Armond White Kicked Out Of New York Film Critics Circle; Declares ‘Man Of Steel’ Better Than ‘Gravity’ In Annual List

Armond White Kicked Out Of New York Film Critics Circle; Declares 'Man Of Steel' Better Than 'Gravity' In Annual List

“It’s a smear campaign from people who don’t have the intellectual capacity to argue with me or debate me in terms of criticism,” Armond White declared to Slashflim last week, in response to the backlash he received following the New York Film Critics Circle awards ceremony in which he allegedly heckled Best Director winner Steve McQueen (after an introduction by Harry Belafonte), yelling “You’re an embarrassing doorman and garbage man” and “Fuck you. Kiss my ass.” (And while White continues to deny it was either his voice and/or that his words were just intended for his table, numerous accounts from other attendees widely dispute that argument.) So, what happened next?

Twitter exploded, a public apology was issued by the NYFCC while internally, the organization was in the midst of damage control as they tried to figure out how to proceed from a very embarrassing situation. The NYFCC is typically the first critics group in the country to issue their awards in early December, with studios and filmmakers often scrambling to finish their movies so they can be screened for the group in time. But White’s actions would certainly give pause to any studio or filmmaker about trying to accommodate the group in the future. Why should they rush for the NYFCC if their winners will only be open for catcalls when they come to receive the award? And what kind of supposedly prestigious group allows this kind of behaviour? Moreover, it’s just poor form and bad decorum. 

Indeed, this isn’t the first time reports of White using the NYFCC awards show as his own playground have surfaced. As Variety notes, Annette Bening and Michelle Williams were his targets in 2011 (when he was chairman of the group), while the following year, Robert De Niro and Viola Davis were heckled as well. To a small degree, the NYFCC is responsible for not calling out this behaviour the first time it surfaced, and arguably created at atmosphere where White felt he could continue in this way. But regardless, this year tipped the scales.

An emergency meeting was held today by the New York Film Critics Circle and the decision came down to expel Armond White from the group (NY Post critic Lou Lumenick was also suspended for a year after revealing vote totals on Twitter). Here’s part of what fellow member and EW critic Owen Gleiberman had to say about it:

This morning, the members of the New York Film Critics Circle, including me, voted to expel Armond White, the former critic of the now-defunct New York Press (and currently the editor and movie critic of City Arts), from the group. To me, it was a sad moment — pathetic, really, though Armond brought it on himself. A week ago, at the Circle’s annual awards dinner, White made a rude and bellicose spectacle of himself, as he did the year before, by heckling one of the winners — in this case, Steve McQueen, the director of ’12 Years a Slave’….

….Everyone at my table lurched around to see where the loud, jeering, disruptive comments were coming from. This unquestionably fit the definition of heckling. It was all meant to be heard by the room at large. When White later claimed that his comments were “sotto voce” (a musical term that literally means “soft voice”), he was either lying or lying to himself, or perhaps both….

….Does Armond White simply have his own idiosyncratic opinions? Or is he a contrarian, a bomb thrower who’s deliberately out to rile people up? I would say that both are true, but for most people the contrarian label sums him up, and you often can’t tell where the fearless free-thinker leaves off and the bullying, didactic iconoclast begins. And that’s the problem with Armond’s criticism. He writes like he’s the last honest man in America, but contrarianism, by definition, isn’t completely honest. It’s self-hype, designed to provoke a reaction. 

And getting a reaction is what White digs, as once again, he’s issued his annual Better-Than list in which he pits two (usually totally different) movies against each other and declares one better than the other. This year, sure to raise eyebrows, is his assessment that “Man Of Steel” is superior to “Gravity,” which is comparing apples and oranges, but here’s what he had to say: “Zack Snyder’s powerful visionary re-imagining of the spiritual potential in comix trounces Alfonso Cuaron’s second-rate Kubrick-DePalma rip-off.”

That’s probably the tamest assessment of the bunch, that finds White as usual tossing critically acclaimed films under the bus and praising less well-regarded material (case in point, his assertion that “Bad Grandpa” is better than “Nebraska“).

Anyway, Slashfilm has a pretty concise rundown of all the events surrounding this, as well as chat with White himself about the events of that night, and his opinion that this is all just a conspiracy against him. Listen below.

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Comments

Col

Russ D is a tard.

