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nighttimer
07-26-2010, 10:47 AM
Everyone's favorite contrarian/professional asshole Armond White is at it again. In a podcast on Slashfilm.com (http://www.slashfilm.com/2010/07/20/armond-white-i-do-think-it-is-fair-to-say-that-roger-ebert-destroyed-film-criticism/), White rips into Roger Ebert as the destroyer of film criticism:

“I do think it is fair to say that Roger Ebert destroyed film criticism. Because of the wide and far reach of television, he became an example of what a film critic does for too many people. And what he did simply was not criticism. It was simply blather. And it was a kind of purposefully dishonest enthusiasm for product, not real criticism at all…I think he does NOT have the training. I think he simply had the position. I think he does NOT have the training. I’VE got the training. And frankly, I don’t care how that sounds, but the fact is, I’ve got the training. I’m a pedigreed film critic. I’ve studied it. I know it. And I know many other people who’ve studied it as well, studied it seriously. Ebert just simply happened to have the job. And he’s had the job for a long time. He does not have the foundation. He simply got the job. And if you’ve ever seen any of his shows, and ever watched his shows on at least a two-week basis, then you surely saw how he would review, let’s say, eight movies a week and every week liked probably six of them. And that is just simply inherently dishonest. That’s what’s called being a shill. And it’s a tragic thing that that became the example of what a film critic does for too many people. Often he wasn’t practicing criticism at all. Often he would point out gaffes or mistakes in continuity. That’s not criticism. That’s really a pea-brained kind of fan gibberish.”


Mr. White is welcome to dog out Ebert if he believes the guy is a lousy critic, but I don't have a lot of respect for anyone who has to stand on somebody's back to make themselves look bigger by saying stuff like "...he does NOT have the training. I'VE got the training. "

Who else doesn't have the training? Mr. White is happy you asked and even happier to tell you.



We got film critics who are employed professionally by legitimate publications, and we have the world of the internet film writers. The internet has become so pervasive and overwhelming that the internet has stolen the impact and prestige and effect that traditional professional film criticism used to have. As a result of that I think that people who are now employed by the mainstream media are so intimidated by the internet that it seems, when you read mainstream published film critics, that they’ve simply given up being film critics, because they’re afraid of losing readership, because they’re afraid of losing their jobs, probably because publishers and editors simply want to get readers and appease readers, rather than inform and instruct readers. And I think that leads to a kind of anarchy where there are very few people writing about film who know what they’re talking about and who are rigorous about having standards in film. The anarchy, I think, comes from the the fact that in mainstream media and the internet, most people who are writing about films are simply writing from a fan’s perspective instead of a truly critical perspective. So what used to be termed “film critics” now is almost meaningless, because you just got a free-for-all of enthusiasms rather than criticism.

Chew on the irony that a guy whose reviews are primarily read on the Internet is slamming the Internet for ruining film criticism by opening up the field to more film critcism. Hypocrisy is the greatest luxury isn't it?

What White says to me is certainly none of the non-traditional newspaper critics meets White's standard as being worthy of critiquing movies. That goes for Harry Knowles, Spill.com, Devin Faraci of C.H.U.D, The A.V. Club, Film School Rejects and most any other Internet critic or movie site you'd care to name. Oh, and in case you want to give the dude the benefit of the doubt he makes it clear most of YOU clowns don't qualify either.


You guys might have perhaps come across something I wrote/said somewhere, where I said that I think no one should be allowed to make a movie before they’re 40, although there are obviously a whole lot of exceptions to that. We’d have no Citizen Kane if that were so. But I kind of feel that way, and I certainly feel that way about criticism. I think really, there should be no film critics - okay, let’s change the age - there should be no film critics younger than 30. Because before that you don’t know enough about art, you don’t know enough about life. And I repeat to you, I started out as a young person interested in writing about film, but really really really, I know more now than I knew then.


Got that, all you aspiring young film students? Go do something else for the next 20 years or so and don't come back until you're not so wet behind the ears and get off my lawn, you damn kids. As for you punks with your blogs and You Tube videos, you don't know nothin' about nothin' either, so you get off my lawn too!


It's not that I think anything Armond White has to say about anything is particularly important, vital to my knowledge or even very interesting. The man spends so much time enjoying the echo of his own voice that he begs you to not to take him seriously and I have no problem doing so. But it's just really really kind of funny to watch an angry, bitter man flail around impotently and sneer at the very people who could make him as popular as Roger Ebert ever was if he wasn't such a complete and total DICK.


:rant: Haters gonna hate. :rant:

leahzero
07-26-2010, 01:13 PM
I'm not into film criticism (literature is another matter), and I've never heard of this guy before, but aside from his personal attacks on Ebert (who is far more interesting as a blogger (http://blogs.suntimes.com/ebert/) and essayist than a film critic, IMO), White has a couple of good points.

Particularly when he says there should be no film critics under 30. And I'm under 30.

I think he's being a bit glib here. Not everyone under 30 is irredeemably callow. But his general point stands: the average American under 30 doesn't have the art and/or life experience to provide a critique of appreciative depth, rooted in deep cultural and human understanding.

Does this mean people under 30 should never critique art? No, of course not. Life and art experience varies with the individual, and the opinions of the callow and casual observer have their place.

