco film).

Spring Breakers

Honestly, if this movie was culturally rich I don’t recall. Not with all that white flesh coming out of bikinis. Selena Gomez (Hispanic!) – who doesn’t love her like a love song?

This Is the End

The new Franco film coming out. It’s  him and his friends and collaborators playing versions of themselves when the world is ending. So that means: Seth Rogen, Jay Baruchel, Jonah Hill, Jason Segel, Danny McBride and Evan Goldberg (director/writer). Then there’s Michael Cera, Paul Rudd, and Emma Watson. Oh, and in the non-caucasian corner we have – tada! –  Craig Robinson. And I think Kevin Hart makes an appearance. Wait a minute. I thought Franco’s friends and collaborators came hail from a rich background of races and nationalities?

Spring Breakers

Look James! Four white girls (Ok, one’s Hispanic) – just like “Girls” ! (Spring Breakers)