Was James Franco’s Instagram Scandal A Marketing Ploy?

Accidentally hitting on a 17-year-old girl has left James Franco in hot water. The Oscar-nominated actor has since apologized for his actions, saying that "social media is tricky."

But was this supposed scandal part of James Franco's promotion for his new feature film, Palo Alto? The film is based on a collection of short stories by Franco, and one of those stories revolves around a soccer coach taking advantage of a teenage girl. The coach is played by Franco, and Emma Roberts portrays the soccer player.

Ryan Kristobak and Lauren Duca, two associate editors for HuffPost Entertainment, recently debated whether James Franco actually used the scandal to promote his new film, or if he really did not know the girl with whom he was chatting was a minor. Both came to the agreement that this instance and Franco's new film are connected in some way.

"A coincidence just doesn't seem to fit," Kristobak said.

Duca said that mixing the events of one's personal life with the promotion of an upcoming film is "interesting."

"But [it] doesn't really excuse a 35-year-old man sexting a 17-year-old girl / generally behaving like a creep," she added.

James Franco has been known to be out of the ordinary, when it comes to promoting his films. Kristobak mentioned that Franco smoked two packs of cigarettes a day for his role as James Dean, and he rode around in a hot air balloon for the premiere of Oz: The Great and Powerful, and when he appeared on Jimmy Kimmel Live!.

"The dude hits those extremes, so this kind of a stunt doesn't seem too far out of the question," he added.

However, Kristobak added, if Franco is using this as part of the promotion for Palo Alto, he hopes the family of Lucy Cloyd knew about it before the media firestorm.

Duca joked that the world will soon find out it was Jimmy Kimmel who was texting James Franco this whole time.

"And I think the fact that it was interpreted as a real exchange is what led to all of the backlash and excessive media coverage," she added.

If James Franco set this whole thing up as a way to raise awareness of Palo Alto, he certainly tricked his good friend and This is the End costar, Seth Rogen. E! Online caught up with Rogen and asked if he knew about the validity of the Franco scandal.

"Í have no idea," Rogen said. "I'm afraid to ask."

Both James Franco and Seth Rogen have been partnering for parodies on the relationship of Kim Khardashian and Kanye West. The most recent, as reported by The Inquisitr, featured the two actors spoofing the celebrity couple's Vogue magazine cover.