I'm not completely averse to celebrities jumping into the writing game, for the record. I know critics delight in tearing shreds out of people like Billy Corgan or Pamela Anderson for fancying themselves poets and novelists and I also know that celebrities probably have an easier time finding a publisher, but that doesn't mean, necessarily, that some popstars and actors can't also excel in the literary arts. I happened to quite enjoy a short story of Tom Hanks last year.
Thinking then I was approaching James Franco's "Just Before the Black" with an open mind, I nonetheless found, at first, the story to be immature and told by a bit of an obnoxious dude. However, a short while later I realized that maybe I was being influenced too much, too negatively, by Franco's persona. And, lo and behold, I was having an actual emotional connection to the story.
First off, he's obnoxious because he thinks he's better than his friend. Second, I had a bad reaction to this because in my teenage years I was sometimes that obnoxious dude and sometimes the friend of the obnoxious dude. Both suck. Finally, and also recalling my own past, Franco's narrator is both depressed and also morbidly enjoying being depressed. Been there as well. So it hit close to home on a few levels and made me uncomfortable and I suddenly find myself conceding that Franco has written a plausible story and made me feel something. I've never faulted an author for that before, I've given them credit, in fact. Franco will be no exception.
Fame, be damned.