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Paly removes James Franco artwork following sex-misconduct allegations

Original post made on Feb 1, 2018

Palo Alto High School has painted over a mural and plans to remove other campus artwork by alumnus and actor James Franco as he faces allegations of sexual misconduct.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Thursday, February 1, 2018, 1:41 PM

Comments (93)

Posted by Guilty until Proven innocent
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Feb 1, 2018 at 3:06 pm

Guilty until Proven Innocent

Society has turned.


Posted by Lynn
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Feb 1, 2018 at 3:08 pm

This seems really premature. It's a shame that this 'trial by press' reinforces to our kids that they can believe everything on the Internet before waiting to fully judge based on a court conviction.


Posted by Peter
a resident of Palo Verde
on Feb 1, 2018 at 3:30 pm

Palo Alto High School shall now sentence you to trial by public opinion!


Posted by Samuel L.
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 1, 2018 at 4:02 pm

Samuel L. is a registered user.

@ Lynn
A court conviction? Is that the only way to determine if someone has done something wrong? Do you really think that any of these will make it to court? Do you then not believe that Franco didn't do anything wrong [portion removed] with these women? [Portion removed.]

Does a public school need to put Franco up on a pedestal? I don't think so.


Posted by Not a Trial by press
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 1, 2018 at 5:11 pm

[Post removed.]


Posted by Guilty by Post
a resident of Barron Park
on Feb 1, 2018 at 5:36 pm

[Portion removed due to deletion of referenced comment.]


Posted by Sports Guy
a resident of Midtown
on Feb 1, 2018 at 6:02 pm

Sports Guy is a registered user.

It's funny that the Paly administration jumped on this current social hot point quickly, with really no basis other than allegations, but let a student-athlete remain in school after he was charged with sexual battery (as previously reported in the Weekly). This is just another CYA move by Paly following its negative media attention in recent months. Imagine if NBA standout and former Paly star Jeremy Lin did something inappropriate. Would his image in the new gym be removed? Based on the Franco mural removal, Lin or anyone else would have to be removed, as well. Think how idiotic that sounds.


Posted by GraceBrown
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 1, 2018 at 7:15 pm

GraceBrown is a registered user.

It is important for parents and other stakeholders to speak up.


Posted by Katey
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Feb 1, 2018 at 7:20 pm

I agree 100% with Sports Guy's comment. Where was that quick action with a convicted sexual predator on campus last year? Was it because he hadn't done any painting to help them take any serious action? Spineless and soulless administrators...... Keep taking pride in actions that are meaningless and see how far that gets you.


Posted by anon
a resident of Menlo Park
on Feb 1, 2018 at 9:52 pm

> "This is just another instance where the words and the actions don't match," one parent wrote in an email to the school board, Diorio and the district's Title IX coordinator. "PAUSD and PAHS state that they're taking the issue of sexual assault/harassment seriously and are concerned with student safety. Yet, when there is an opportunity to act, it is delayed and incomplete."

This seems confused. Removal of the mural is merely symbolic, and I think quite unlikely to deter by itself any future incidents of harassment. Maybe there are other actions that might actually make a real difference.

Nonetheless, it's up to Paly to decide what it has on its walls, but trial by press is ugly.


Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 1, 2018 at 10:18 pm

I disapproved of his attempted firing of the NYU professor who tried to give Franco an F for not showing up to class (master’s program, as I recall); Franco went to the university president in a huff. Pompous Hollywood person. I am not impressed.


Posted by WhyTheOutrage
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 1, 2018 at 10:40 pm

Read the text messages published online that James Franco sent to a 17 year old in which he tried to meet her in a hotel room, pursuing her even after she stated she was under 18. Read the interviews he did afterwards in which he did not deny the authenticity of the published texts and made excuses for his behavior. These incidents have re-surfaced in the past month and do not require a jury conviction for a school district to decide that maybe this person isn't the best role model for the student body and shouldn't be featured so prominently throughout the campus.

There are many accomplished alumni from Paly in many different sectors who have not been accused of sexual misconduct by multiple females that can be held up as role models for the current students and/or honored on the walls of the school.


Posted by Northneighbor
a resident of Downtown North
on Feb 2, 2018 at 12:33 am

Guilty umtil proven innocent. How convenient that these allegations were made after Franco won the Golden Globe. Is there a reason why these women were silent at the beginning of the #MeToo movemwnt when other victims werw sepakimg out. Did anyone question the women's timimg? I think removing Franco's artwork was a premature decision...which I am not surprised by.


Posted by MyOpinion
a resident of another community
on Feb 2, 2018 at 8:21 am

Seriously? Well, then they had better go through all the authors in the library and ban the books of those who have inappropriately taken advantage of women, it's a long list. Oh and don't forget the works of artists and musicians.

And in this case? I don't think the kids care one way or another, it's just another example of grownups grandstanding. I suggest these school administrators focus on educating children, not making political statements.


Posted by Paly Grad '73
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Feb 2, 2018 at 9:24 am

It is a proven fact that painting over these murals will undo whatever sexual transgressions James Franco may have committed.

Get over yourselves, Palo Alto. Conviction by Internet indeed.


Posted by Guy Montag
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Feb 2, 2018 at 9:27 am

I hope that they don't go on to eliminate from the school other artwork, books or music that was produced by anyone accused of bad stuff.


Posted by Paly Grad '73
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Feb 2, 2018 at 9:36 am

Paly principal Kim Diorio: "These are still allegations," Diorio told The Paly Voice. "I can't even say it (the decision to replace the mural) is based on fact because he's denied those allegations and hasn't been charged with a crime."

I suspect the decision was made by the superintendent. If so, this knee-jerk reaction proves you've got another idiot superintendent.


