Reacting To Armond White’s Torturous Reaction To ’12 Years A Slave’…

Reacting To Armond White's Torturous Reaction To '12 Years A Slave'...

While I haven’t yet personally reviewed the film on this site (I want to see it a second time before doing so), if you read my interview with director Steve McQueen, as well as my September 25 piece on slave movies, titled Despite Success Of ’12 Years A Slave,’ Many Stories Set During The Period Still To Be Told, you’ll know that I was underwhelmed with 12 Years A Slave (I first saw it about a month ago). 

However, I certainly don’t despise it. I just feel that praise for it has been excessive. 

But if you think I’ve been “anti” 12 Years A Slave, you’re in for a “treat” in S&A film critic fave Armond White’s review of the film, published this afternoon.

Maybe it shouldn’t be a surprise that White didn’t care for the movie; after all, it won’t be the first time that he’s critically-obliterated a film that’s seemingly universally-loved. It’s humorously expected. And given the celebration that has been critical and audience reaction to 12 Years A Slave, a literary thrashing of the film by White was a near-certainty. 

Not to imply that he’s a contrarian just for the sake of it, by the way. Although some have argued in favor of that, I genuinely anticipate reading what White has to say each week, in part because he’s one of very few prominent black film critics, who commands attention and respect. The man knows his shit, to put it bluntly, and he knows that he knows his shit, and he’s not at all afraid to show how much shit he knows. And I’d argue that some simply don’t know what to do with, or how to handle his aggressive, adversarial nature. I appreciate the fact that he never walks away from a challenge, and I almost always learn something (especially about other films) from reading his film critiques – even though I don’t always agree with his opinions.

They are also, at times, just plain entertaining to read – whether that’s intentional or not. So I get an education some times, while being entertained in the process! The old one-two punch!

And he certainly doesn’t disappoint in his 12 Years A Slave review.

Here’s a sample of some of the more incendiary lines from the review, which, by the way, is titled “Dud of the Week; 12 Years A Slave,” prepping you for what’s to come:

– Depicting slavery as a horror show, McQueen has made the most unpleasant American movie since William Friedkin’s1973 The Exorcist. That’s right, 12 Years a Slave belongs to the torture porn genre with Hostel, The Human Centipede and the Saw franchise but it is being sold (and mistaken) as part of the recent spate of movies that pretend “a conversation about race.”

– This is not part of social or historical enlightenment – the too-knowing race-hustlers behind 12 Years a Slave, screenwriter John Ridley and historical advisor Henry Louis Gates, are not above profiting from the misfortunes of African-American history as part of their own career advancement.

– Because 12 Years of Slave is such a repugnant experience, a sensible viewer might be reasonably suspicious about many of the atrocities shown–or at least scoff at the one-sided masochism: Northup talks about survival but he has no spiritual resource or political drive–the means typically revealed when slave narratives are usually recounted.

– It proves the ahistorical ignorance of this era that 12 Years a Slave’s constant misery is excused as an acceptable version of the slave experience.

– These tortures might satisfy the resentment some Black people feel about slave stories (“It makes me angry”), further aggravating their sense of helplessness, grievance–and martyrdom. It’s the flipside of the aberrant warmth some Blacks claim in response to the superficial uplift of The Help and The Butler. And the perversion continues among those whites and non-Blacks who need a shock fest like 12 Years a Slave to rouse them from complacency with American racism and American history.

– The fact that McQueen’s harshness was trending among Festivalgoers (in Toronto, Telluride and New York) suggests that denial still obscures the history of slavery: Northup’s travail merely make it possible for some viewers to feel good about feeling bad (as wags complained about Spielberg’s Schindler’s List as an “official” Holocaust movie–which very few people went to see twice). McQueen’s fraudulence further accustoms moviegoers to violence and brutality.

