Armond Gets The NYFCC Boot; Lumenick Suspended

Armond White, the contrarian City Arts critic who reportedly heckled 12 Years A Slave director Steve McQueen during last week’s New York Film Critics Circle award ceremony by calling him “an embarassing doorman” and “a garbageman,” was officially and permanently expelled from the NYFCC this morning by an executive committee, according to a N.Y. Times report posted a little after 2 pm today, and a post by Entertainment Weekly critic Owen Gleiberman.


City Arts critic Armond White

White brought this on himself, of course. Loud heckling is, of course, a vile, low-rent way to make a point. White didn’t just assault McQueen but the propriety and dignity of the NYFCCC. He deliberately asked for this. I recently wrote that if (I said “if“) alcohol was a factor, the only way White could save his skin would be to plead alcoholism and pledge to enter rehab. If White wasn’t drinking and he heckled McQueen sober, he had no excuse. He was a dead man as far as the NYFCC was concerned.

Then again White’s heckling was the source of at least two Golden Globe awards jokes last night. Co-host Amy Poehler addressed Matt Damon at one point and said, tongue obviously in cheek, “Sorry but you’re a just a garbageman” (or words to that effect). When he took the stage 20 or 30 minutes later, Damon said, “It’s me, the garbageman.”

An audio file is contained in this Film Society of Lincoln Center report. Go to 6:35 and judge for yourself.

The NYFCC committee also suspended New York Post film critic Lou Lumenick for a year — presumably between now and January 2015. Which means Lou doesn’t get to vote next December. What a lot of shit this decision was and is. What is the problem with reporting about how the voting went down? Everybody wants to know the details. It doesn’t hurt anyone to reveal this information. Reports of this nature have leaked out over the last three or four years. If you ask me the NYFCC committee acted like Soviet commissars when they suspended Lumenick. He was just delivering some good reporting.

“They were repeat offenders,” a source told a Times reporter. “Action had to be taken.”

The moves were confirmed in an online post by Entertainment Weekly’s Owen Gleiberman, a member of the group. Here’s an excerpt from his article:

“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, a movie that White, in his review, had dismissed as ‘torture porn.’ Make no mistake: He has every right to dislike 12 Years a Slave, a movie that he considers not a powerful historical docudrama but a sensationalist feel-bad fantasy that is subtly designed to make white people feel good about their own guilt.

“That’s a provocative view of an acclaimed film (Armond tosses out provocations like grenades and eats acclaimed films for breakfast). But last Monday night, during the awards ceremony, when McQueen got up to the podium to accept his award for Best Director, there were loud and disdainful comments coming from White’s table, and a number of witnesses who were within earshot quoted him as calling McQueen an ‘embarrassing doorman and garbageman,’ and saying, “Fuck you, kiss my ass!” White has claimed, to writers from The Hollywood Reporter and The New York Times, that he wasn’t heckling, that he and others at his table were just talking amongst themselves. (He has also denied that he said any of those words.)

“But I was sitting about 40 feet away from him, and though I couldn’t make out everything that was said, I can testify: 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.

“The reason that the whole incident, to me, was sad is that Armond White is a critic I have defended, and at times championed, for being an extraordinarily vital voice: not a soft one, to be sure, but a demanding and even important one. As a critic, he is passionate, perverse, furious, infuriating, insightful, obtuse, humane, ruthless, fearless, out of his gourd, and, at his best, outrageously exciting to read.

“A lot of people despise [White], because he can be a bully in print, and he wears the I-stand-alone perversity of his opinions far too proudly, like a military armband. Yet much of the dismissal of Armond is itself way too dismissive. He’s an embattled critic, but one who is often at war with the lockstep tendencies in our culture, and that’s a noble crusade.”

  • http://jessecrall.wordpress.com/ Jesse Crall

    Armond White’s a fucking clown on par with some 17-year-old suburban doofus trying to argue that The Beatles are overrated slop while dropping Nietzsche references into every discussion. You want to be a contrarian? Have an earnest, thoughtful response to a piece of art. That’s as contrarian as it gets these days.

    • Brad

      OWNAGE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Sumo-Pop

    Fucking good. And what Jesse Crall said.

