You Say To-May-Toe

I recently listening to an old edition of the Slashfilm podcast where they interviewed Armond White. I sort of recognised that name, but couldn’t place it. No matter. Anyway, in the interview, White said a few things that I found interesting. He hasn’t got many kind words for Roger Ebert, complaining that he’s more like a professional fan than a genuine film critic and that he is single-handedly responsible for the death of film criticism.

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

White also complains that, since everyone has a blog now, they all think that makes them a legitimate criticI keep using qualifiers like ‘genuine’ and ’legitimate’ because White is convinced that he is the only “pedigreed film critic” around, that the internet promotes “free-for-all of enthusiasm rather than criticism”. As someone with a blog who tries to write critically, I think he’s a little harsh here. Maybe feeling threatened by the democratisation of opinion?

But then you stumble across something like “Lights, Camera, Jackson”, this faux-charming little bollocks of a stage-school drop-outI’m calling it now, ‘Lights, Camera, Jackson’ is the next James Harries, complete with future gender-reassignment surgery. Mark my words. and you think - hey, maybe Armond White has a point

This got me thinking a bit more about him, trying to remember where I’d heard his name before. Armond White… Armond White… Oh shit… Armond White!. He’s the fearlessly outspoken hilariously contrarian film critic who seems to be on a one-man mission to fuck with the metrics that make sites like Rottentomatoes useful. Out of 235 reviews, his is the first of three negative reviews that prevented Toy Story 3 from getting a perfect score, complaining that it wasn’t as good as Transformers 2.

In other words, he is to film criticism what Glen Beck or Joe Duffy are to political opinion.

Other amazing quotes from Armond White:

  • Talking about There Will be Blood, he said “Plainview is the most remarkable movie performance since Eddie Murphy’s Norbit trifecta”

  • In the Loop is “for smart arses, not smart enough to appreciate the cultural satire of Hot Fuzz

  • “Forget the Oscar bait, Transporter 3 is the only movie you need to see this season”

It’s a shame. Having read a few of his reviews, he does genuinely seem to be a smart, well-educated fellow. It’s just a shame that the rise of online film criticism has led him to chase page-views through controversial statements.