– McQueen’s art-world background recalls Peter Greenaway’s high-mindedness; he’s incapable of Q.T.’s [Quentin Tarantino’s] stupid showmanship. (He may simply be blind to American ambivalence about the slave era and might do better focusing on the crimes of British imperialism.) Instead, every character here drags us into assorted sick melancholies…

– And Alfre Woodard as a self-aware Black plantation mistress rapidly sinks into unrescuable psychosis. Ironically, Woodard’s performance is weird comic relief–a neurotic tribute to Butterfly McQueen’s frivolous Hollywood inanity but from a no-fun perspective. By denying Woodard a second appearance, director McQueen proves his insensitivity. He avoids any hopefulness, preferring to emphasize scenes devoted to annihilating Nyong’o’s body and soul.

– Some of the most racist people I know are bowled over by this movie. They may have forgotten Roots, never seen Sankofa or Nightjohn, disliked Amistad, dismissed Beloved and even decried the violence in The Passion of the Christ, yet 12 Years a Slave lets them congratulate themselves for “being aghast at slavery.”

– The egregious inhumanity of 12 Years a Slave (featuring the most mawkish and meaningless fade-out in recent Hollywood history) only serves to perpetuate Hollywood’s disenfranchisement of Black people’s humanity.

– Steve McQueen’s post-racial art games and taste for cruelty play into cultural chaos. The story in 12 Years a Slave didn’t need to be filmed this way and I wish I never saw it.

What’s most curious to me about his reaction is that I actually didn’t find the film as harsh, repugnant and torturous as he did. In fact, as I’ve shared in previous posts, I believe that there are still even more brutal (physically and mentally) stories to be told about slavery. Although, I’ve also said that there’s a rich history here (of the Transatlantic Slave Trade), full of a myriad of tales of all kinds, mostly untapped, which could be fodder for countless films to last many lifetimes. And I certainly hope that 12 Years A Slave won’t be the final word on slavery movies in America, but instead the one that encourages a much closer look at those many momentous years in American (actually, global) history, where numerous untold tales are currently buried – tales of the inhumanity endured, for sure, but also of the triumphs, the loves, the hopes, dreams, traditions and mythologies rooted in the cultures from which our ancestors were removed, and everything else between the extremes, whether historical fact, or creative fiction.

I’m looking forward to the conversations that follow, once the film opens this weekend, and expands to other cities over successive weeks.

Read Armond White’s full review of 12 Years A Slave HERE.

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Comments

avago

I came across this site, when, after watching 30 minutes of 12 years a slave i googled " is 12 years a slave miserable all the way through ?".
Enough said.

avago

I came across this site, when, after watching 30 minutes of 12 years a slave i googled " is 12 years a slave miserable all the way through ?".
Enough said.

avago

I came across this site, when, after watching 30 minutes of 12 years a slave i googled " is 12 years a slave miserable all the way through ?".
Enough said.

avago

I came across this site, when, after watching 30 minutes of 12 years a slave i googled " is 12 years a slave miserable all the way through ?".
Enough said.

avago

I came across this site, when, after watching 30 minutes of 12 years a slave i googled " is 12 years a slave miserable all the way through ?".
Enough said.

avago

I came across this site, when, after watching 30 minutes of 12 years a slave i googled " is 12 years a slave miserable all the way through ?".
Enough said.

avago

I came across this site, when, after watching 30 minutes of 12 years a slave i googled " is 12 years a slave miserable all the way through ?".
Enough said.

avago

I came across this site, when, after watching 30 minutes of 12 years a slave i googled " is 12 years a slave miserable all the way through ".
Enough said

avago

I came across this site, when, after watching 30 minutes of 12 years a slave i googled " is 12 years a slave miserable all the way through ".
Enough said

avago

I came across this site, when, after watching 30 minutes of 12 years a slave i googled " is 12 years a slave miserable all the way through ".
Enough said

T Nails

Tambay,

I've commented before on your interview with Steve McQueen. As I'd mentioned I'd worked on "Shame" and appreciated his doing it his way in today's film industry. Then I saw the film. And you couldn't have said it better : "underwhelmed". Because the subject matter is grave and horrific doesn't mean I should care. I need to be invested and identify on some level with a character before you pull the leg from their chair for me to care. Their fates meant little to me. I think most of the white press is having a guilt fueled love fest for the movie. I confounds me to no end. The storytelling was not up to the story. Northrups' saga truly deserved a treatment better than one that made it feel like 12 Months a Slave.

