Shame On The New York Film Critics Circle For Keeping Armond White Around

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Did you read the story about the irresponsible film "critic?"

Variety reported that during Monday evening’s New York Film Critics Circle awards presentation, White – who writes about film for CityArts – heckled 12 Years a Slave filmmaker Steve McQueen, who won the award for Best Director. McQueen had been brought to tears by an introduction from Harry Belafonte. Yet, from the back of the room (and reportedly inaudible to the people on stage), White – who didn’t like McQueen’s film – shouted:

"You’re an embarrassing doorman and garbage man. F—you. Kiss my ass."

Just Armond being Armond, right? As Variety notes, the cantankerous White hosted the 2011 NYFCC event and White "took verbal jabs at the winning performances from Annette Bening and Michelle Williams." The following year, he "jeered at Robert DeNiro and Viola Davis as they were speaking on-stage."

Movie experts, in addition to Scott Feinberg of The Hollywood Reporter, seemed to take offense, voicing their disgust for White and his behavior on Twitter. And these same sentiments crossed my mind numerous times as I scanned the reactions to White’s latest outburst. I so desperately wanted to ignore this story. Attention seekers act out of desperation, and the last thing I want is to give White more press for his antics. But the call to arms grew louder in the wake of White’s classless behavior, and the more I thought about it, the more I needed to ask, "How on earth is Armond White still in the New York Film Critics Circle?"

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Blaming White for these outbursts is futile. Would you yell at the puppy you invited into your home if he crapped on your carpet? Of course not, but you’d take precautions to make sure the puppy didn’t soil your rug (or spoil your awards show) again.

Instead, the New York Film Critics Circle should be asked why they continue to provide White with a platform for his vitriol. There’s a vast difference between having a contrarian opinion (as White often has) and behaving like a petulant child.

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Well said, "elmayimbe."

When will enough be enough with White? I'm not calling for anyone's job here. But how is someone as irresponsible as White allowed in a professional critics' organization? Better yet, how "professional" is an organization if they consider White one of its own?

The awards circus takes an annual beating, with too many groups falling over themselves to praise pre-determined "prestige" pictures for what feels like an eternal cycle of back slapping. Those of us who try and justify the existence of groups like NYFCC, LAFCA and countless others point to the films themselves, arguing that any exposure for a masterpiece like 12 Years a Slave is appreciated.

Behavior like White’s overshadows McQueen’s work, and that’s a disgrace the NYFCC shouldn’t take lightly. I wasn’t at the event. I didn’t hear White’s comments. But in the wake of the event, his gross behavior became the story instead of the accomplishments of the evening’s winners. And NYFCC is OK with this? They shouldn’t be. White should be removed from the group. To leave him on its roster means the NYFCC accepts his behavior, and I, personally, find that unacceptable.

Sean O'Connell
Managing Editor

Sean O’Connell is a journalist and CinemaBlend’s Managing Editor. Having been with the site since 2011, Sean interviewed myriad directors, actors and producers, and created ReelBlend, which he proudly cohosts with Jake Hamilton and Kevin McCarthy. And he's the author of RELEASE THE SNYDER CUT, the Spider-Man history book WITH GREAT POWER, and an upcoming book about Bruce Willis.