Deep Soap: ‘General Hospital’s Curious Franco Factor

James Franco on General Hospital (ABC)

James Franco on General Hospital (ABC)

Today In James Franco: The New York Times Leaves Out The Interesting Part of the Story

Franco’s back on ‘General Hospital.’ So far, his appearances have precisely mirrored his initial run on the show, with him roaming around town disguised as a bum before cleaning up and preparing to wreak havoc.

This time around, I know it’s going to be a campy, ridiculous storyline that will once again make  Jason (Steve Burton) the hero. My lowered expectations will probably make for a better viewing experience.  What has changed is that the mainstream media coverage has gone from “Why the hell is James Franco doing this?” to “James Franco is an ambitious performance artist.”  It’s an interesting study in how soaps are covered by those who don’t watch soaps.

The ‘General Hospital‘ location shoot at the Museum of Contemporary Art even serves as a centerpiece for a New York Times profile on MOCA’s new director, Jeffery Deitch, who, like every other person James Franco has ever met, will be making a cameo appearance on GH. Here’s how The Times described the scene: “That the museum had become a soap opera set was pure Deitch, for better or worse: stuntlike, crazily experimental, scrambling high and low culture, risking ridicule and seeming not to care much when it rains down on his head.”  It’s a typical NY Times take on soap operas.  Here’s the funny part: the museum board member quoted about the hiring of controversial Deitch is Maria Bell, yes, the headwriter of ‘The Young & The Restless,’ who made the acquisition a Damien Hirst shark in formaldehyde a key plot point in a Y&R story. Bell is quoted as saying, “Why not be nimble enough to add programming that can be done in a shorter time, to be tapping into the contemporary art world as it’s happening?” Curiously, the Times never mentions Bell’s soap connection, which, to me, says a lot more about how ridiculous it is to divide art into high and low culture than any location shoot ever could.

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