Nearly five months after James Franco was accused of sexual misconduct by five of his former female acting students, his close friend and co-star Seth Rogen is speaking out. In a new interview with Vulture, Rogen is breaking his silence on the Franco allegations. But, he isn't saying much when perhaps he should be.
When asked about the allegations that Franco sexually exploited his students by pressuring them to participate in nude scenes, removing the plastic guards covering actresses' vaginas during simulated oral sex, and pressuring one woman to perform a sex act in her car, Rogen said he wasn't the person who should be commenting. "The truth is that my perspective on this is the least relevant perspective," he said. "I’m friends with these people and I’m a dude. All that combined makes me the last person who should be talking about this."
Rogen said the allegations won't change his willingness to work with Franco in the future and that he isn't the person to speak on behalf of the #MeToo movement. "There are so many people with real things to contribute to the #MeToo discussion that anything I say is not going to add anything useful," he said.
It's not surprising that Rogen wouldn't feel comfortable weighing in on the allegations against Franco, who he's known since he was a teenager when they both starred on Freak and Geeks together. The two have appeared alongside one another in films like Pineapple Express, The Interview, and most recently, The Disaster Artist. But, the reasons Rogen gives for not commenting — being Franco's friend, being a dude — are exactly why he should be.
Women want to hear from men on this topic, especially those men who are friends with alleged offenders, to understand the other side of this issue. In fact, women need to hear what it is that men think about sexual misconduct in the workplace so that things will change for the better, not just for women, but for everyone. Harassment and assault are systemic problems that can only be remedied when everyone gets involved, even when it's uncomfortable. Sometimes that means listening, while other times that means speaking up.
Especially when Rogen makes the point that with his recent work — starring in Neighbors 2 and producing Blockers, directed by Kay Cannon — he's trying to push progressive stories. Even saying he is looking to do more with his films by way of representing women and minorities.
"We’re hyperaware of trying to be as representative as possible in the directors and writers and actors we work with. I’m sure we could definitely be doing more to be ahead of the curve in that way," he told Vulture. "But, again, I couldn’t be more aware that my perspective is not one people are clamoring for." Maybe no one's clamoring for it, but people are definitely interested in hearing what Rogen has to say on this issues whether he believes it or not.
Rogen isn't the only one close to Franco who's been asked about the allegations. Franco's sister-in-law Alison Brie was asked to comment on the SAG Awards red carpet earlier this year, and she did, giving a very diplomatic answer.
"I think above all what we've always said is that it remains vital that anyone who feels victimized should and does have the right to speak out and come forward," she said. "I obviously support my family and not everything that's been reported is fully accurate so I think we're waiting to get all the information. But of course now is a time for listening, and that's what we're all trying to do."
Franco first denied the allegations through his lawyer, and later responded directly to them during an appearance on The Late Show With Stephen Colbert. Franco said that the allegations were "not accurate, but I completely support people coming out...because they didn’t have a voice for so long. I don’t want to shut them down in anyway. It's, I think, a good thing and I support it."
If you have experienced sexual violence and are in need of crisis support, please call the RAINN Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).
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