As a contrarian to the sheeple critics of today, I look forward to White's take.

GonzoGates

I could not disagree more. before I begin may I ask a question that no one seems to be asking? If it is so distasteful and ugly and acceptable to watch a movie that shows a relatively valid portrayal of the horrors of life for many slaves, and it puts it into the genre of horror show and torture porn, why can't the same be said about the hundreds of movies and television shows that we have seen depicting the horrific evils of the holocaust – the number of dead emaciated bodies, stories about experiments on children, human skin used as lampshades, torture, burnings, etc. We all seen them a hundred times and are still seeing new depictions everyday. No one ever makes these comments about that. or says that it was so long ago that it's no longer relevant (like someone whose grand parent or great parent died in the Holocaust, my great grandfather (still living mother's grandfather, was born a slave) , or tells a Jewish person that they should just "get over it" when talking about the Holocaust or Hitler's atrocities. No one ever tells the Jewish person that complains about something that he sees as anti-semetic, that he is playing "the Jewish Card". We blacks should not accept that crap any more than Jewish people should. .

jack11111111134434343

So just like people who do not approve of Obama's policies, if a person does not like something it must be because they are racists? You liberals are pathetic. YOU are the racists. Clearly White is saying stop showing this brutal movies that hold people down. You just don't get it. He MUST be a racist, he did not like it. Hollyweird racists.

Wanna Be Critic

This is the same loser who praised "Nutty Professor". Need I say more? 12 Years a Slave is an extraordinary film and Armond White is an ordinary prick. No wonder they kicked him off Rotten Tomatoes.

Wanna Be Critic

This is the same loser who praised "Nutty Professor". Need I say more? 12 Years a Slave is an extraordinary film and Armond White is an ordinary prick. No wonder they kicked him off Rotten Tomatoes.

Wanna Be Critic

This is the same loser who praised "Nutty Professor". Need I say more? 12 Years a Slave is an extraordinary film and Armond White is an ordinary prick. No wonder they kicked him off Rotten Tomatoes.

Wanna Be Critic

This is the same loser who praised "Nutty Professor". Need I say more? 12 Years a Slave is an extraordinary film and Armond White is an ordinary prick. No wonder they kicked him off Rotten Tomatoes.

Wanna Be Critic

This is the same loser who praised "Nutty Professor". Need I say more? 12 Years a Slave is an extraordinary film and Armond White is an ordinary prick. No wonder they kicked him off Rotten Tomatoes.

Wanna Be Critic

This is the same loser who praised "Nutty Professor". Need I say more? 12 Years a Slave is an extraordinary film and Armond White is an ordinary prick. No wonder they kicked him off Rotten Tomatoes.

LenaAFoster

Armond gets it!! The others don't. I understand Armond's view and agree. My concern is for the folks stuck in the middle. For instance people with valid Title VII claims in our courts right now. Will the race peddling and race baiting film makers, after they are done making names for themselves off of slavery pay the back pay and make sure reinstatement occurs after half the white jury gets mad for being called racist trolls and the other pseudo intellectual jurors (now desensitized and having satisfied their duty of empathy) now uses lynchings as the standard for bad acts? "Its just a workplace problem not a lynching…."I agree this type of torture porn ala slavery style riles people up and desensitizes at the same time. And its the people with real issues that will end up suffering in the end.