Posted by Kim's concerned with appearances
a resident of Midtown
on Feb 2, 2018 at 10:17 am

Kim, PALY's principal, asserts she desires to be "thoughtful". She appears to also be attempting to walk a fine line...like a negotiation is going on --> from her comment:

Web Link

“I made the decision we’ll take down the mural on the Student Center because I think that’s the one that’s most visible to the outside community,” Diorio said.

Is it just me or does her statement reflect more concern with the perceptions of the outside community than the perceptions/well being of the students in the environment she is responsible for creating?


Posted by Nayeli
a resident of Midtown
on Feb 2, 2018 at 12:01 pm

Nayeli is a registered user.

Apparently, the burden of proof in the Court of Popular Opinion is very low (or unnecessary). I'm not a James Franco fan really. However, it is a shame that people are willing to convict him in their minds even before hearing the actual evidence.


Posted by resident
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Feb 2, 2018 at 12:13 pm

The art shown in the paper was interesting and engaging. What a shame that it was painted over. All you had to do is paint over the name of the artist. Otherwise future students would not associate the art with a specific person. I would not know it was done by him without the name on it. Can this city just STOP for a minute, take a deep breath, and quit trying to obliterate any and every thing that is creative in nature. Also, please quit trying to rewrite history.


Posted by Byron Smith
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Feb 2, 2018 at 2:06 pm

What is next? Do we remove from libraries any books written by authors who in our opinion behaved inappropriately (Hemingway, etc.). What about painters who may behaved against our moral code (Pablo Picasso, etc.). The list is endless. Also (from what I read in the press) we are not talking about criminal activity here. Only *inappropriate* behavior based on the moral code of the moment.

If, in the past, people destroyed all art work that conflicted with the moral code of a period, there will be little art work left today. The behavior of most artists, sooner or later, conflicts with the moral code of a period. (For example, until recently, homosexuality was considered immoral. Can you imagine if all artwork generated by LGBTQ artists were destroyed in the past because of the old moral codes? What a loss that would have been for the humanity. So many of the great artists of the past come from the LGBTQ community.)

A sad moment for me was when the Taliban destroyed 2,000 year old monumental Buddist Bamiyan statutes because it was against their religion. They were so sure that they were doing the morally right thing. It is worthwhile to step back and ponder for a moment before we destroy artwork when we get caught in the movement of the day. We are better than that.


Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 2, 2018 at 2:16 pm

This is akin to changing the names of schools. It won't alter anything. James Franco went to Paly, that is a historical fact. Pretending that hiding his artwork will alter that is not going to alter that.

He has denied the allegations and since I have not been interested enough to look into this further it bothers me that he is being hung, drawn and quartered for something that may or may not have happened and may or may not have been just a different interpretation of events and motives.

I feel particularly sorry for young men now. It will soon be the case that the only way for them to meet a young woman will be through an online dating service and stealing a kiss will need a contract in writing.


Posted by Former PAUSD Parent
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Feb 2, 2018 at 2:26 pm

I doesn't matter who painted these buildings.
The painting looked trashy to many parents, former parents, big tax payers, and donors to the school. To many, it resembled graffiti. And with the new buildings on campus, it was not a good fit. Some students felt it was allowed to be done and stay up simply because it was done by a notorious person. It definitely sent a wrong message to many students.
It was unsightly to many, in the same way as the graffiti "art" seen on trains, trucks, billboards, and abandoned buildings.

Thank you for restoring this building back to it's clean look.


Posted by Samuel L.
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 2, 2018 at 2:55 pm

Samuel L. is a registered user.

@ Resident
Obviously you need a lesson on consent as well. No one should have to "steal a kiss".


Posted by Former Paly Parent
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 2, 2018 at 3:03 pm

Former Paly Parent is a registered user.

This is not just allegations, Franco has admitted to inappropriate behavior with an underage girl.
In 2014 he was on ABC and talked about meeting a 17 year old girl, asking if she had a boyfriend, for the name of her hotel and if he should rent a room.

Web Link


Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 2, 2018 at 4:40 pm

Samuel L.

Exactly my point. Stealing a kiss is a phrase that we can no longer say. We have to change our language, change our mindset and change our methods to get the birds and the bees to be politically correct. The only way for a young man to win the heart of his lady nowadays is get it in writing before he whispers sweet nothings. No more knights in shining armor galloping with the damsel in distress from the dragon's fire. No more flirtatious looks across a crowded room. Romance is officially dead.

I hope you recognize sarcasm when you see it. Of course I know what consent means. How did you meet your spouse?

But when the young lady attempts to initiate the flirt by dropping her handkerchief in the path of a handsome young gentleman, she only means that she wants him to ignore it.

The age of romance is hard to navigate nowadays.


Posted by Curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Feb 2, 2018 at 5:11 pm

Will they put those murals back if Franco gets exonerated?

How?


Posted by Resident
a resident of Crescent Park
on Feb 2, 2018 at 6:17 pm

Why should they have James Franco art there in the first place? Who ever heard of a high school hosting celebrity artwork - multiple pieces, no less? Student artwork, sure. Famous alum - huh? It's not like he is Mother Teresa or even Obama - he's a movie actor for heavens sake.

It was a distraction, it's gone, we can move on with blank walls or a student mural. Back to class everybody!


Posted by Jimmy J
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 2, 2018 at 7:18 pm

Jimmy J is a registered user.

[Post removed.]


Posted by Paly Grad '73
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Feb 2, 2018 at 11:47 pm

"The painting looked trashy to many parents, former parents, big tax payers, and donors to the school."

Perhaps the mural was painted over because it was ugly?

James Franco is a distinguished actor but not a distinguished artist. He should stick to acting.