  • dowhatyoudoyou

    That’s rich… a journalism club that suspends you for commiting actual acts of journalism.

    As for White, if he had the courage of his non-conformist convictions he wouldn’t have even been in the room.

    • childerolandusa

      Heckling is not an act of journalism.

      • dowhatyoudoyou

        I meant Lumenick.

        White is a kook.

        • childerolandusa

          Oh. Sorry.

  • bentrane

    dowhatyoudoyou, do you not get it? White wasn’t expelled for his writing, he was expelled for insulting honored guests at an awards dinner, in the most boorish way possible.

  • brenkilco

    White is a part genuine, part calculated whack job. While he clearly lusts after the status of a serious intellectual he mostly resembles a sophomore soc major able to parrot back the jargon without quite knowing what it all means. But I doubt any of this will bother him. Wouldn’t be surprised if he has his expulsion notice printed up on t shirts. What’s he lost? One meal a year less the NYFCC dues, if there are any.
    Jeff should send him some of his “I’m the only free man on this train” riffs. Sure he can use them.

  • the sandwich

    I think dowhatyoudo is referring to Lumenick in his “acts of journalism” reference you dumbshits.

  • Pertwillaby

    “It doesn’t hurt anyone to reveal this information. ” Seriously, Jeff? Then why for example does the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences never reveal how THEIR voting goes down?

    • http://www.hollywood-elsewhere.com/ Jeffrey Wells

      Are you kidding? I would LOVE to discover this kind of information. How close the votes were in this and that category, etc. PURE GOLD.

      • Addison Wilhite

        I think loving to know this information is different than saying it doesn’t hurt anyone to reveal the info. I’d love to know as well. I’m curious what the ramifications might be if a favored son like Spielberg was presumed to be a big contender some year but was later revealed to have come in last place in BP votes. Or if a presumed close call by oscar bloggers turns out to be completely off the mark when the final tallies are announced. Seems like that could have some interesting effects on the business side of things in Hollywood. Maybe not.

  • Jay Tierney

    If it walks like a douchebag, talks like a douchebag, writes like a douchebag, and does just about everything possible like a douchebag… I’m pretty sure it’s a douchebag. I think that word is tired and over-used, but it just suits him so well I couldn’t resist.

  • Mark

    The lack of decorum aside, White’s issues with the film, i.e., the promotion of white guilt and black victim-hood, warrant further discussion given the movie is about to win a BP Oscar.

    • Bobby Cooper

      His read on current studio fare promoting a false conversation about race is pretty edgy. Will we look back and realize the majority of these titles did nothing but maintain the status quo?

    • wordfury

      Oh spare me the further discussion and promotion of white guilt crap. This only comes up when a movie depicting the experiences of black people is made. NO ONE else’s historic experiences are questioned or have to prove that they deserve to be told. Why are white people so touchy whenever a movie comes out that doesn’t flatter them? Hundreds of movies come out EVERY year portraying white people as the image of beauty, wit, success and heroism stretching back a solid century. African-Americans, Asian-Americans, Hispanic-Americans DON’T have that in nearly those numbers but if we complain about a negative depiction we’re told to get over it and stop playing the race card. All we’ve got is a card. White people have the whole deck and control the entire race game in America. If you had really moved passed racism, movies like this wouldn’t faze you.

      • Mark

        White’s beliefs are his and are shared by many American blacks that have not embraced the movie whatsoever, and believe that it was not made for them but rather white audiences.

        • Mark

          It’s not proof of anything, but I think somewhat telling that Denzel hosted a recent screening for The Butler, while the Globes had to settle on Reese Witherspoon to introduce the 12 Years nomination.

          • DrewAtHitFix

            I’d be curious to have that conversation with Denzel. Or with anyone, frankly.

            I thought “The Butler” was the big phony of the year, and I thought “12 Years” was more of an experiential film, immersive, which is what I think McQueen tries to do in his films. He wants to capture something that’s very stark and real, but in a carefully-composed artful frame.

            If someone honestly thinks “The Butler” is the better of those two films, that’s a conversation worth having so I could try to understand why. I’m at a total loss to understand what anyone would fall for in “The Butler.”

