Ever willing to take a slight to its nuclear hissy fit conclusion, New York Press contrarian Armond White has issued a response to all those who took issue with his controversial stint hosting the New York Film Critics Circle Awards, and not surprisingly, it’s chock-full of even more castigation and martyrdom. To begin with, they started it: Dismissing Michelle Williams as “naïve” and Mark Ruffalo as “gullible” for following Darren Aronofosky’s “weak joke” with their own negative remarks, White characterizes their behavior at the ceremony as “inanity” that sparked the “old antagonisms” between critic and artist—antagonisms that he says Annette Bening even specifically addressed in her speech (during which she did not cry, despite what some may have reported).
Quoting that speech at length, White calls attention to Bening’s understanding of the performer’s and reviewer’s mutual “vulnerability” when it comes to criticism, and the symbiotic relationship between filmmakers and those whose job it is to “keep a close eye on us,” a sentiment that White felt put a “humanizing” touch on things in a “gracious, almost sexy-maternal way.” White’s abiding adoration for Bening is reinforced by an accompanying photo of the two of them together, surrounded by cartoon hearts. (No, really.)
Unfortunately, White says, that need for equality doesn’t fall in line with what he views as a tacit conspiracy between his fellow critics and “undistinguished bloggers” (Hey, that's us!), orchestrated as a way of “perpetuating the power advantage of exorbitantly paid Hollywoodians over their Fourth Estate handmaidens.” It’s the self-flagellating method of reviewers making themselves out to be inferior in deference to “the promotion of money and power” (“They welcome being pissed on by movie people”) that White says led to some of his fellow critics openly lying about at what exactly went on that night. According to White, all reports on his behavior were nothing more than “deliberate distortion… [that] has viciously misrepresented the truth” in order to “damage my reputation,” but more relevantly “intimidate readers and journalists to be subservient to celebrities.” This, lest the whole fragile status quo we’ve established here in the entertainment industry fall apart, and people stop caring about famous people enough to read about them, we suppose.
Anyway, White specifically singles out The Village Voice’s Jim Hoberman and Entertainment Weekly’s Lisa Schwarzbaum as the perpetrators of said “sick fantasies and vituperation”—something he says is tantamount to committing “public indecency… an offensive, unwanted display of private parts”—and claims they lied about his comments because they are “so consumed with envy and anger” at his tenure as the NYFCC chair. (The “yer just jealous!” defense—always an ace in the hole for those looking to make an argument about the importance of equality.) It actually gets nastier and more personal from there, with White describing Hoberman and Schwarzbaum as pouting children who "huddle together, sniggering and giggling in packs like the not-cool kids in junior high school,” as well as “middleclass cowards who resent less-empowered people not like themselves.” Then it’s on to White’s failsafe strategy: unsubstantiated accusations of racism, followed by yet more lacerating personal attacks:
Yes, racism motivates Schwarzbaum and Hoberman. They pretend to be hip and ladylike, but they're simply the type of class oppressors unique to the bourgeoisie. Blue-collar people would likely be straightforward and more honest, but these pseuds harbor unexamined ethnic prejudices, political partisanship, intellectual pretenses and jealousy.
Fact is, they're shills: uninterested in free expression or different points of view. Their lives are committed to promoting Hollywood and controlling culture and criticism. Their dishonesty is symptomatic of the media's corruption. For years now, Hoberman hasn't been able to stand the heat of the New York Press' competition. They cannot abide any challenge to their influence—a danger epitomized in the dubious consensus surrounding The Social Network, which is nothing more than a memorial to in-group ruthlessness. Tellingly, the film remains unsupported by public enthusiasm. Yet Hoberman is so incestuously positioned in media and suspiciously connected to the bohemian and art scenes that he's got New York film culture toadying and cowering before his most sinister whims.
Legions of Internet clones—what one secretive critic termed "Hobermice"— imitate his bigoted art and race preferences and follow his telepathic command. It's called hegemony. A real despot, Hoberman makes Internet hoards bend the truth. (The Gawker rumormonger is, in fact, married to Hoberman's Village Voice editor.)
As for Schwarzbaum, a less interesting intellect, her position at Entertainment Weekly makes her a minion of the status quo while her personal connections—she's buddies with pseudo-historian and former EW editor Mark Harris, who annually freeloads as Schwarzbaum's escort to the event, then disparages the NYFCC in print—confound basic social gentility. Schwarzbaum's the sort who comes to your party, brings her rude friends, eats your food, drinks your liquor, walks out in a huff without saying "Thank you," then complains in public that the host is ungracious.
Well, that tears it. Lisa Schwarzbaum’s certainly not getting an Evite to our next party. So yes, they’re both masters and toadies, bourgeois pseudo-intelligentsia who are nevertheless capable of insidiously spreading their own secret sociopolitical agendas, sometimes telepathically, and lest we forget, they’re just jealous of White and the New York Press. Oh, and their own egos have caused them to selfishly champion The Social Network, even though “the film remains unsupported by public enthusiasm,” which suggests its recent $200 million-plus worldwide box office take is just another example of their "sinister" influence. How far up does this thing go?!
Anyway, for what it’s worth, White’s sentiments about the purpose of criticism are reasonable and well-put, and his descriptions of both Bening’s speech and his much-chided introduction of The Social Network, if accurate, suggest that he was, in fact, misrepresented by rather glib retellings. Still, as so often happens in his movie reviews, any modicum of insight can’t help but be overshadowed by White’s loud, public axe-grinding over his perceived enemies, wild accusations of deeply embedded media corruption, and his many, many scattershot personal taunts. But hey, don’t take it from us; we’re merely following Jim Hoberman’s telepathic command. [via our fellow undistinguished blogging toadies at Vulture]