Posted by Paly Grad '73
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Feb 3, 2018 at 12:43 am

There are still several paintings by James Franco hanging on interior walls which are being "transitioned" from view. One wonders what will happen to those paintings once they are removed.

[Portion removed.]


Posted by Peninsula Guy
a resident of Crescent Park
on Feb 3, 2018 at 7:53 am

I don't know many distinguished artists who led perfect lives. Shouldn't art be appreciated for the art itself? In general, when people look at paintings, they don't then research what sins the painter committed.


Posted by Believed it
a resident of Barron Park
on Feb 3, 2018 at 8:28 am

I blame society.
Really. I’m serious.
I totally blame society for this and all the damage being caused.


Posted by sophie
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 3, 2018 at 9:20 am

sophie is a registered user.

Art should be appreciated by itself, not the artisit’s reputation. Is James Franco’s mural good enough to be on this wall?


Posted by Believed it
a resident of Barron Park
on Feb 3, 2018 at 10:59 am

Ironic how one can find a work of art to be unappropriate, offensive, or controversial (maplethorp etc.), yet these are not valid grounds for suppressiing display of the artwork. However, simply the accusation of inappropriate behavior by the artist is deemed sufficient grounds to destroy their artwork.


Posted by children
a resident of Midtown
on Feb 3, 2018 at 11:21 am

Yet, when they knew about accusations in the past, they embraced him and had him coach classes without a care.The journalism teacher used his name to add publicity to her program without batting and eye. Honestly, I like much of the work James Franco does. I do not think his art should be removed or villified based on an accusation. It reminds me of Oscar Wilde or hundreds of other artists. I am surprised that the school is censoring material based on allegations. I am wondering if they will soon be burning books. Probably this will make the artwork worth more money which I am sure he will not be donating. Art is art and artists views and lives should never be expected to fit into ed code. Still. I hate to see anyone so publicly trashed before proven guilty. It is sad they are teaching the kids to think they can also treat people like this. Sad and embarrassing.


Posted by Nayeli
a resident of Midtown
on Feb 3, 2018 at 11:51 am

Nayeli is a registered user.

There have been lurid stories about Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. for decades. I am not talking about his issues with academic plagiarism. I'm talking about stories about him being a womanizer.

I wonder: If some of these stories came to light, would the school district remove references to Dr. King?

My point is that history -- and art -- is filled with flawed people. In this case, a man who has never been charged with a crime had his artwork removed from the school that he attended. Yes, he admitted to texting a 17-year-old girl (who told him that she was turning 18 in a few days) but the legal age of consent in NY is 17-years of age. Improper? Probably. Illegal? No.

Think of other famous artists whose work withstood impropriety of the artist:

Chuck Berry
Charlie Chaplin
Elvis
Richard Wagner
Edgar Degas
T. S. Eliot
Caravaggio
Jean Genet
Lord Byron
Gustave Flaubert
Ernest Hemmingway
Norman Mailer
Jack Gantos

I'd argue that the claims made against James Franco are petty compared to the facts about those included in the list above.


Posted by Paly Lacrosse Mom
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Feb 3, 2018 at 12:02 pm

If it’s image that the school is concerned with, why doesn’t the school spend some money on power washing the muddy football bleachers and the school grounds? Over between the science building and lacrosse field is a filthy mess with empty dirt planters and concrete with pasted on dirt. Can’t we have a more welcoming environment for our guests? Jordan is filthy as well. Spend some of the millions of PiE money on power washing. Why do there need to be eggs to power wash? Jerry Berkson, Assistant Principal of Operations, hello?


Posted by Reader
a resident of College Terrace
on Feb 3, 2018 at 12:54 pm

Franco's work doesn't hang at Paly because he's an artist - it's simply because he is famous. No other outside artists have their work on display there; the school isn't an exhibit space.

Only a fame obsessed place like Paly (and that journalism teacher) would tell a movie actor, sure, come paint us a mural, and sure, we'll hang some of your art around the place, simply to try to impress people. To make sure it's clear, Franco didn't paint or donate any of this when he was a student - it was all done recently, after he was famous.

Let's try focusing on the students for a change, not the vanity of the adults.


Posted by mauricio
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Feb 3, 2018 at 2:01 pm

mauricio is a registered user.

Franco's work, such as it is shouldn't have been exhibited in the first place. He was allowed to paint the mural because he is a Palo grad and a celebrity.

To clarify-Franco didn't exactly deny the accusations against him. He lawyered up once the accusations became public and issued an ambiguous statement. [Portion removed.] He also never denied that he invited an underaged girl to his hotel room, insisting she show up even after she informed him of her age. Readers are free to draw their own conclusions.


Posted by Paly Grad '73
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Feb 3, 2018 at 5:09 pm

The late Greg Brown was a renowned muralist whose works can be seen many places around Palo Alto. He graduated Paly in 1970 yet to my knowledge, not one piece of his art exists on the Paly campus.

He was an accomplished artist but not a movie star. If there were to be a mural at Paly it should have been painted by Greg Brown. Too late now.

They could burn James Franco's remaining paintings once they are taken down, reminiscent of the way a certain fascist dictator used to burn books in the 1930's.


Posted by Godwin's law
a resident of Barron Park
on Feb 3, 2018 at 5:36 pm

Finally! Web Link


Posted by Tim Buck II
a resident of Downtown North
on Feb 3, 2018 at 6:25 pm

At last, here's the precedent to deliver ourselves from our ugly overdevelopment rampage. Tear down every structure designed by a sexually harassing architect, everything erected by a sexually harassing developer, every office building owned in the least part by a sexual harasser or managed in any way by a sexual harasser. Dust clears, presto! Beautiful open skies everywhere.