regi

i don't find white's criticisms persuasive. he seems to be hankering for some kind of "true" or "realistic" movie, instead of a work of art by an artist. HIS idea of how history or black people or slavery SHOULD be portrayed to be true to HIS ideas about them. HE should make that movie.
i agree that in many ways "12 years" is a "horror film". to which i add "and…? so what? why not?" why not tell a story of slavery, from history as a "horror story"? i don't see why that's inappropriate. i didn't like "django" but not because of it's genre-bending (er, confusions), but because it was stupid and, to my eyes, incompetently made. NO ONE can seriously make those criticisms of "12 years", whatever else he may dislike about it.
also white's further criticism that, in the film, northrup "has no spiritual resource or political drive" to survive totally misses his profoundly deep desire to return to his family, something i was aware of in every frame of the movie. again, mr. white seems to not be looking at the movie in front of him.

CareyCarey

The big day has arrived, everyone can now see Steve McQueen's 12 Years A Slave.

The scratch lines have been drawn with Armond White arrogantly standing on one side with a chip on his shoulder. I am more than sure there will be those who will gladly oppose the gladiator with the sharp pen. When the dust settles, I doubt we'll see traitors crossing the battle line to join forces with the opposing camps. Those who have a predisposition to champion this film and those who dislike everything about the contrarian mudslinger, will hold their battlelines, humans generally do not change unless their backs are against the wall. And, it has been said that the four most difficult words for humans to say are, I was wrong, I love you, I don't know and I am sorry. So I doubt we will see any of those words spoken in this forum.

I have seen the movie and read the book (it's on-line and it's an easy read which can be read in a day) and I've run my mouth excessively on what I thought of the film.

"Yes the f*ck you have Carey"

But before the dust clears, let me explain my position one-more-time. :)

Having read the book and seen the film and read Armond's review, I have to agree with his position that McQueen's version of Solomon Northup's journey weighed a wee bit too heavy on shock and horror. The book (about 300 pages) did not have the tone of horror nor were there vivid descriptions of rape and mutilation. Mr. McQueen's depiction of those event were manifested in his own mind. Why did he chose to go there? Well, only his hairdresser knows for sure, but some folks need that type of shock and awe in their movie watching experience. And some folks believe it's a necessary evil in order to show the true horrors of slavery. To that shortsighted opinion, I have to borrow a phrase from a song written by Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff and recorded by the Philly soul musical group Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes: "If You Don't Know Me By Now"… you will never ever know me! In essence, no one will learn anything new by watching this film. So really, why did Steve McQueen chose to focus on the violent aspects of Northup's book?

Well, again, I don't know, I can alone assume that he knows what sells best. But I do know, in fairness to the director, he was true to the book in the sense that he followed the book to a tee, chapter after chapter. However, the devil's in the details that he chose to highlight, and conversely, those he chose to leave out. Listen, I am not a screenwriter (nor a seasoned writer, by any stretch of imagination) but again, having read the book, I can't help but believe this story, this movie could have been a greater event had the writer and director chosen different chapters, different scenes, different details to highlight.

Having said all the above and in my more spirited previous comments, I give the film a 7 1/2. It was entertaining. And, some of the actors may hear their names called during next year's awards season.

RJE

Depicting slavery as a horror show, McQueen has made the most unpleasant American movie since William Friedkin’s1973 The Exorcist. That’s right, 12 Years a Slave belongs to the torture porn genre with Hostel, The Human Centipede and the Saw franchise but it is being sold (and mistaken) as part of the recent spate of movies that pretend “a conversation about race.

Slavery wasn't a phucking horror show? Stealing people from another land, keeping them like property and forcing them to work for free isn't a horror show? I have yet to see 12 YEARS A SLAVE but Armond White is coming out the gates with unbelievable statements that lead me to believe he's a frustrated filmmaker…. "Critics are those who sit atop a hill and watch a war… then run down to kill all the survivors."

