Armond White vs. The Ghost Hipsters Part 17: Revenge of the Matt Zoller Seitz

by filmenthusiast2000
May 20, 2005 1:22 AM
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Realizing that his shamelessly rambling, unedited once-a-week diatribes were insufficient to combat the plague of hipster criticism--a pernicious influence which poses a grave, Godless threat to our contemporary aesthetic culture--Armond White underwent a state-of-the-art operation some years ago in which DNA was extracted from his colon and used to create a loyal-to-the-end sidekick, Matt Zoller Seitz. The operation was something less than a complete success--Seitz inherited his "father's" penchant for repetitive, bludgeoning invective, but with none of daddy's (admittedly rare) flashes of insight. Nevertheless, here was a valuable hipster-fighting tool, a Robin to White's Batman, Bucky to his Captain America, Short Round to his Indiana Jones. Reading their lumps of ham-handed vitriol side-by-side in the NY Press, one can almost picture them riding into battle, Armond revving the motorcycle, Seitz holding on for dear life in the sidecar. And though Mr.White may hog his share of the spotlight here, Reverseblog would like to take a moment to revel in the subtler pleasures of Matt Zoller Seitz who, this week in the Press, served up the following doozies in his review of George Lucas' latest steaming CGI loaf:

"[Lucas'] knack for balancing menace, mayhem, slapstick and sentiment within a single sequence rivals Hitchcock, Spielberg and Kurosawa."

Oh, dear. He's off and running.

"...they edge physically closer to rivers of lava symbolizing the unchecked passions that made Anakin a candidate for corruption; by duel's end, the magma will disfigure Anakin's body just as his dark feelings disfigured his goodness."

(wipes aside tears of cynical, hipster laughter)

"Yet Lucas compensates with images of uncanny beauty and sadness. Only hipster critics would resist the director's loving shout-outs to E.T ., Gone with the Wind ,The Seventh Seal and Apocalypse Now..."

Ah, and there they are, finally. Hipster critics, so-called--The Empire against which Armond and Matt's rag-tag band of renegades are the our only hope. Some readers may ask: "Who are these hipster critics? I want names!" In brief, their numbers include anyone and everyone who doesn't kowtow to A.W.'s arbitrary, wobbly party line, which involves a lot of willfully outrageous, paradoxical voguing. Blockbusters are subversive! Indie darlings are conservative! The critically acclaimed is a dead-end, the critically ignored glows with Renoir-esque humanity! And the star of every review, even Seitz's, is Armond White, the only one who gets it right... Is this the highest calling of criticism, trying to brand any reader with a divisive opinion as a pretentious ponce with a major cool complex whose tastes render them a pariah? Reading White or Seitz, the premier highbrow apologists for multiplex schlock, I always remember a debate I had in my 8th grade band class.
"Green Day are the best punk band ever," some jackass kid insisted.
"No, they're shit," I correctly replied.
"But 'Dookie' sold like three million copies... What, do you think you're smarter than everyone else?"

"When Obi-Wan and Anakin lay into each other, their whirling light sabers flutter in the air like lethal neon butterflies."

"Lethal neon butterflies?" Matt, just come the fuck on.

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  • Dennis Cozzalio | February 27, 2006 12:12 AMReply

    Michael is absolutely right. Just a perfunctory glance at any random sampling of Seitz's writing versus White's ought to be enough to distinguish the two for anyone reading without an agenda. Seitz is a writer with a solid grasp of film history, the function of technique, and how to write an argument for a film without making anyone who disagrees with him feel like an idiot. Hey, I didn't like REVENGE OF THE SITH much either, and I did like BATMAN BEGINS, but reading Seitz's reviews still gave me inisght into the films themselves and made me clarify my own reason for liking them. How can a reasonable reader feel threatened by writing that inspires such a response? There's a world of difference between that and Armond White's sour professorial pontificating. And the two of them don't agree nearly so often as this poorly conceived bit of poo-poo flinging suggests. So you were in eighth grade when Dookie came out... Yeah, I remember thinking I knew it all when I was 25 years old too. It's this kind of adolescent nonsense that turned me off of Reverse Shot to begin with. I only found this post while searching around for items on Seitz, and I'm glad to know that my initial decision to twist the spigot off on your (dare I say it) hipster silliness was spot-on correct.

  • Michael | July 5, 2005 2:38 AMReply

    I don't think you've read enough MZS to distinguish his style from White's. MZS writes reveiws with well formed arguments, while White's reveiws often seem to consist of nothing but non sequiters. Clearly MZS is not championing all Blockbusters. I loved Batman Begins, for example, and so did many others, but it's difficult not to agree with MZS on the fact that the film is compostionally prosaic.

    And hey, if you're gonna pick a band, pick one that truly is shit, like Creed or Nickleback or Limp Bizkit, rather than the simply innocuous Green Day.