“Why helloooo there, friends!” A man bustled into one of James Franco‘s many gigantic lofts (this one located in the cool part of East-East Williamsburg, Brooklyn, which real estate agents had promised James was so hip and underground, there weren’t even trains in a 20 block radius). The man who entered the apartment was wearing giant glasses with a fake nose attached, a tutu dress, and a shirt that said “Fuck Celebrities.”
“Hello, Adrian Grenier,” said James Franco, sitting naked — save for the Eyes Wide Shut orgy mask he had picked up on his travels — on a hemp rug with his house-guest, actor/visionary Joaquin Phoenix, “Won’t you please come in and join our little party? Now that you are here, we can properly start the process of gratuitous self-congratulation.”
Joaquin Phoenix, barely recognizable and wearing thick shades, with his grown-back bushy beard pillow under his shirt to appear 30 pounds heavier, said nothing.
Adrian Grenier laughed heartily, and took the $3,000 camera he wore around his neck at all times to snap a photo of his two compatriots. “We all look so funny! Look at how not-seriously we take our status as A-list famous people! Did you know that I have made a documentary about how hard it is to be a paparazzo? It is really hard! You have to find famous people and take their pictures, while simultaneously pretending to not be famous yourself. Of course, it isn’t actually that hard, considering how many famous friends I have, such as you, James Franco, and you, Joaquin Phoenix. Actually, I do not see what the big deal is at all.”
James Franco sighed and removed his mask, revealing a face painted up as a Vaudevillian drag queen. “Although tonight is about how clever we all are, and I wouldn’t want to ruin that for anything, I can’t help but recognize a flaw in your plan, Adrian. If you can take pictures of famous people whenever you want, and then enlist your famous friends like Kim Kardashian and Ashton Kutcher to make a fake commercial in which you all complain about the very paparazzi that you claim to be studying, then does that not defeat the purpose of your whole experiment? I only ask because I myself am in the middle of writing three thesis papers and producing one documentary on the subject of celebrities who attempt to transcend their own cultural status and make meaningful work, only to fail completely when people realize that their ‘performance art’ is based entirely on their own inflated ego and sense that people actually give a shit.”
“Ah, layers upon layers, my friend!” said Adrian, helping himself to a copious amount a Concord grapes and brie cheese, which were being served by a young Thai boy who rolled his eyes when Adrian snapped a photo of him and handed him a card saying, “A. Grenier, Paparazzo.”
“What you don’t seem to realize is that I am only ironically casting Ashton and Kim in my faux-mercial, which will only be aired on YouTube because of viral marketing and ‘buzz.’ In truth, we all know that Ashton and Kim are the worst examples of tabloid hounds who crave attention, and thus putting them in something where they pretend they hate attention is…” Adrian paused for dramatic effect, “…ironic.”
“Of course,” Adrian backtracked quickly, for fear that someone may be secretly filming this night for a documentary, or mockumentary, or school project that would get released at Sundance, “Ashton and Kim are implicit on the joke, they participate with tongue fully in cheek, because everything we do must be done with a sly wink to the audience, so they know we are in on the joke of being us. So we are mocking who the public perceives us to be, not who we are. Plus, it’s great exposure.”
James turned to his friend Joaquin, “And what of you, Joaquin? You have been silent almost all tonight. Would you like to regale us with stories of your recent Letterman appearance, when you showed the world that your year-long descent into insanity was only a ruse, meant to act as a mirror to which Hollywood would see itself for the cannibalistic hype machine it really is?”
Joaquin made no response. Tentatively, James pushed one bright red, manicured finger into the belly of his Gladiator-star friend. Joaquin Phoenix toppled over, and a bunch of straw and stuffing fell out.
“How clever! That isn’t Joaquin Phoenix at all, but a scarecrow!” said Adrian, snapping hundreds of pictures of the prone figure from all different angles, “It seems our friend has out-meta-ed us all!”
“Yes,” James Franco said solemnly, “Joaquin Phoenix, wherever he is, is truly the greatest smug shithead of the three of us.”