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Seth Rogen Responds To Charlene Yi Saying He Enabled James Franco's Alleged Sexual Misconduct — Is It Enough?

Photo: Eugene Powers / Everett Collection / Shutterstock
Charlyne Yi, Seth Rogen and James Franco

Seth Rogen has spoken out about his relationship with his former friend and collaborator, James Franco.

Rogen says their "dynamic" has changed since Franco was accused of sexual misconduct, and he has no plans to work with his "Disaster Artist" co-star again.

Why is Seth Rogan suddenly defending himself and his friendship with James Franco?

In April, actress Charlyne Yi called out Franco for what she calls his “predatory” and “toxic” behavior on the set of “The Disaster Artist.”

She also accused Rogen of “enabling” his friend, demanding actors begin to take accountability for their perpetuation of sexual abuse in Hollywood.

When asked about Yi's comments in an interview with the Sunday Times this past weekend, Rogen said, “What I can say is that I despise abuse and harassment and I would never cover or conceal the actions of someone doing it, or knowingly put someone in a situation where they were around someone like that.”

The actor did look back on one moment apologetically.

“I do look back at a joke I made on 'Saturday Night Live' in 2014 and I very much regret making that joke. It was a terrible joke, honestly," Rogen said of an SNL hosting gig during which he joked that he had "pranked" Franco by pretending to be a teenage girl online. And I also look back to that interview in 2018 where I comment that I would keep working with James, and the truth is that I have not and I do not plan to right now."

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The pair, whose work together began in 1999 with NBC's short-lived "Freaks and Geeks," no longer have the same friendship as before, according to Rogen.

“I don’t know if I can define that right now during this interview," he said. "I can say it, um, you know, it has changed many things in our relationship and our dynamic.”

What are the allegations Charlyne Yi wants James Franco held accountable for?

Yi revealed that she had attempted to break her contract on the film after learning about the misconduct allegations being levied against Franco at the time.

Franco has been frequently accused of sexual abuse dating back to 2014 after a 17-year-old girl shared screenshots of the actor, aged 35 at the time, attempting to meet the child in a hotel room.

Franco later claimed he had acted like “a gentleman.”

In 2018, five women alleged Franco had sexually assaulted them while they were attending acting classes at his now-defunct Studio 4.

In a case that was settled out of court in February 2021, victims alleged that Franco used the classes to "create a pipeline of young women who were subjected to his personal and professional sexual exploitation in the name of education.”

The women claimed Franco would pressure students to perform sex scenes and remove plastic guards intended to cover their vaginas without their consent.

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And why is Yi demanding Seth Rogan also take accountability for enabling Franco?

In a series of Instagram posts, Yi discussed approaching figures in charge of the film because she "didn't feel safe working with a f****** sexual predator."

She says their response was to try bribing her to stay on the movie by offering her a bigger role in future films.

Yi also alleges that her fears were minimized by those on set who told her that “Franco being a predator was so last year and that he had changed.”

Yi’s statement reveals that those working closest to Franco had little care or respect for the actor’s victims as they continued to elevate and enable him even in the midst of these allegations.

She wrote on Instagram that, “Enablers are just as toxic as abusers,” and called out Rogen directly.

Rogen was a producer on “The Disaster Artist” so would have been aware of the attempt to bribe Yi, she claims.

Yi notes that Rogen has continued to work with Franco even as these accusations emerged, including collaborating on an “SNL” sketch that she says involved, “enabling Franco preying on children. Right after Franco was caught.”

Yi also called out the fake activism of an unnamed friend of Rogen’s who had asked her to participate in a sexual abuse awareness event he was organizing that was intended to teach men to hold other men accountable.

When she asked why he wasn’t holding Rogen responsible for enabling Franco, the man “ghosted” her.

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When it comes to sexual assault, complicity is interconnected.

The more we overlook, ignore, encourage or attempt to justify the actions of those committing these crimes, the more we all add to the problem.

Many believe Rogen has facilitated Franco’s behavior for years.

Rogen has been adjacent to Franco and his sexual misconduct for years, showing little empathy or concern for the actor’s victims.

In 2018, Rogen broke his silence on the #MeToo movement and the allegations mounting against Franco.

“I’m friends with these people and I’m a dude. All that combined makes me the last person who should be talking about this,” he said. “There are so many people with real things to contribute to the #MeToo discussion that anything I say is not going to add anything useful.”

What he failed to recognize is that being friends with those who commit these actions and being “a dude” is exactly why he should be talking about the movement.

Sexual abuse is not a women’s issue. It is perpetrated largely by men and enabled by those who choose not to call out their own friends.

He also added, at the time, that he would work with Franco again even in spite of the allegations against him.

Figures like Franco have been propped up by Hollywood friends who give them platforms for their careers even after abusing this power.

Consistently overlooking your friend’s predatory and abusive behavior only facilitates these actions further.

Like many men who listen to their peers engage in sexually abusive jokes or actions, silence makes Rogen complicit as he overlooked several opportunities to protect women from Franco’s behavior.

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Alice Kelly is a writer living in Brooklyn, New York. Catch her covering all things social justice, news, and entertainment. Keep up with her on Twitter for more.