I heard a peculiar and rather pointless story out of UCLA on the radio about an hour ago. Apparently actor James Franco was slated to address the student body at their upcoming commencement ceremonies, but has pulled out after a student protest.
Before hearing why, I thought it may be because of some role he had in a movie, or maybe he did something stupid. Nope. He's just inexperienced. The student who started the Facebook group to protest the selection said she liked his acting and thought he was a good person, but didn't like how they picked a student who had graduated a year ago. Franco received his degree from UCLA in 2008.
He has been replaced by Brad Delson, the lead guitarist from Linkin Park, who graduated from UCLA in 1999. No protest is scheduled against him.
I think this was a pointless exercise put on by bored students. I don't know why this is a national story, either. Sure, it's interesting in that a young actor can't give a speech, but he didn't do anything stupid. He's just young and inexperienced.
And, on top of that, they're getting some other guy who probably has just as much to tell the students, only he's not a trained actor. I'd rather have a Hollywood star ten times out of ten as opposed to whoever I had at my graduation. The Class of 2007 at Worcester Polytechnic Institute was treated to a speech by... Deborah Dunsire MD, President of Millennium Pharmaceuticals, who coincidentally had just donated a lot of money to the new Gateway Park, and were planning on funding various biomedical research projects at the new facility that almost none of the graduates would ever use. I remember absolutely nothing from her speech. What I do remember was Neil deGrasse Tyson getting up to receive an honorary degree. The famous TV astronomer said "Don't forget: nerds rule the world" and mentioned how he had Pi to 1,000 significant figures on his PDA. He was awesome. He probably spoke for three minutes and I remember more of what he said than Deborah Dunsire (who I had to look up as I wrote this post). That was two years ago.
Commencement speeches are usually very boring, and I hope Delson bores the UCLA Class of 2009 to tears out of spite. I'm sure he's a great guy, but I'd much rather have James Franco, who is a professionally trained entertainer. At least I'd remember something.