Taarrrrrdddd I don't care what you say shut up shut up you stupid
And Scott. And Aaron. Where did you guys come from?
Nobody cares
Shut up

rocketeer

Just another step in creating a homogeneous society in which anyone stepping outside of the groupthink is immediately identified and ostracized.

Kendall Kanoa Hawley

Owen Gleiberman's opinion of Armond White is exactly the one I've developed after reading White's work steadily through the past couple years. I am highly offended at the notion that it's tied to his race. Trolling transcends race and other people are allowed to say so. The repeated heckling is childish and unprofessional behavior and should be grounds to keep him out of those events. If you actually read his work, his opinions amount to crying that the sky is red and anyone who doesn't agree is simply too stupid to even address. There is no arguing with someone like that, and most people have the sense to not even try. Racism is most definitely alive and well in this country, but criticism of Armond White's rude and petty behavior are not an example of that.

SF

I'm all for solidarity, but frankly I'm shocked at the support for him here. White was rude, petty, envious towards McQueen.

He's an attention whore and got what he deserved. Good riddance.

scott

I mean, we DO still live in a world where many Americans bury their heads in the sand and pretend racism towards black people doesn't exist simply because we have an African American president.

Opinionated, educated black people still get the short end of the stick in this country. (as do most black people, come to think of it)

Steve McQueen was allowed to make 12 Years a Slave because it played into audience's white liberal guilt and allowed white people to pat themselves on the back for feeling bad about slavery.

scott

I suspect racism is part of this. You have to consider that most of the people who dislike Armond are white fan boys and mostly white film critics who buy wholeheartedly into the hype machine that wishes to dispose of anyone who doesn't buy into the "Hollywood hype machine."

When Armond says other critics can't match him on an intellectual level, the best that this article can come up with is pointing out that he liked Man of Steel more than Gravity, implying that disliking a critically acclaimed film in and of itself is wrong, despite the fact that, if you've read both of his reviews of these movies, he has very clear reasons for his opinions. And that is another problem with people's hatred of Armond White's reviews: they simply decry him for disliking popular movies without considering WHY he dislikes them. For some people, going against popular opinion is simply wrong in and of itself because it isn't well… popular. He takes his views from a somewhat academic theoretical standpoint, whereas many critics, including the ones who write for so-called "prestigious" publications like the NY Times or Time magazine, often succumb to the "roller-coaster ride of the year/thumbs up/thumbs down" infotainment style of criticism that only seems to exist in order to give studio PR people quick, thoughtless blurbs that they can slap on an ad on opening weekend.

Notice that people call him a "troll" yet they cannot make any actual arguments about his opinions or debate him about the artistic merits of the movies they decry him for disliking.

Louis Proyect

Anything is better than "Nebraska", except maybe "American Hustle", "A Wolf of Wall Street" and 'Llewyn Davis". Then again it may be a dead heat for crappy movie of the year.

Gerard Kennelly

man of steel IS a better film

love him or hate him,, the man is right

Aaron

"Annette Bening and Michelle Williams were his targets in 2011 (when he was chairman of the group), while the following year, Robert De Niro and Viola Davis were heckled as well."

Where is the evidence of this because I just did an extensive search and all I see is what he supposedly did recently. Stop spreading lies.

Washington

It is disguising how he's just dismissed as a "performance artist" or "crazy" or whatever just because his opinions aren't the norm.

Andrew

Interesting title. Made it seem like it was connected. Itching for clicks?

Tay-Tay the Bay-Bay

10/10 – Man of Steel was suprisingly more relatable of a movie than Gravity – my problem was the whole "trapped up in space" thing was just so far-fetched and out-of-this-world that I had less trouble getting on terms with an alien (who had lived as a human his whole life) discovering his limitless potential than I did about *SPOILERS* Sandra Bullock's existential sadness over losing her kid.

Gravity should be noted as an amazing technological achievement, but one of the most over-rated movies of last year. Shame, really expected something amazing from that one.

Dan

My favorite is:

Bullet to the Head > Mud.

… What is going on in that man's head??

Quatto

No proof he made these comments.

Armond White is the last warrior of actual film criticism.

ben

Finally!!! Why it took so long to announce this and why the NYFCC put up with this moron for so long is utterly bizarre. They make get headlines but it makes them look ridiculous to be associated with such a clown.

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