Perpetually dick-nosing artiste James Franco is an infamous selfie taker. You may recall, for instance, the time he posted one from the tarmac at LAX while his plane was delayed due to a shooting in the airport. That said, today the New York Times published an op-ed by Franco in which he explains why he posts so many selfies: because people “like” them more on social media than they do other things he posts. Here’s how the thing starts out…
Selfies are something new to me, but as I have become increasingly addicted to Instagram, I have been accused of posting too many of them. I was called out on the “Today” show, and have even been called the selfie king.
Maybe this is so, but only because I’ve learned that the selfie is one of the most popular ways to post — and garner the most likes from followers.
Oh boy. He goes on…
I can see which posts don’t get attention or make me lose followers: those with photos of art projects; videos telling the haters to go away (in not so many words); and photos with poems. (Warning: Post your own, and you’ll see how fast people become poetry specialists and offer critiques like “I hate you, you should die.”)
But a well-stocked collection of selfies seems to get attention. And attention seems to be the name of the game when it comes to social networking. In this age of too much information at a click of a button, the power to attract viewers amid the sea of things to read and watch is power indeed. It’s what the movie studios want for their products, it’s what professional writers want for their work, it’s what newspapers want — hell, it’s what everyone wants: attention. Attention is power. And if you are someone people are interested in, then the selfie provides something very powerful, from the most privileged perspective possible.
We speak of the celebrity selfie, which is its own special thing. It has value regardless of the photo’s quality, because it is ostensibly an intimate shot of someone whom the public is curious about. It is the prize shot that the paparazzi would kill for, because they would make good money; it is the shot that the magazines and blogs want, because it will get the readers close to the subject.
In summary, James Franco posts selfies because he’s obsessed with gaining followers and getting “likes,” just like a 15 year-old girl. It may be time to just blow up the internet, you guys.