Controversial film critic Armond White is denying widespread reports that he heckled “12 Years a Slave” director Steve McQueen at Monday’s New York Film Critics Circle Awards.
White, who often is provocative in his reviews, gave a scathing critique of Best Picture front-runner “12 Years a Slave,” writing that the film is the “ultimate proof that Hollywood’s respect for Black [sic] humanity is in absurd, patronizing, Oscar-winning decline.”
While White had harsh words for the film, he said those words did not extend to his alleged heckling of McQueen. According to reports, as McQueen took the stage to accept his award for “12 Years a Slave,” White shouted, “You’re an embarrassing doorman and garbage man. F--- you. Kiss my a--.”
“The comments that I supposedly made were never uttered by me or anyone within my earshot. I have been libeled by publications that recklessly quoted unnamed sources that made up what I said and to whom I was speaking. Someone on the podium talked about critics' "passion." Does "passion" only run one-way toward subservience?” White said exclusively to the Hollywood Reporter. “Did I make sotto voce comments to entertain my five guests? Sure, but nothing intended for others to hear and none correctly ‘reported.’ I don't even know what it means to call Steve McQueen a ‘garbage man’ or ‘doorman’ even though the racist implications are obvious. None of this makes sense which is what happens when online journalism reports a malicious lie.”
White is no stranger to controversy. The film critic, who writes for City Arts, is known for his contrarian film reviews (he hated Best Picture Oscar Winner “The King’s Speech” and praised the widely panned “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen,” for example). According to Rotten Tomatoes, White agrees with his fellow critics 52 percent of the time.
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Here are some reviews from White that went against the grain, according to Rotten Tomatoes:
Critically acclaimed films that White soured on:
Avatar (83 percent aggregate rating on Rotten Tomatoes)
"The corniest movie ever made about the white man's need to lose his identity and assuage racial, political, sexual and historical guilt."
Toy Story 3 (99 percent)
“’Toy Story 3’ is so besotted with brand names and product-placement that it stops being about the innocent pleasures of imagination -- the usefulness of toys -- and strictly celebrates consumerism."
Inception (86 percent)
"Like Grand Theft Auto's quasi-cinematic extension of noir and action-flick plots, Inception manipulates the digital audience's delectation for relentless subterfuge."
Up in the Air (90 percent)
"Only seriously deluded people could enjoy [director Ivan] Reitman's funny-sad whiplash. He's playing that same Hollywood game: keeping people ignorant of political economy."
Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire (91 percent)
"[Oprah] Winfrey, [Tyler] Perry and [director Lee] Daniels make an unholy triumvirate. They come together at some intersection of race exploitation and opportunism."
Poorly received movies that White recommends:
Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (20 percent aggregate rating on Rotten Tomatoes)
"’Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen’ is more proof [director Michael Bay] has a great eye for scale and a gift for visceral amazement."
Dance Flick (18 percent)
"It isn't highbrow -- or encumbered by scruples -- but the Wayanses retain their vulgar, adolescent derision of sex, class and race. In this bow down to Hollywood millennium, their irreverence is almost subversive."
Grown Ups (10 percent)
“Cheerful and surprisingly heartfelt.”
Jonah Hex (12 percent)
"It reexamines assumptions of good and evil-morality tale vs. trite entertainment-by confronting the hideous compromises people make with social conventions and their own desperation."
Transporter 3 (36 percent)
"Forget the Oscar bait, ‘Transporter 3’ is the only movie you need to see this season."