Odds are good that if you have Rotten Tomatoes as one of your bookmarks, you’re familiar with the work of Armond White, the longtime film critic who’s gained a certain amount of notoriety for his against-the-grain tendencies.
If you’re a Twitter user and a fan of inside jokes about movie critics, then you might already know about Fake Armond, an account run by freelance critic John Lichman (a Criticwire member and occasional Indiewire contributor). Fake Armond has a lot on his mind and usually speaks it loudly -- waxing poetic on New York film culture, other critics and even (believe it or not) contributors to this very blog. The now-defunct New York Press, an outlet that features White’s reviews, even featured a collection of Fake Armond’s signature #TRUTHBOMBS last summer.
White is currently employed by CityArts, a publication of Manhattan Media, which used to publish New York Press. On Tuesday, CityArts sent out a confusing message by including the Fake Armond handle in its automated tweets with links to his reviews. (The real Armond White is in fact a Twitter user, but has a different handle.) When we asked a representative from CityArts about the switch, they assured us that the mixup was inadvertent and that future posts on the account would include White's actual profile.
Lichman’s account is very upfront about its fictional nature: The word “fake” is mentioned in the account name and mini-bio. Fake Armond isn't fooling anyone -- nor is he trying to do that.
Whether you agree with the public opinion surrounding White’s work or enjoy his typically contrarian stances, it’s kind of incredible that something like the Fake Armond account can exist with more than a handful of followers who get the joke. Regardless of the reason for any critic's fame, the fact that some of their names are instantly recognizable -- that they can have personal brand -- points the way to how critics can stay visible in today's increasingly dense media age. That may be the best lesson that Armond White -- real and fake alike -- can teach us all.