Posted by Paly Grad '73
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Feb 3, 2018 at 9:02 pm

"At last, here's the precedent to deliver ourselves from our ugly overdevelopment rampage. Tear down every structure designed by a sexually harassing architect, everything erected by a sexually harassing developer, every office building owned in the least part by a sexual harasser or managed in any way by a sexual harasser. Dust clears, presto! Beautiful open skies everywhere."

You forgot eugenics.


Posted by Resident
a resident of Midtown
on Feb 4, 2018 at 6:43 am

Deeply disturbing. And they had to remove the Columbus statue in San Jose. Why?

Let a work of art stand on it's own. Art, in and of itself, is harmless. It's a work of a beauty.

Our adminstrators and politicians have the same extreme mentality as ISIS, notwithstanding the murders and beheadings.

Is this a massive deranged overreaction to the President?

When ISIS blew up the Arch of Triumph in Palmyra, we considered it an unspeakable tragedy. But do you realize how utterly sexually abusive and debacherous the Romans were by today's standards? It's funny how much our values can change in retrospect.


Posted by Unbelieveble
a resident of Barron Park
on Feb 4, 2018 at 9:58 am

The message here is: we will take actions right away as long as it does not make us look back: how come they did not removed the student-athlete, Mr. Wilson, or the administrators who have failed our students with special needs who were discriminated based on their disability. They let a crime happened and they were protected and even promoted.
I agree that the district shall wait till he is proven guilty. I hope Franco comes back with a good suit against the district for acting against him when at this point he has not been proven guilty. The district actions are very disappointing.


Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 4, 2018 at 11:43 am

To be sure, Mr. Franco is innocent until proven guilty. And, for that to happen, he would have to be charged with a crime. As far as I know, he hasn't even been accused of committing a crime. Unlike, {insert your favorite list here}.

On the other hand, until this incident, I was unaware that the murals and paintings were anything more than a celebrity publicity stunt. Is Mr. Franco is the next Diego Rivera? I guess I'll never know what I missed.


Posted by kids
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Feb 4, 2018 at 5:07 pm

I hope they are as quick with all the title nine complaints. glad to see a change.


Posted by mauricio
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Feb 4, 2018 at 6:32 pm

mauricio is a registered user.

To Anon:No, no no. In our celebrity, fame and money driven society, it is extremely difficult, near impossible, and just about ruinous for a female to succeed in proving her sexual assault case against a wealthy celebrity. The celebrity/wealthy person lawyer up and threaten the victim with financial/social/career ruin. Look what happened to the dozens of women accusing Trump of sexual assault. This cases will often never get to court. James Franco doesn't get a pass just because he was never convicted in a court of law for sexual assault. We know the routine by now.


Posted by Farenheit451
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 4, 2018 at 7:29 pm

The problem here is the mural was destroyed permanently. It is gone forever. It can never be recovered.

The mural could have been easily covered up until Franco's guilt or innocence was determined, or until the Palo Alto and/or the Paly community collectively came to a determination of how we, as a community, will be handling artwork when there are allegations of this nature against the artist. If, after a reasoned assessment, the mural is decided to be destroyed, only then should an irreversible destruction be made.

This was an act of ignorant mob violence against art. It had nothing to do with Franco.

Suppose the allegations against Franco are found to be utterly fabricated and in the future his artwork is seen to be significant? We Palo Altans will be viewed in the same light as the Taliban in Afghanistan.

Shame on all us.


Posted by Old Timer
a resident of Crescent Park
on Feb 4, 2018 at 7:36 pm

@f451,did you ever see the murals? The first was removed earlier because it was depressing. The more recent one will not be missed. This wasn't 'art', it was merely decoration. It had no meaning or purpose aside from promoting the schools relationship with Franco,which is to say no legitimate purpose at all.


Posted by Former Paly parent
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 4, 2018 at 8:03 pm

[Post removed.]


Posted by Farenheit451
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 4, 2018 at 9:08 pm

@Old Timer, there is no bright line between "art" and "decoration". For example, term "Art Deco" (Arts Décoratifs) comes from an art movement associated with decoration. Some art is depressing, some is uplifting, and different people view the same work differently, sometimes at a much later date than the work was created. The significance of Van Gogh's work wasn't recognized until after his death. While living, he was seen as an insane outcast of society.

We have no idea what ancient people thought of the art destroyed by the Taliban. It was almost certainly made by an tyrannical king exploiting slave labor and committing horrific acts against humanity. Much of it was decorative and dreary, if not depressing. Some people think that such creative works should be destroyed and that the Taliban was right to do so. But the international condemnation of such acts make it clear that most societies on earth see what the Taliban did as heinous.

The point is, irreversibly destroying a creative work is something that should be a reasoned decision made by the community as to how to handle situations like this. Just cover up the art/decoration until that decision is made.

We must not become a community that endorses mob violence against creative works. And, most especially, we should not be teaching our children that this is how civilized humans act.





Posted by Old Timer
a resident of Community Center
on Feb 4, 2018 at 9:30 pm

@f451, so I guess you never saw it. I don't think any who did were concerned about saving it for its artistic value. Mob violence? This was the lawful authorities removing an unloved decoration to provide a safe and welcoming environment for children.


Posted by PA resident, parent, former student.
a resident of Addison School
on Feb 4, 2018 at 9:50 pm

P.A. / PAUSD painted over Francos Mural? Of course they did! I would expect nothing less. Way to go Palo Alto. Lets show our Students how things are done in this city!


