Armond White used to be unknown to most people, but soon he found himself in the spotlight when people took notice of his negative reviews of The Dark Knight, There Will Be Blood, and Wall-E. White was the only critic who continuously disliked the more popular films. Now the New York-based film and music critic Armond White is famously known for his provocative and idiosyncratic film criticism, which has often been described as contrarian.
Currently the lead film critic for the alternative weekly New York Press, White found himself ever more press when he panned the critically acclaimed films Toy Story 3 and Inception, while favoring some of the worst films of the year such as Jonah Hex. There are two things you can count on with the famous critic: he loves to go against the tide of popular opinion, and he’s not afraid to pick a fight. He was banned from a screening of the Ben Stiller vehicle Greenberg because he’d wished “retroactive abortion” on the film’s director, and last year he and Roger Ebert flooded internet chatrooms after White stated that Ebert destroyed film criticism and Ebert responded by calling him a troll.
White appeared on the /Film podcast to discuss film criticism, and when David Chen asked him what he thought of the Roger Ebert, White replied:
“I do think it is fair to say that Roger Ebert destroyed film criticism. Because of the wide and far reach of television, he became an example of what a film critic does for too many people. And what he did simply was not criticism. It was simply blather. And it was a kind of purposefully dishonest enthusiasm for product, not real criticism at all…I think he does NOT have the training. I think he simply had the position. I think he does NOT have the training. I’VE got the training. And frankly, I don’t care how that sounds, but the fact is, I’ve got the training. I’m a pedigreed film critic. I’ve studied it. I know it. And I know many other people who’ve studied it as well, studied it seriously. Ebert just simply happened to have the job. And he’s had the job for a long time. He does not have the foundation. He simply got the job. And if you’ve ever seen any of his shows, and ever watched his shows on at least a two-week basis, then you surely saw how he would review, let’s say, eight movies a week and every week liked probably six of them. And that is just simply inherently dishonest. That’s what’s called being a shill. And it’s a tragic thing that that became the example of what a film critic does for too many people. Often he wasn’t practicing criticism at all. Often he would point out gaffes or mistakes in continuity. That’s not criticism. That’s really a pea-brained kind of fan gibberish.”
Recently, White found even more national attention after launching into a public argument with director Darren Aronofsky (Black Swan) and supposedly made Annette Bening cry at the New York Critics Circle Awards. White writes in a New York Press article:
“As NYFCC Chairman, I felt Bening’s speech was like music (I told her so). It’s climax was the simple statement: “It’s not new.” Sadly, this symbiosis is something that most film critics and audiences don’t understand. Cowed by editors and publishers who have relinquished truth and intelligence to the promotion of power and money—resulting in the overweening tabloid nightmare that is today’s mainstream—some reviewers prefer the tired, poisonous myth that critics are hostile and inferior to filmmakers and performers. They forget that it’s up to critics, not film producers or publicists, to maintain critical authority and standards and not bend to the will of marketers. Bening’s speech asserted our interrelationship as well as our equality; it was the first such statement I’d ever heard in 24 years of attending NYFCC events.”
If that wasn’t enough, Armond White has now accused the New York Critics Society, of attempting to smear his reputation because of racism. White even appeared on Sirius XM’s Ron Bennington Interviews commenting on the events at the Award show and in addition found time to publically attack Village Voice film critic J. Hoberman and Entertainment Weekly critic Lisa Schwartzbaum. The full interview will air at 2 p.m. Sunday on Sirius Stars Too, XM 139, Sirius 108, but in the meantime you can view some of the highlights below.