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Linkin Park Defeats New Goblin: Brad Delson replaces James Franco as UCLA Commencement Speaker

July 10, 2009

Are you happy, UCLA?  After withering criticism from a Daily Bruin student editorial and a Facebook group, James Franco withdrew as UCLA’s commencement speaker.  (Notice I didn’t say the “protests” caused Franco to withdraw, only that there was a correlational link.  Apparently he had prior obligations to unnamed awesomeness.)  The students voiced concern that Franco, while good-looking and admirable and 31 years old, didn’t “have the life experiences that come with age.”  What other UCLA alum did have the necessary life experience to replace Franco as keynote graduation speaker?  Kareem Abdul Jabbar?  Will Forte?  A slightly-older-than-Franco Kal Penn?

Brad Delson.  Yes, lead guitarist for hard-pop band Linkin Park.  Born at the end of tumultuous, politically rambunctious  1977, about 5 months before Franco, thus giving Delson the necessary gravitas to take over graduation duties.  The UCLA website explains that Delson has set up a bunch of charities and that his band has sold over 50 million copies of their albums worldwide.  Oh yeah?  Well James Franco has sold over 50 million copies of your face!  Honestly, no disrespect to Delson, and props to his social activism, but if I could have heard the guy who played Daniel Desario in one of the best TV shows ever versus lead guitarist for a pseudo-angsty de-caffeinated Korn-rock band, I would have chosen Jesus.  Or Gandhi.

Like a tasty roux, however, the plot thickened when someone leaked a tape of Franco’s rejected practice speech (NSFW).  It contained some rough language, yes, but was complex and visionary.  The part about jet packs?  Brilliant—and to my knowledge never before used in a graduation speech!  My commencement featured old people snoring, which sounded like a jet pack but lacked the super-heated exhaust (unless geriatric flatulence counts).  And Franco was unapologetic about his love for milk, a good working-class middle-American drink.  Maybe fiddling with the wax-coated cardboard opening of a boxed dairy product wouldn’t have been exotic enough for bunch of hipster elitist Californians popping open their Pom Wonderfuls.  Trauth?  You can’t handle the Trauth!

In the end, Franco’s speech would have been too “real” for the Bruins, who have since realized their missed opportunity and changed the university’s name to USC out of shame.  So think harder next time, UCLA.  When you reject the New Goblin, you get slightly-edgy pop-rock guitarists.   Either way, you get burned.

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