Posted by Farenheit451
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 4, 2018 at 10:47 pm

@Old Timer. You guessed wrong. My individual opinion of the mural as a creative work is not relevant, and neither is yours, other than as one voice in a reasoned decision by the community. The mural itself certainly wasn't unsafe and unwelcoming, and covered up it would be just as invisible as it is now.

There is a harrowing scene in "The Book Thief" movie where Nazi authorities dressed their children in Hitler Youth uniforms and burned every book they could find before them. In the view of that community, it was "lawful authorities removing unloved creative works to provide a safe and and welcoming environment for children." The children cheered because they were taught that mob violence destruction of creative works was something good. It's not, regardless of the cause. It's heinous.

Whether Franco is good/bad/innocent/guilty or whether the mural is art/decoration/depressing/ugly is utterly irrelevant.

That a creative work was irreversibly destroyed when it could have simply have been covered up until a reasoned assessment by the community is the only thing that matters.

Just stop destroying creative works before there is a reasoned assessment by the community, particularly within view of our children.


Posted by Old Timer
a resident of Community Center
on Feb 4, 2018 at 11:04 pm

It wasn't the community's decision to make. It was on school property and their call to make. They are responsible, and there is no mechanism for the community to decide what comes, stays, or goes, aside from electing school Board members. So it sounds like they did their job and removed the decoration that shouldn't have been there in the first place. The idea that every 'creative work' has some kind of sanctity is a little over the top.


Posted by Farenheit451
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 5, 2018 at 12:02 am

@Old Timer. No, this was outside the purview of the school system. I received the email just like every mother of a Paly student. They made it clear the timing of the mural's destruction was because of the recent allegations against Franco. It doesn't matter that the email said they weren't taking sides. By destroying the mural, their actions took a side.

In fact, they exposed the school system, the City and everyone involved in the decision to defamation claims from Franco. The news has spread worldwide and he can argue it undermined his ability to work. Given Franco's earning power, they may well get hit with a 10 million dollar lawsuit or more. Celebrity Hulk Hogan just won a $100 million dollar defamation lawsuit related to his sexual acts. It could wipe out the school system's budget and drag on for years in court.

At a bare minimum, the City, not the school, should have retained an attorney's advice before touching anything related to Franco at all. Had there been even a modicum of due process, this would have occurred.

I've worked by entire life to see us reach this #MeToo moment. And I won't stand by while its credibility unraveled by ill-advised actions like this. And what a nightmare it would be to see our school system destroyed as a result of these actions.


Posted by Samuel L.
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 5, 2018 at 7:46 am

Samuel L. is a registered user.

@F451 - I too received an email from the school district and nowhere does it say the murals we're removed due to any allegations against Franco. Please cite the part of the email where it mentions that as a reason for removal of the artwork.


Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 5, 2018 at 9:33 am

Posted by Farenheit451, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood:

>> @Old Timer. You guessed wrong. My individual opinion of the mural as a creative work is not relevant, and neither is yours, other than as one voice in a reasoned decision by the community.

>> There is a harrowing scene in "The Book Thief" movie where Nazi authorities dressed their children in Hitler Youth uniforms a

>> It's not, regardless of the cause. It's heinous.

>> Whether Franco is good/bad/innocent/guilty or whether the mural is art/decoration/depressing/ugly is utterly irrelevant.

>> That a creative work was irreversibly destroyed when it could have simply have been covered up until a reasoned assessment by the community is the only thing that matters.

>> Just stop destroying creative works before there is a reasoned assessment by the community, particularly within view of our children.

Farenheit, I would like to request that you reflect on what you are saying. Please think through how many creative works are created by everyone, from whimsical cartoons at the office, children in art classes, and, on the margins of their math homework, retirees painting for recreation according to the late Bob Ross' method. Your own hobby, whatever it is, photography, stamp collecting, gardening. Garden arrangements can be very creative. Do you honestly think that -every- creative work requires a full, reasoned community assessment before it is altered, destroyed, or even just put in storage? We would be drowning in creative work, building cities with nothing but museums to house all our creative work.

If James Franco is such a great muralist, I'm sure he will create more murals under better circumstances, in a more appropriate location, to demonstrate his artistry. For all I know, he already has.


Posted by Nayeli
a resident of Midtown
on Feb 5, 2018 at 10:06 am

@ Samuel L. - Are you insinuating that the school district removed the artwork for some other reason?


Posted by Samuel L.
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 5, 2018 at 12:10 pm

Samuel L. is a registered user.

Nayeli,
No, not insinuating anything. However, F451 says that the district had opened themselves up to a defamation suit for taking down the art. The district never said that the removal was related to the allegations. The link between the two is definitely possible, but the district avoids linking the two or even mentioning the allegations.


Posted by MyOpinion
a resident of another community
on Feb 5, 2018 at 2:46 pm

Interesting precedent, so I assume Paly will purge the school library of all books written by people who have done bad things. It is a long list.


Posted by Common sense
a resident of Mountain View
on Feb 5, 2018 at 3:31 pm

They should have removed the artwork long ago, on the more durable and readily-proven grounds that the man is merely yet another Hollywood dilettante pretending talent in diverse arts, and getting away with it only because he is a "celebrity" whose gushing fans will buy anything with his name on it. 15 years or so ago, a national magazine published an overview of this behavior among Hollywood stars, titled "A Galaxy of Dilettantes;" Franco is just another and late example.


Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 5, 2018 at 3:39 pm

Posted by MyOpinion, a resident of another community

>> Interesting precedent, so I assume Paly will purge the school library of all books written by people who have done bad things. It is a long list.

Because James Franco murals are universally admired as "art"?

Personally, I express no opinion on Franco's having done "bad things". Or not.

There is no "precedent"; your argument is a straw man argument. PAUSD has the responsibility and authority to paint its walls, hang paintings, or, take them down.

