A picture is worth a thousand words, but a selfie is worth a thousand likes — so says the wisdom of James Franco, at least.
The “Rise of the Planet of the Apes” and “This is the End” actor wrote an article for The New York Times to explain the art of the selfie, and why Instagram and social media users are so fond of taking photographs of themselves. In the piece, Franco explains that in his experience, photos of art projects and poems don’t gain as much attention as his selfie-centered posts.
“A well-stocked collection of selfies seems to get attention,” he writes. “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.”
Franco adds that the celebrity selfie wields its own particular power. Unlike traditional selfies, which tend to see users photographing themselves in unusual and extreme circumstances, Franco believes the celebrity selfie is at its most powerful when depicting subjects in mundane, every-day situations.
“It has value regardless of the photo’s quality, because it is ostensibly an intimate shot of someone whom the public is curious about,” writes Franco, citing Justin Bieber and Taylor Swift as savvy selfie-celebs. “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.”
But Franco, the so-called selfie king, is quick to point out that his Instagram account isn’t made of selfies only. He describes it in Hollywood terms: “You’re safe if you trade ’one for them’ with ’one for yourself,’ meaning for every photo of a book, painting or poem, I try to post a selfie with a puppy, a topless selfie or a selfie with Seth Rogen, because there are all things that are generally liked.”
Got all that? With Franco’s advice in hand, you too can become a selfie king — or at least a selfie duke.