Rel

White has negatively reviewed Blue Caprice, Fruitvale Station, 12 Years A Slave, The Butler(even a blind squirrel finds a nut), and Newlyweeds all this year. Every review basically says he doesn't approve of the blacks are portrayed. His view blacks should never been seen suffering even in cases of films of real life blacks suffering. I think it's very limiting when we won't allow for blacks to be anything other model citizens to assure the white viewing audience that we aren't all savages.

Joe

Armond White can take his critique and stick it up his Southside!

Casey

Ironically, his description made me want to see the movie. On DVD, while having a drink or two on my sofa.

happybrowngirl

Here's a link to read Twelve Years a Slave: Narrative of Solomon Northup, a Citizen of New-York, Kidnapped in Washington City in 1841, and Rescued in 1853.

Trigger Warning! http://docsouth.unc.edu/fpn/northup/northup.html

turner

Is it just me or does this dude look like lucifer?

SF

"- Some of the most racist people I know are bowled over by this movie. They may have forgotten Roots, never seen Sankofa or Nightjohn, disliked Amistad, dismissed Beloved and even decried the violence in The Passion of the Christ, yet 12 Years a Slave lets them congratulate themselves for “being aghast at slavery.”

— only excerpt that gave me pause; the rest is grandiose hyperbole.

Having said that, I have not read the book but will do so. Once I have, I'll return here and comment if my perspective is changed…

Aaron

Thank you, Mr. White. I had doubts on even watching it in the first place since there was a wave of slave films hitting screens since D'jango came out. Just another one of those films to make others feel good about their good ole days.

AC

i_just_ don't_ like_ this_ dude. It's like his job to be on the extreme end of negative critique of black "mainstream" actors and film. It makes me NOT read his articles or articles about him.

Bforreal

It's strange and intriguing, this conversation. I see and somewhat agree with Armond's point, but I also agree with those who think Armond's review is ridiculous since, after all, slavery was in fact a brutal horror show. Good points all around on this message board. This is a good conversation, and I'm glad S&A posted about Armond's review.

NO BRAINER

"And the perversion continues among those whites and non-Blacks who need a shock fest like 12 Years a Slave to rouse them from complacency with American racism and American history." — White

Excellent point. Unfortunately, the perversion is necessary to make people care about other people who don't exactly look like themselves. The problem with the human race.

CareyCarey

Wait a minute, hold up, some of you have this all fu*ked up.

Those who have read the book knows Solomon Northup's journey was much deeper than a pandering horror story. That fact gives credence to Armond's words–>"It proves the ahistorical ignorance of this era that 12 Years a Slave's constant misery is excused as an acceptable version of the slave experience."

That's right, pure ignorance is fueling many of the comments berating White's opinion. Listen, what fool does not know slaves were brutalized. Slaves (in many cases, not all) were treated as one would treat a dog, I get that. Slaves were hung, raped and used as baby farms… I get that, I know that, only a fool would believe otherwise. And if you talk to a fool long enough, there will soon be two fools talking.

Hey, any ol' redneck or country bumpkin knows when his dog or cow or pig or horse isn't obeying commands, he has a few options. He can whip his chattel and shot it. He can even feed it slop, and sell it to another redneck. Hell, he can even kill it and eat it, it's all legal. He doesn't even have to feed them… if he doesn't want to. So why would anyone think a slave's life was any different? But least we forget, they say a dog can be man's best friend.

I am suggesting that Armond's criticism is valid, Solomon's 12 year journey (read the damn book) was more than a horror show of a white man fu*kin', hanging and whipping slaves. Yet, Steve McQueen decided to champion those heinous crimes – why? Oh wait, white folks (and some misguided blacks) needs to see that segment of slavery, right? Please, and what will those uninformed white folks (and some misguided blacks) do with these "new" revelations?

That reminds me, who was Solomon Northup? What was New York's atmosphere in the 1840's. Did Solomon encounter racism prior to his kidnapping? What is his wife's background? Did Solomon come from money, where did he get his education and how did he become a free man?

