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Armond White Speaks, Sort Of

Photo of Sam Adams By Sam Adams | Criticwire January 17, 2014 at 7:33PM

In a New York Times interview, the ousted former chairman of the New York Film Critics Circle blames his enemies.
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Armond
The New York Times

For those hoping the paper of record might at last settle any doubts about who said what at the New York Film Critics Circle awards dinner -- no such luck. In an interview with the New York Times' Cara Buckley, White blames unnamed "enemies" for his expulsion from the NYFCC, and calls the Circle an "incestuous clubhouse of friends... not people who made their bones as journalists or critics." But the closest he comes to any sort of admission is allowing that he did, in fact, yell "Fuck you," though he says it was aimed not at the stage but at those trying to shush him. This is similar to the line White took on SiriusXM earlier this week, when he said, "To shush me, I don't take well.  And when that person shushed me, I said, 'Fuck you.'" (That's not quite the order of events as it appears on the low-grade audio of the event.) It's disappointing, frankly, that the Times doesn't seem to have pressed White nearly as hard about what happened as did the Slashfilm podcast, whose David Chen nervously but firmly grilled White not only on what he said but what he heard. To Chen, he denied having heard any interruption at all, which doesn't square with his tacit admission that his guests, at least, were being disruptive, but make your own call.

In the days since Owen Gleiberman published the first account of White's tenure with the NYFCC, further pieces have appeared from new chairman Stephen Whitty, who admits he never contacted White directly for his version of events, although he did read the account White gave to the Hollywood Reporter, and Thelma Adams, who in the Times article calls the meeting that resulted in White's ouster "Stalinist," although she did not attend it.

Adams quotes White's anecdote of an exchange with an unnamed NYFCC member after the voting meeting that resulted in American Hustle winning best picture, while 12 Years a Slave's Steve McQueen won best director.

She said, "Oh, Armond, I feel like crying. We should have given best picture to 12 Years a Slave." Clearly, she didn't read my review. I thought, "Why is she saying this to me?" And she went on, "I feel like crying, slavery was horrible, and people don't know about it" ... I'm not making this up. This is white liberal hypocrisy.

Conveniently or not -- and that doesn't sound like any of the female NYFCC members I know -- White's anecdote fits the narrative that it was his views, and not his behavior, that got him kicked out. But the fact that he spent the week between the dinner and the vote accusing fellow Circle members of being "haters" and actively inventing evidence against him probably made his expulsion inevitable. In the Times article, David Edelstein and Harlan Jacobson reminisce about the days when having contentious arguments came with the territory. But the Circle drew a line, and White was on the wrong side of it.


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