What I'm hoping people learn from this is that celebrities are-- celebrities. Seems simple, but, apparently it is difficult.


Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 5, 2018 at 4:08 pm

I tend to agree with Farenheit.

Yes, I think we are calling him guilty until proven innocent and that is bad enough.

But, he is a celebrity and he was asked or offered to come to Paly, his alma mater, to teach a class and do the artwork. Whether it is good or bad is what art is about but that isn't the discussion. If he had no scandals attached to his name, won a couple of Oscars, then this artwork would be valuable and something that Paly would want to boast and show off. His celebrity isn't quite there yet, but possibly when and if this scandal gossip gets forgotten, he could become one of the biggest names in Hollywood and then how will Paly look? Yes, there could be some possible lawsuit. Yes, there could be the necessity of some big settlement pay off. Yes, this could come back to haunt Paly.

This is not an unknown piece of graffiti on some highway overpass. It is, (or was) a piece of artwork by a celebrity, donated by him, and given as a gift to his old high school. The next time Paly has an alum who gains celebrity status, they may just want to disown and forget about coming back to share fame with future students.


Posted by MyOpinion
a resident of another community
on Feb 5, 2018 at 4:10 pm

@Anon - I don't care about James Franco one way or the other, and neither should these over paid school administrators. They should focus on education, too much time has been wasted on this ridiculous debate.


Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 5, 2018 at 4:38 pm

Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood

>> But, he is a **celebrity**

>> **celebrity**

>> isn't quite there yet, but possibly when and if this scandal gossip gets forgotten, he could become one of the **biggest names in Hollywood** and then how will Paly look?

>> This is not an unknown piece of graffiti on some highway overpass. It is, (or was) a piece of artwork by a **celebrity**

>> The next time Paly has an alum who gains **celebrity** status, they may just want to disown and forget about coming back to share fame with future students.

Thank you for making my point for me. And, anyway, was it good art?

--

Here is an explanation that explains my thoughts. Sorry, I'm not impressed by "celebrities":

Web Link

"In the future, everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes."

James Franco has appeared in about 130 films, TV episodes, etc., so far, according to IMDB. Not to mention as a producer, director, writer. I could be wrong, but, I assume that he would rather be known as an actor and so on, than, as a "celebrity".


Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 5, 2018 at 4:49 pm

Anon

I used the title "celebrity" because Franco happens to be an actor but I didn't use the word actor. Jeremy Lin is a basketball player and Joan Baez a singer. Celebrity was the word used to cover all who have become famous in their chosen field.

I assume we are not going to discuss which form of fame is more important to the school. Celebrity alums in any field should be celebrated equally.


Posted by Yuri
a resident of another community
on Feb 5, 2018 at 5:25 pm

Whatever happened to "Innocent Until Proven Guilty"? This is a dangerous road.
If James Franco is guilty, then let the system do its job. If he is innocent, Diorio and a few other are going to look like political lackey fools, unless of course, liberal Palo Alto does not care about basic Constitutional safeguards.


Posted by Nayeli
a resident of Midtown
on Feb 5, 2018 at 5:58 pm

Nayeli is a registered user.

@ Anon: "Because James Franco murals are universally admired as "art"?"

I suppose that the same thing can be said of ANY "art" -- including many pieces of "art" around Palo Alto.

Some people can look at a Picasso and wonder what all of the fuss is about. Others can look at a Bob Ross painting and think that it is a masterpiece.

Still, I think that some of the people here are concerned that the Franco mural was removed BECAUSE of the recent allegations. If that was the rationale, then it was a rushed or faulty one (at least in my opinion).


Posted by children
a resident of Barron Park
on Feb 5, 2018 at 7:57 pm

Have twitter feeds and social media now become trusted? why? These kids need to learn evidence based reasoning and hopefully they all know their own rights. Nothing else really matters. I hope some teachers will use this for some good discussions and past cases regarding the same issues here.


Posted by Donster
a resident of University South
on Feb 5, 2018 at 11:54 pm

"A court conviction? Is that the only way to determine if someone has done something wrong?"

That is the traditional method. Lynch mobs are another time honored method.


Posted by Yuri
a resident of another community
on Feb 6, 2018 at 5:42 am

Knee jerk so-called liberals who apparently have forgotten that liberalism is based on individual rights, due process, and the rule of law, not paranoid Stalinism. Let the facts be revealed and evaluated by logical, level heads, and justice will take its course. Our constitutional system is designed to avoid rash judgement. Start heading the other way and your freedoms will be erased like a mural before you know it.


Posted by Donster
a resident of University South
on Feb 6, 2018 at 8:08 am

Yuri, it is Palo Alto. What do you expect?

Maybe Mr. Franco did actually do things he shouldn't have. For the discussion going on here on Tiwn Square, what transpired or not is irrelevant.


Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 6, 2018 at 10:41 am

Posted by Yuri, a resident of another community

>> Knee jerk so-called liberals

I'm a liberal. From the Merriam-Webster online dictionary (edited to remove meanings not relevant here):

Definition of liberal
1 a : of, relating to, or based on the liberal arts
liberal education
5 : broad-minded; especially : not bound by authoritarianism, orthodoxy, or traditional forms
6 a : of, favoring, or based upon the principles of liberalism
b capitalized : of or constituting a political party advocating or associated with the principles of political liberalism; especially : of or constituting a political party in the United Kingdom associated with ideals of individual especially economic freedom, greater individual participation in government, and constitutional, political, and administrative reforms designed to secure these objectives

Like "bias", "racism", and so on, it is good to look up the standard meaning at times. Liberal is at the opposite end of the freedom spectrum from the usual meanings of "far-right/hard-right" and "far-left/hard-left", which are not well-defined in Webster, BTW, but, usually used to define authoritarian forms of capitalism and state-socialism. (See Wikipedia -- I can't post too many references here.)