          • wordfury

            You’re partly right, Mark. It’s not proof of anything. Here’s a question: why are you pitting two African-American themed movies against each other in some fabricated competition for acceptance and respect? Do you do that with Jewish themed movies or Irish themed movies or Italian themed movies? Why is there such an effort by people like you to undermine in some way anything related to African-Americans.

        • wordfury

          And you know this, how?

    • Aaron Paul’s Tuxedo

      Well, this has definitely become a conversation about White guilt.

  • Bobby Cooper

    Whether White contains hypocritical, egomaniacal multitudes and rants like Kinski on the train, he is correct that critics must remain apart from, rather than act as part of, the industry. Stumping and softening one’s view in exchange for access/ad dollars has had a corrosive effect.

  • Correcting Jeff

    Well, at least now we know who Dan Le Batard will be having dinner with the next time he’s in New York.

  • Dan Tayag

    White masturbated all over the Resident Evil and Ghost Rider films. Good riddance.

    • bill weber

      Thou shalt not like genre films and pan heavily promoted awards bait! (Obviously the heckling is out of bounds.)

      White was a good critic in the ’90s; he, Godfrey Cheshire and Matt Seitz were a mighty threesome.

      Wells sounds just as insane on the Lumenick suspension as AW ever has.

      • Dan Tayag

        Armond bukkake’d all over American Hustle so there goes your “pan heavily promoted awards bait!” theory. I don’t care if he hated 12 Years a Slave to but to write Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance as one of the best last year? Wow. Even Neveldine and Taylor hated their own movie.

        • bill weber

          Yeah, he likes D.O. Russell. I didn’t say every single dreadnought.

    • MisterQuigley

      How dare you…

    • Gabe_Toro

      Never mind what the guy said… let’s just boil him down to a fresh or a rotten.

      Your mindset is a cancer.

  • MisterQuigley

    What the hell did Lumineck do? What blog should I be reading to understand Wells’ post?

    • bill weber

      He tweeted the vote totals (against the rules) to enrich everyone’s life.

      • MisterQuigley

        Thank you. I know I could have googled it, but…

  • Addison Wilhite

    Curious…aren’t there sometimes very vocal reactions at Cannes during the awards ceremony? Is it just expected there? Or just different? If White had done this at Cannes how would this have played out?

  • Gabe_Toro

    This industry needs more heckling. More questioning, more righteous indignation. More anger, more passion. More refusal to kowtow to commercial interests, more awareness and seriousness of representation of women and minorities. More fiery, “misplaced” anger and call to arms against the refusal to question and interrogate filmmakers who are feted industry-wide and somehow become sacred.

    The real tragedy, ultimately, is that the industry only has ONE Armond White. Guess that’s part of what makes his writing so vital, and what leads him to overcompensate with a social faux pas that ultimately provided a couple of moments of discomfort for some rich people.

    • Ray Quick

      It’s just movies, dude.

    • childerolandusa

      What exactly is ‘righteous’ or needful about calling someone names while he is on stage? What was the question White was asking? What discussion about minority representation did his actions spark?

    • Mechanical Shark

      I like contrarian criticisms of the mainstream consensus as much as the next liberal with anarchist sympathies, but let’s not pretend what White did at the NYFCC was that at all. Also, White is only rarely a good writer, relying on the crutch of “better than”. And his approach is often weirdly conservative. I’d appreciate a humanist contrarian more.

    • joeybot

      Yeah, anger about movies! RAGE!

      White was just out to make himself heard above the din, he was a huckster. You only wish you could be a huckster that anyone gave a fuck about. But you’re not.

  • Muscle McGurk

    News to NYFCC: Your pompous windbag awards do not mean a damn thing. Armond is pretty much the only critic in that group of pedestrians that has anything interesting to say, and by kicking him out the group gone from a cunt hairs more credibility than the national board of review, to a couple notches below the MTV movie awards. Garbageman obviously was directed at the NYFCC members, not mcqueen.

    • hupto

      AND AGAIN: This is not about White’s writing. It’s about him acting like a drunken frat boy for at least the third year in a row at a classy industry affair. If he had any brains he would have been on his best behavior after having been scolded for it in the past, but clearly he wanted to push the boundaries–and they finally pushed back. Now HE’S garbage, man.

      • Brad

        “Now HE’S garbage, man.”