Celebrities have a long and strange tradition of using animals on the red carpet. Sometimes these animals are part of a promotion, like in Kangaroo Jack. Other times, however, they're used as something of a shield. And, in some cases, they're like a prop in a "love me" campaign.
Take, for example, James Franco, who stepped out on the red carpet holding a kitten for the Broadway Barks 16 event on Sunday night. At this annual gathering, Broadway stars help find homes for dogs and cats in need of adoption. So, not only is Franco holding a kitten, but a homeless one, at that.
Here, the kitten functions as a subliminal message. "Don't hate me," says this photo. "I can be loving. Witness the way in which I hold this kitten and look quite lovely doing so." It's enough to make you forget about some of his otherwise eye-roll-inducing behavior (we're looking at you, Gucci Mane selfie).
We imagine a line of reporters, anxious to ask the actor about how he manages to evade Kim Jong-Un's wrath, or whether or not he plans to write essays about every woman he's slept with. Perhaps they'd even broach the topic of his Palo Alto Insta-prank. Instead, these journalists are disarmed by Franco's feline forcefield.