James Franco: UCLA students protest their graduation speaker

Jamesfranco_l A UCLA senior majoring in English who opposed a decision to feature James Franco (Milk, Pineapple Express) as this year’s commencement speaker has created a Facebook page to protest the move. Already, some 300 people have become “friends” of the cause — the creation of Erin Moore, 21, who wrote on the page that “James Franco has been chosen as the speaker for the College of Letters and Sciences Commencement Ceremony for 2009. Clearly, this is ridiculous. Anyone who has been in his classes knows he is an average student at UCLA. This is an accomplishment while working in his industry, but he is our academic peer, which makes him an inappropriate choice for a keynote speaker.”

In an interview with EW, Moore explains that her beef wasn’t directed toward Franco (who earned his degree in English with a concentration on creative writing from UCLA last year) but toward the university, which she believes could have chosen someone who has made “significant achievements to change the world.” She doesn’t believe Franco’s accomplishment in “keeping up a really large number of units while also having a movie career” is particularly inspirational.

Well, some other students thought otherwise. According to a UCLA spokeswoman, there was student participation in the committee that selected the speaker and “James Franco was the top recommendation. We’re happy he has accepted.”

According to an interview with NPR, Franco said he returned to UCLA to finish his undergraduate degree but was concerned that his classmates and teachers may think he was coasting through while maintaining an acting career, so he signed up for additional courses to show his commitment. In his last quarter, he apparently signed up for 62 units.

“I think he’s a good actor,” Moore says of Franco. “I just don’t think he’s changed the structure of our society just yet.”

A call into Franco’s publicist was not returned Thursday afternoon. The Facebook page features a picture of Franco sleeping in what appears to be a lecture hall but Moore admits it wasn’t taken by her. She got it off of TMZ.com.

More James Franco:
EW’s 2008 profile of the Pineapple Express star

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  • anoop

    Saw that pic too, poor choice.

  • Jason H.

    Shouldn’t this young woman be spending her time studying?

  • Mike

    Wow. This is a little ridiculous. I don’t even remember who I had for a speaker at my graduation. I would’ve loved to have had James Franco whether he was just an average peer or not! This girl should be happy she got anyone worth while!

  • arryana

    word, mike – i had al gore’s daughter speak at our graduation and she was boooooooooring…zzz…
    i think franco would prove to be an entertaining speaker seeing as how that is what his career is all about.

  • Al

    Since when the fukk does a commencement speaker have to have “changed society” to speak in a commencement speech. That’s asinine logic, considering the kids have just graduated college. And her claim that handling a lot or credits while managing a movie career isn’t inspirational is idiotic because I’m sorry, that’s difficult as hell. I know I wouldn’t even dare doing that. College alone is difficult, and that just shows hard work ethic. She’s just making too much of a big deal about something small, and quite frankly I think she’s wrong because Franco left college to make a life for himself, and he succeeded, and then came back because he chose to. That is actually a legitimately worthwhile message, when a moviestar does something personal and passionate. Sounds like this chick just wants attention, and is doing a bad job of supporting her case unless she’d have a lot more than 300 friends. She’s gonna have a lot more enemies. She’ll learn a lesson from this.

  • Melissa

    He was also in another little film last year, what was it called? Mmm…oh yeah, MILK! Why would you credit him with Pineapple Express and leave it at that?

  • RayT

    Erin Moore sounds like the girl that no one talks to and that everyone avoids inviting to parties. She probably tried to flirt with James Franco in class and he ignored her.

  • Mathieu

    God, that girl sounds insufferable. How many people would meet her ridiculously high criteria for the simple task of giving a speech to a bunch of students? Jeez, get a life!

  • AJ Yoakum

    She does the worst job ever of “not insulting” Franco. Who even remembers who speaks at their graduation? I don’t, and I graduated a little over a year ago.

  • Arturo

    Hahahahaha, this is so funny. I think this girl is obviously jealous because she is not the speaker. She probably is also angry ’cause she never had the chance to talk with James Franco. Suck it Erin!

  • Veronica

    I really don’t think it’s necessary to be insulting Erin (whom I’ve met and really is a nice girl). As a member of the group, I think we’re just expressing the fact that we think the commencement speaker should be somebody that has done more since graduating and not somebody who is invited back (a year after graduating) just because he is famous. It’s our commencement speaker, we feel we have a right to express whether or not we approve of the decision.
    That said it’s just a facebook group, really, you guys wouldn’t even care if it was somebody who did contribute significantly to society but wasn’t in movies. There will always be somebody protesting who is speaking, it’s better to speak up if we’re unhappy then accept everything like mindless drones.

  • Alison O

    I completely agree with the UCLA students. No offense to Franco, his acting ability is wonderful, but if UCLA were to choose an actor why not pick one who has risen to the top of the craft and then used that clout for a positive cause? ie – Bill Cosby was my brother’s graduation speaker and he made a great speech about respecting one’s self and others regardless of differences. In ’04 Jehan al-Sadat was my grad speaker. She was very compelling–inspiring a generation of young adults to speak up for those who cannot do so for themselves. She’s the former first lady of Egypt and played a huge role in the fight for womens rights in the middle east. Graduation speakers do matter. They set the tone and lay an example for what all students of that university should aspire to be. Franco is great, but choosing popularity over life-long dedication to a cause sends a damaging perception of what’s important in today’s society to members of the “ME generation.”

  • stacyMac929

    Unfortunately Veronica, this is the kind of world we live in today…protestors everywhere about every little thing, and the people who don’t really care for it or have RESPECT for anyone else’s opinion…sad really. Good for Erin for voicing her opinions and thoughts, I agree. She feels that there should be someone else out there more worthwhile to talk and inspire the students, but then who knows, maybe Franco COULD actually say something inspiring and worthy…being a “young adult and former student himself, living in the world, etc. I don’t agree with all the insults, though. I am a mother and I do my best to teach my child to respect other people for who they are. Because even bashing can crush one’s spirits and what they believe in. I’m sure Erin knew what kind of responses she’d get (good or bad) starting this protest and hopefully will handle it well!

  • dashiki

    I have one thing to say: WHO CARES?

  • Emma

    The hilarious part of all this (except for the fact that it’s classified as news) is “Already, some 300 people have become “friends” of the cause…” Come on, I could start a group about hating mushrooms and get that many members overnight, no problem. lol, it’s Facebook! Besides, most people would love to have Franco over the idiot senator/representative that they usually pick. UCLA should be psyched.

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