>> who apparently have forgotten that liberalism is based on individual rights, due process, and the rule of law, not paranoid Stalinism. Let the facts be revealed and evaluated by logical, level heads, and justice will take its course. Our constitutional system is designed to avoid rash judgement.

If Mr Franco is actually charged with an actual ("inappropriate"?) crime, I certainly hope due process takes place and justice takes its course.

>> Start heading the other way and your freedoms will be erased like a mural before you know it.

Clever turn of phrase, but, it doesn't change the fact that PAUSD is carrying out its responsibility to control what student art projects do and don't remain painted on its walls. PAUSD took the opportunity to withdraw a project before it became a precedent. The ill-considered outcome of a transitory moment of celebrity celebration was corrected.


Posted by DiOrioBrutus
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Feb 6, 2018 at 10:48 am

#EtTu DiOrio?


Posted by Novelera
a resident of Midtown
on Feb 6, 2018 at 1:41 pm

So the museums in France should take down Pablo Picasso's work. The guy was a real dog.


Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 6, 2018 at 3:06 pm

Posted by Novelera, a resident of Midtown

>> So the museums in France should take down Pablo Picasso's work.

Picasso was certainly no Rembrandt. If I were the museum director, and, I had a space on a wall for a painting, and, I had a Picasso and a Rembrandt handy, I would hang the Rembrandt on the wall and put the Picasso in storage. For artistic reasons, not because:

>> The guy was a real dog.

For all I know (I'm not an art historian), Rembrandt was a real dog, too. But, he was a better painter.



Posted by A Parent
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Feb 6, 2018 at 3:32 pm

@Novelera,

I don't know about museums and Picasso, but if Harvey Weinstein's high school has his art work hung somewhere, yes, I think they should probably take it down.


Posted by Roger Dodger
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Feb 7, 2018 at 5:48 am

Franco's actual artwork was mediocre at best, and was feted almost entirely because he is a celebrity and it seemed like good PR at the time. Judged on its merits, there are a million other artworks that would/could be a vast improvement over what he contributed. All that said, the kids had a good time working on the project and as far as we know he kept his hands to himself, and it was nice of him to offer his time and energy. But oh how the mighty hath fallen.

On another note, regarding art, artists, and bad reputations, it will be interesting to see where this all ends. The latest high-profile artist to bite the dust in this whirlwind of crazy is Chuck Close, arguably the most important portrait artist alive today. Picasso was a notorious philanderer and misogynist; are all the major museums going to take down his work now too? Where's the line and how do we draw it?


Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 7, 2018 at 11:06 am

Posted by Roger Dodger, a resident of Old Palo Alto

>> On another note, regarding art, artists, and bad reputations, it will be interesting to see where this all ends. The latest high-profile artist to bite the dust in this whirlwind of crazy is Chuck Close, arguably the most important portrait artist alive today.

Chuck Close might be a better subject of discussion than James Franco. I say this because:

Web Link

Web Link

[I'm staying away from names here] Some of the rich and/or powerful, from Hollywood to Wall Street to Washington, have convinced themselves that behavior that seems to me to be functionally equivalent to systematic pimping, is OK. "Sexual Harassment" is an understatement in many cases.

But, Chuck Close, paraplegic/near-quadriplegic (since 1988), is basically being described as rude, crude, vulgar, {you-name-it}, whereas people (former admirers, employees and job seekers, etc.) expect(ed) him to be humble, modest, and well-mannered. I'm all in favor of good manners, but, to be actually surprised by bad manners seems, well, odd. Victorian, perhaps?

>> Picasso was a notorious philanderer and misogynist; are all the major museums going to take down his work now too?

Web Link

Picasso is long dead. "Misogynist" is slightly misleading; he appears to have used everybody in his long career. But, while sexual harassment is as old as mankind, the legal proscription is new-ish.

"Sexual harassment is a form of sex discrimination that violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Title VII applies to employers with 15 or more employees, including state and local governments. It also applies to employment agencies and to labor organizations, as well as to the federal government."

"Unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature constitute sexual harassment when this conduct explicitly or implicitly affects an individual's employment, unreasonably interferes with an individual's work performance, or creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work environment."

Web Link


Posted by Yuri
a resident of another community
on Feb 19, 2018 at 12:40 pm

"but, it doesn't change the fact that PAUSD is carrying out its responsibility to control what student art projects do and don't remain painted on its walls. PAUSD took the opportunity to withdraw a project before it became a precedent".

So how does PAUSD carry out this responsibility? Is there a policy regarding if and when artwork is put up or taken down? In Franco's case it seems that the district's perpetual quest for positive PR (as if what happens in the classrooms is not enough) led to the display. "Why not hitch our wagon to a celebrity alum's horse?" was the rule of thumb. I guess the district answered its own question in this case, which is why, absent some transparent policy, the mural was whitewashed. Any way you slice it, it is still a case of guilty until proven innocent, but of course, positive PR TRUMPS justice these days.


Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 19, 2018 at 12:48 pm

Posted by Yuri, a resident of another community

>> In Franco's case it seems that the district's perpetual quest for positive PR (as if what happens in the classrooms is not enough) led to the display. "Why not hitch our wagon to a celebrity alum's horse?" was the rule of thumb.

Lesson learned, I hope. Just because someone is a "celebrity" doesn't mean that they aren't a human being, just like the rest of us. Celebrity worship is an error.

>> Any way you slice it, it is still a case of guilty until proven innocent, but of course, positive PR TRUMPS justice these days.

