The severe under-reaction that resulted from James Franco's attempt to pick up a 17-year-old girl on Instagram has made us all believe (and hope and pray) that it was just a hoax to promote his new movie. Considering the first trailer for Palo Alto debuted around that same awkward time, it's just safer to believe that whole thing was tied into the movie. The alternative is that we live in a world where a 36-year-old man can publicly proposition a minor and everyone will move on a week later. Oh, that James Franco! He's so silly with his many talents and shameless cradle-robbing. As if the trailer wasn't sketchy enough, the sneak peak clip of Palo Alto featuring Franco and Emma Roberts cranks the creep factor up to at least eleven.
Roberts might be legal, but that doesn't make the scene between her and Franco any less cringe-inducing in light of the scandal. One minute, Franco is a friendly tutor helping her with her history homework and smiling at her like she's the biggest piece of pie in the pan. The next minute, he's kissing her in a movement that makes you want to throw your hands over your eyes and scream, "Stranger danger!"
Any chance Franco had of generating any romantic chemistry with Roberts in the film was kind of blown out of the water by his maybe-scandal. As popular as Ezra Fitz and Aria Montgomery from Pretty Little Liars were with the fans at the height of their relationship, there's a reason you can't actually date your teacher in real life. In the first place, most teachers don't look like James Franco or Ian Harding. In the second place, any man their age who is attracted to children below the legal age of consent should not be teaching them. Because ew.
Even if Franco's scandal was a hoax, it still ruins the plotline of the movie. Of course, it's unlikely that Franco and Roberts' relationship is destined for anything good considering the nature of it and the kind of movie it's featured in (it's not set in Rosewood, after all). However, the selling point of relationships like that is that the audience needs to be able to understand why the minor and the teacher are attracted to each other, which is going to be a hard sell if we can't get through their scenes without needing to bleach our brains.
Watch the clip below.