James Franco Misses The Point With An Ode To His Job At McDonald's

Photo: Gregory Pace/BEImages.
This week, while financial headlines were crowded with news about McDonald's falling stock prices, James Franco jumped in to defend the iconic hamburger joint. While millions of fast-food workers have been protesting their low salaries and a number of politicians have been calling for a higher minimum wage, Franco stepped to the defense of the corporation. The actor/writer/director worked at a Mickey D's in the Valley for a few months way back in the mid-'90s (when he was an aspiring actor / college dropout), and he has high praise for the place.

"I was treated fairly well at McDonald’s," he wrote in the Washington Post. If anything, they cut me slack. And, just like their food, the job was more available there than anywhere else. When I was hungry for work, they fed the need."

In reminiscing about his days working at the drive-thru window — a well-off kid choosing to get by on a fast-food job while he pursued his ultimate dream — Franco neglects a very serious reality: Most McDonald's employees aren't just there to pass time before they make it in Hollywood, or go to college, or move on to something better-paying. These workers depend on these low-paying jobs to support their families.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo wrote an op-ed in today's The New York Times, outlining the need for a higher minimum wage. The statistics he shared were staggering:

Many assume that fast-food workers are mostly teenagers who want to earn extra spending money. On the contrary, 73% are women, 70% are over the age of 20, and more than two thirds are raising a child and are the primary wage-earners in their family. Fast-food workers and their families are twice as likely to receive public assistance compared with other working families. Among fast-food workers nationwide, 52% — a rate higher than in any other industry — have at least one family member on welfare.
In the past year, more and more fast-food workers have begun to organize, strike, and protest their low wages. The "Fight For $15" campaign has spread across the country, and as a result, more and more companies are raising their minimum wages — including Wal-Mart and Starbucks. Even McDonald's is joining in (though only at its company-owned restaurants).

In today's economy, it's harder than ever for teens to find part-time employment, and it's discouraging to see so many women stuck in low-paying jobs, struggling to make ends meet. Franco has every right to sentimentalize his salad days in fast food, but his stratospheric rise from fry guy to superstar is a one-in-a-million story. Next time he pontificates on breaking news, it would be nice to see him spend less time talking about himself and the sad affairs of a multi-billion-dollar corporation, and more time discussing the 3.6 million-plus fast-food workers who could use our support. 

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