Or wait, the period of slavery in the United States was nothing but the story of brutal rapes, flesh ripping whippings and nightly hangings at Old McDonald's Farm. Yeah, that's a ridiculous suggestion.

Hey, make no mistake about, for many blacks in that period, life was a constant nightmare, but if one does not believe there were thousands of blacks who knew nothing more than being a slave, and thus, were comfortable in their surroundings, I would not only question their knowledge of American history, I would question their understanding humans in general.

Listen, just because one is owned by another person, that does not deplete said person of the capacity to experience love, happiness, joy, hope and understanding.

Armond White is correct, Steve McQueen, John Ridley and historical advisor Henry Louis Gates, are not above profiting from the misfortunes of African-American history as part of their own career advancement. And there are more than enough willing black johns (tricks) who are eager to follow the white man's lead ( read the audience of mostly liberal elitist and white folks) as they sing "Oh Happy Day, this is a great horror film. We get to see nigg*r brutalized, whipped and chained… and other blacks folks are loving it".

Hey y'all, wake up and stop being willing pawns.

Erik W.

If slavery wasn't a "horror show" what the hell was it? This is about his ego as the angry critic. Nothing to do with the film. His act is getting tired.

SAX

Wait until someone depicts blacks in the twentieth century, decadent warts and all. Perhaps they'll film in the shithole known as Detroit? I think were ready.

Carl

How much you wanna bet this non-talented, bald headed attention whore posing as a film critic has a shrine of his movie reviews printed out in his house somewhere?

God knows you will not find a director's reel of films he's made. Bitch ass probably couldn't shoot a good Rogaine commercial which he should be the spokesman for. lol

Michael

I remain in admiring awe of the fact that this part of the indieWIRE network refuses to bow down to the dictates of copyeditors, or, it seems, editors of any stripe.

M

"It proves the ahistorical ignorance of this era that 12 Years a Slave’s constant misery is excused as an acceptable version of the slave experience."

There's the real irony, an educated black man downplaying the atrocities of the slave era. He probably thinks Uncle Tom's cabin is the definitive slave account, but Massa!

BluTopaz

"Depicting slavery as a horror show'

That line puzzles me. Never mind the film, slavery was the mother of horror shows and nightmares for 4 centuries. What does White think it was, and how should it be depicted to please him?

I will probably never see this movie (I can't watch anyone of any race brutalized so horribly their skin flays off). But in a strange way I am glad these images are put out there for anyone who can bear them, to accurately show this history. I just don't know what White was expecting.

Nicole M.

Wait, did he actually ever read the autobiographical (aka REAL LIFE) book on which the movie is based??? Of course I've not yet seen the film, but the torture and punishment described in his review is exactly what I expect to see based on the book. And to sugar coat or whitewash it, as has been done to the rest of our history throughout time, would be a slap in the face and a true disservice to Mr. Northrop, and the countless others who shared his same fate. If that were the case, then I would rather them NOT tell the story at all.

So I too am even more excited to see this film based on what I read above. And as far as I'm concerned, I think it's a real shame that Mr. White is basically criticizing this movie for being too real. Opinions such as his only serve to justify those who will dismiss the movie for being too brutal and unrealistic in the regards to the brutality that ACTUALLY OCCURRED during slavery. Have he ever even been to a black history museum or better yet somewhere like the blacks in wax museum in Baltimore? If so he would know that not every movie, especially those based on real life, will have a happy ending. And he would also understand that, as strong and resilient as black people have proven to be over time, living and witnessing brutality on a daily basis, and being treated no better or differently than any other 'animal' on the farm, with no end in sight but death itself, could potentially break the spirit of any man.

It's an insult to our ancestors, and their experiences to dismiss the TRUTH of how they lived and what they endured as a 'shock fest'. This stuff really happened to people! People who eventually went on to give birth to him. And no, so what this is not EVERY slave experience. But sounds like he only wants to see those with the happy ending that gives home 'hope'. Well look around you, although we're certainly far from perfect as a people, for us to still be here, living, learning and growing after the hell our people endured – then there's your hope Mr. White. And again I have but one more thing to suggest:

READ THE BOOK!!

