The Bane of Cinema: Awards and Armond White


The perpetually polemical Armond White spiced up the 79th annual New York Film Critics Circle awards last night when he heckled director Steve McQueen.

While McQueen was accepting his Best Director award for 12 Years a Slave, White yelled out from his table at the back, “You’re an embarrassing doorman and garbage man. Fuck you. Kiss my ass.”

Such vulgar eloquence should be expected from the CityArts editor, who just two years ago hosted the ceremony and took snide jabs at Annette Bening, Michelle Williams and Darren Aronofsky. The infamous writer is renowned for his seemingly calculated contrarian takes on movies; even the late Roger Ebert deemed him a “troll.”

Earlier in the year, White penned his evisceration of McQueen’s magnum opus, claiming, “12 Years a Slave belongs to the torture porn genre with Hostel, The Human Centipede, and the Saw franchise.” Against all odds, White managed to compare a film about a free family man unjustly forced into slavery with a movie whose centerpiece is a triumvirate of characters linked together, ass to mouth, in the form of a life-like centipede.

However, what’s more saddening than White spewing profanities at McQueen (who managed ignore the critic’s comments while graciously accepting his prize) is that today reputable outlets from around the web will be publishing stories similar to this one. They will condemn White for his incivility and lack of etiquette, and the movies – which is the primary reason critic groups are formed – will take a backseat to some nasty comments.

This seems to be the recurring storyline throughout all this awards hoopla. Just a few week ago AwardsDaily insinuated that the Utah Film Critic Association were racist for heralding Gravity over 12 Years a Slave as the Best Picture of 2013. That’s probably all you read when it came to what awards the Utah-based group gave out. You might not have noticed that they had some fairly nuanced selections for Best Original Screenplay (The World’s End), Best Supporting Actor (Bill Nighty for About Time) and Best Supporting Actress (Scarlett Johansson for Her).

Each awards season seems to come with its own set of controversial stories that have little do to with the movies themselves. And with that inconsequential controversy comes a larger issue: the possibility that the critics themselves are becoming more important than the movies they are praising.

As for White, Scott Renshaw of Salt Lake City Weekly put it best on Twitter when he wrote: “The New York Film Critics Circle needs to dismiss Armond White. Period. Enough is enough.”

For those interested, here’s what the New York Film Critics Circle awarded in 2013.

Source: Variety

  • James

    When I grow up, I want to be just like Armond White. He’s seriously bad ass. I would have heckled the cast and crew of “The English Patient” when it beat “Fargo” for best picture back in 1997.

  • Colin Biggs

    White loves himself more than he does movies. It’s a shame he doesn’t realize he is an embarrassment.

    On the plus side, his second outburst at a director has been drawing a lot of hits to my last post about him.

  • Steven Flores

    One of these days. There will be a guy like a CM Punk who will fight back with his words and put that motherfucker in his place. I hope to be that guy if I ever come across his path.

  • Bill Thompson

    I’ma fan of Armond White the film critic. He’s a tremendous writer who isn’t afraid of putting out an opinion that goes against the majority. I attribute most of the negative feelings towards him to people being unwilling to accept that Mr. White has a different opinion than most. Let him have his opinion, it’s not hurting anyone. He can love what he loves and hate what he hates, all that matters is he continues to present his opinions in a reasonable manner with well thought out reasons for why he has formed the opinion he has.

    I lost a lot of respect for Roger Ebert when he called Armond White a troll. For my money that was one of the low, if not the lowest, points in Mr. Ebert’s career. It’s endemic of a general problem in film criticism and cinephilia, the belief that everyone has to like the same stuff, and if they don’t they are a troll. The facts are that Armond White isn’t a troll, he’s simply someone who thinks differently. He’s consistent in his opinions and said opinions for a pretty solid world view as provided by Mr. White. Were he a troll he would be wishy washy and presenting contrary statements all the time. He doesn’t do that because whether people like it or not he’s consistent in his opinions and in what he likes and dislikes. If anyone was acting the roll of the troll it was Mr. Ebert for calling someone a troll just because they had the temerity to not like a movie that Mr. Ebert thought was great.

    I will say this much, I don’t like Armond White the person. His actions when it comes to his public outbursts are unwarranted. There’s no reason for him to act the way he does and all it serves is to make him out to be a jerk. That doesn’t change my respect for his critical work though. A person can be a scumbag in the way they carry themselves, and still produce great work, or art. That describes Armond White to a T.