Writer Armond White is infamous for pushing people’s buttons.
Sometimes labeled as the “America’s most hated film critic”, he has gone on the record bashing some of Hollywood’s most acclaimed films (he consistently trashes the work of celebrated directors like Wes Anderson, Spike Jonze, David O. Russell, Alexander Payne, Paul Thomas Anderson, and Spike Lee, just to name a few) and has not shied away from personally attacking filmmakers he detests.
This has occasionally led to ugly public spectacles, such as in 2011, when Black Swan director Darren Aronofsky called White out at the New York Film Critic’s Circle Awards, which the polarizing writer was hosting.
“I thought I was giving White the compassion award because if you don’t have something, you should get it. Seriously, keep it up because you give all of us another reason not to read The New York Press,” said Aronofsky about he publication White was a contributor to at the time.
“That’s all right. Darren reads me. That’s all I want. And because he reads me, he knows the truth,” White responded.
This exchange was relatively tame compared to White’s outburst at this year’s awards, where he heckled 12 Years a Slave director Steve McQueen from the crowd.
White has made no secret of his hatred from the widely hailed slavery epic, which he ridiculed as “torture porn” in a review for CityArts.
While McQueen was tearfully accepting a best director award presented by the legendary Harry Belafonte, White was heard to call him “an embarrassing doorman and garbage man.” He also screamed, “F**k you. Kiss my a**.”
According to Variety, McQueen did not acknowledge, and perhaps did not hear, White’s outburst.
Since the awards show, NYFCC chairman Joshua Rothkopf has apologized to McQueen for “the crass bit of heckling.” Rothkopf said he was “mortified” that it came from one of the group’s members and implied that White may be disciplined.
White has also reacted to the reports of his behavior. “The barrage of lies, misreporting, unsubstantiated sources and made-up quotes is dismaying,” White said. “The awards themselves, and the highlights of the evening, such as James Toback and Peter Bogdanovich’s praise for best-picture winner American Hustle, have been forgotten in the melee.”