DJ

The implication that "12 Years…" is universally loved or "celebrated" by audiences is fallacious.
Sorry, but the NYFF, Toronto and Telluride cinephiles isn't an accurate cross section of "audience." And maybe that's what undergirds White's criticisms here (and elsewhere when it comes to politically-charged, race and socially conscious cinema). If you've been to any of these fests where such films are framed and consumed, there's a great irony — the audiences are mostly liberal elitist and white, and relish in the exercise of vicarious, self serving pity; when the curtains rise, it's the sentiment of "thank god I can go back to my life".

So while White's reviews might seem contrarian, arbitrary in taste, and yes, pedantic at times, they do have a consistent thread: they critique the irony, cynicism, hypocrisy and lack of moral and humane vision that characterizes lots of what's "celebrated" on the fest circuit today.
He's championed Charles Burnett and that's enough for me.

David S.

I would LOVE to see Armond White interview McQueen like Tambay did. Oh my God that would be explosive.

DJ KAM

So Armond was too much of a bitch to handle the violence that we all know happened during slavery. I hope he didn't cry to hard and the panties didn't crawl to far up hi no-talent having ass.

Carl

Can someone please tell me what film this wanna be blad headed prick actually LIKES? I'll wait…

He trashes films for attention, like most critics. Frustrated wanna be filmmakers who's only outlet for the lack of talent is a keyboard and the jealousy floating in their empty, swollen heads.

Stephen

Is there a "black movie" out there that has not come under such harsh scrutiny? Does it even exist? It seems to me, without fail, that every movie that comes out with black themes, it is taken through the ringer for not being black enough or true enough to the black experience. Tell me, what does that movie look like? I am starting to believe that no movie concerning black themes and issues will ever be free from scrutiny from the black media and other naysayers. I truly want to know what that movie looks like or will look like.
I mean, art is subjective, and no creation is ever going to be universally accepted by all, and that's what makes it art. Hell, I am sure even Shakespeare had his critics in his day. Doesn't it seem excessive and unnecessary that black themed movies only are required to carry some untouchable height of "black purity?" Give me a break! With the bar being raised so high on black movies I doubt that we will ever see a movie that purists feel is a true representation of who we are. I enjoyed "The Butler," Roots, and other black themed movies. Am I missing something? Please, help me out here. I want to understand what type of movie constitutes a good black movie?

Troy

He makes me want to see this movie. He made me feel something. The average movie doesn't. Some need happy endings, robust story arcs, action, passion, to learn something visceral about the human condition, and others like to be scared. I want to watch this movie to see Northup's lack of drive as it is something that escapes my understanding in my friends and family. Why do you want to be here. If you fear death your world is smaller than you could imagine. His reviews remind me of Claude Mckays poetry.

pheadx

That's actually some legitimate criticism. This is what a film critic is supposed to do, even if you can disagree with him. Having only seen the trailer, I was indeed a bit puzzled by the non-stop praise for a film that seems to present slavery as a 12 year suffer show. I'm pretty sure I will really like the film, judging by McQueen's previous films, but the slavery in the film looks more like how Hollywood would define it, as an out-of-life torture experience. I feel that 12 YEARS will be a really important film because it will draw many people to the subject that wouldn't have dealt with it, otherwise. But from a film criticism point of view, we still need a film that portrays slavery as a human experience (not just a matyr experience) on the one side, and as the industry and "holocaust" it was in the overall historical perspective (and in some parts of the world, still is). Maybe a film with reduced sensibilities similar to SHAME and HUNGER would have dealt better with the subject?McQueen now has a shot to be a big Hollywood director, so maybe he went for a more commercial, and therefore reactionary tone. Suffering is not the only way to portrait such a complex issue.

Tahir

Armond White is a hater and an intellectual waste of space.

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