Guilty of what? Has he been charged with a crime? Not that I know of. PAUSD didn't throw him in prison, either. It just removed an artifact of celebrity worship. It is up to PAUSD to control what is on the walls of Paly. Neither you, nor I, nor James Franco has a "right" to decorate the walls of Paly.


Posted by Yuri
a resident of another community
on Feb 21, 2018 at 6:38 am

"Guilty of what? Has he been charged with a crime? Not that I know of. PAUSD didn't throw him in prison, either. It just removed an artifact of celebrity worship. It is up to PAUSD to control what is on the walls of Paly. Neither you, nor I, nor James Franco has a "right" to decorate the walls of Paly".

Good point: Guilty of what?

Must be something in the minds of PAUSD administration, or there would not be a whitewash of his art. If there is no insinuation of a "crime", then why is his work being erased? If accusation is all that is needed, who's next? Why display any art at all when the standard for showing and removing is so arbitrary? Does education involve the discussion of controversial figures and issues along with the fostering of critical thinking, or should it be to simply erase anything that might offend? You know, Beatles records smashed or books burned. Can high school students make up their own minds, or should that be done for them? If the district cannot grapple with the nature of art, then don't dabble in art. Let parents take their sons and daughter's to museums, concerts, and movies. Then they can have the discussions that the district must think teachers are incapable of moderating.

Milk the PR to the fullest, then kick the artist to the curb when the time is right. Sounds like a great "teachable moment".


Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 21, 2018 at 9:24 am

Posted by Yuri, a resident of another community

>> Why display any art at all when the standard for showing and removing is so arbitrary?

There are lots of student murals on concrete walls around PAUSD schools. There is one that I attach a small amount of nostalgia to myself, for whatever reason. Is it "art"? Sure. Should it be there forever? Doubtful. How many shards from broken pots from past civilizations shall we save? Every single one? By their nature, these PAUSD murals won't be there forever.

Is there a "teachable moment" here somewhere? Yes. Celebrities are not superhuman. To act as if they are is an error.


Posted by Yuri
a resident of another community
on Feb 21, 2018 at 10:23 pm

Nobody is superhuman. All of us are flawed, so no art attributed to a human should ever be displayed in a community that seeks to cleanse itself of human frailty. Franco's art was not removed because it had become "broken pots". It was removed for purely political reasons which is fine if that is what the community wants. Just don't use some lame "shards of decaying work" excuse to cover your posterior.


Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 22, 2018 at 10:43 am

Posted by Yuri, a resident of another community

>> Nobody is superhuman. All of us are flawed, so no art attributed to a human should ever be displayed in a community that seeks to cleanse itself of human frailty.

You keep clinging to this strawman, but, it won't support the weight of your argument.

>> Franco's art was not removed because it had become "broken pots".

Perhaps it was a rather casually made pot, not worth saving even when new. A badly centered pot made by a celebrity. You continue to ignore the point. Being, that it wasn't great art to begin with. (Did Franco claim that? I doubt it.) It just happened to be made as part of a celebrity shindig. Next time, I hope they remember to paint on canvas instead of the walls.

>> It was removed for purely political reasons which is fine if that is what the community wants.

The school management took the opportunity to correct an error. It was a teachable moment: celebrities are-- celebrities.


Posted by Yuri
a resident of another community
on Feb 23, 2018 at 6:53 am

Maybe it is an argument worth clinging to. If you haven't noticed, ANON, you are doing a fair amount of clinging too. I suppose it was just coincidence that the district determined Mr. Franco's art to be "not worth saving" at the same time that allegations of sexual impropriety were made against him.

If his work were deemed a "masterpiece" by yourself and others, would it still be there today?


Posted by Palo Alto
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Feb 23, 2018 at 11:24 pm

I am old enough to remember the days of Joseph McCarthy. I never thought our society would go back to the days of witch hunting, when each side is hundred-percent sure of their righteousness and hundred-percent sure that the other side is evil. I thought as a society we grew out of that, and we were more respectful of diversity of opinions, beliefs, and ideologies. As I get closer to the sunset of my life, I realize that every generation, in some ways, repeats history and reinvents the wheel. I say to myself, "it is their world now; they will define it as they wish," but that doesn't ease the sadness I feel about the hostile and hateful polarization our society is caught in.


Posted by CrescentParkAnon.
a resident of Crescent Park
on Feb 23, 2018 at 11:32 pm

Let's not forget that the McCarthy era problems were due to people trying to
remove and repress Americans who never did anything but free-associate and
free speech. The so-called American communist Party of the McCarthy era
was less connected to the Russians that the goofballs in the White House of today.

The people in this so-called witch hunt actually have done something, or been
accused of doing something real, something negative and something that caused
harm to others.

Calling this a witch hunt is something that people ought be very careful about
and not push the metaphor too hard or take it too seriously. Let's also remember
in the land of the free, home of the brave and free speech and expression, if you
bothered someone by your speech the government would take your life even if
you were famous and loved.


Posted by CrescentParkAnon.
a resident of Crescent Park
on Feb 23, 2018 at 11:36 pm

LOL ... someone just reminded me of my high school days with the "Is it "art"? comment.

It was in the early 70's that this grafitti started showing up on walls at Paly. Anyone else
remember that any longer? Does anyone know who did that, what started it and what it
meant? Was it the same person or different people.

So 70's.


Posted by Yuri
a resident of another community
on Feb 28, 2018 at 6:34 am

To CPA,

Some of the best graffiti art done in Palo Alto could be found at the Greer skateboard park back in the 90's and early 2000's. I remember showing up for a early morning skate session only to find the artists asleep in the big bowl. They had been working all night and the results were glorious. Had to let the paint dry before I could make a few turns.


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