I think White's point is that criticism should not be taken seriously unless a) it's apparent that the critic speaks from a position of considerable experience, and b) the critic demonstrates a willingness to express disapproval, disappointment, etc. with a work.

White's problem with Ebert is that he thinks the critic simply isn't critical enough--that Ebert hands out praise so liberally and enthusiastically that he comes across as a shill. White is entitled to this opinion. As Alan Moore famously said, "Who critiques the critics?" (I may be paraphrasing here.)

White's method of criticizing Ebert is unfair, however. Ebert is a gifted writer who is dying more gracefully and eloquently than most of us live.

My two cents.

Kitty27
07-26-2010, 02:21 PM
I shall sum this up in one word:

Bitchassedness.

childeroland
07-26-2010, 03:50 PM
Armond White also maintains that Transformers is an examination of American techno-consumerism, that Nolan's women are flatly written (while reserving no criticism for the women in that artiste Michael Bay's films), and that directors under 30 should also not be allowed to make films--before remembering Orson Welles's age when he made Citizen Kane. Don't forget that Inception and The Dark Knight are failures, yet Jonah Hex is superior to Toy Story 3--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"--which would be great if that was actually in the film.

I don't think he's a professional a*&^hole, but he operates under such different critical assumptions that for most of us there's simply no way to relate to him. I'm not sure that's such a bad thing, but as for criticism, it's merely useless. However, many of the critiques against White--notably the poor showing of the /film podcast guys--are equally useless.

smcc360
07-26-2010, 04:45 PM
Armond White being calculatedly contrarian and outrageous while accusing others of artistic dishonesty!? Stop the presses!

His schtick got tired years ago, and he's never troubled to whittle himself a new one. For a guy whose primary outlet is a paper they give away for free in New York City, he seems overly obsessed with pedigree.

I didn't realize I was suppossed to be looking for 'pedigree' in my film critics, anyway. All this time I've wasted looking for guys who enjoy and understand movies. And trust me: This guy, who wrote a glowing review of Supernova before trashing District 9, doesn't understand movies.

Ant attention is good attention, I guess.

Amadan
07-26-2010, 05:14 PM
I think people looking for critics whose opinions they agree with miss the point of criticism. Nobody should expect that a "good" critic is someone who usually likes and dislikes the same movies and books that you do. A good critic is someone who can articulate his or her reasons for liking or disliking a movie/book, in a way that makes you think "Hmm, I think I'd like to read that" or "Wow, that sounds like something I'm totally not interested in seeing," regardless of what the critic's personal reaction to it was.

I have appreciated many reviews that gave one star to books or movies I loved, or five stars to ones I hated.

I'm not even familiar with Armond White, but he sounds like he resents the lack of intellectual rigor in film reviews. Which might be a fair point, if not for the fact that he also seems to actually believe that there is a right and wrong opinion about whether or not a movie is good, and that only someone properly educated can deliver it to the uninformed masses, who should then choose to see a movie or not accordingly.

Jcomp
07-26-2010, 05:16 PM
Armond white is the movie critic equivalent of an internet troll. He says inflammatory things for attention (and it works). Nothing new here.

MattW
07-26-2010, 05:42 PM
Isn't "Professional Critic" synonomous with someone who hates everything good and enjoyable and loves everything that is bad and/or pretentious?

If I can paraphrase my favorite critic - he stinks!

Celia Cyanide
07-26-2010, 07:27 PM
Mr. White is welcome to dog out Ebert if he believes the guy is a lousy critic, but I don't have a lot of respect for anyone who has to stand on somebody's back to make themselves look bigger by saying stuff like "...he does NOT have the training. I'VE got the training. "

Oh, dude. I am so with you on that.

Roger Ebert does not have the training to explain why he liked a movie? Then what hope do the rest of us have, and why should we even bother talking about movies, since none of us are important enough for our opinions to matter. The irony here is that Ebert is often criticised for being "elitist."

The truth is, the reason he likes 6 out of every 8 movies he sees each week is because he looks at them for what they are. He does not review "Harold and Kumar Go To White Castle" the same way he reviews "Blue Velvet." That's not shilling. It's called understanding the film's intended audience.



Got that, all you aspiring young film students? Go do something else for the next 20 years or so and don't come back until you're not so wet behind the ears and get off my lawn, you damn kids. As for you punks with your blogs and You Tube videos, you don't know nothin' about nothin' either, so you get off my lawn too!


I wish I would have heard this a long time ago, before I bothered to spend all that time and money making my first movie. How was I to know it would be several more years before I would be able to do anything good? Of couse...if I hadn't made this movie, I probably wouldn't know anything about filmmaking by the time I'm forty...hmmm....

willietheshakes
07-26-2010, 07:29 PM
Isn't "Professional Critic" synonomous with someone who hates everything good and enjoyable and loves everything that is bad and/or pretentious?

Please tell me you forgot the "sarcasm" smilie...

benbradley
07-26-2010, 11:05 PM
I've heard of Roger Ebert, but I've never heard of this guy. I really don't care what "this guy" says (see, I already forgot his name), and since I'm not much of a movie water I have no strong feelings about Ebert either way on his movie reviews...

But I'll say this good thing about Roger Ebert, he certainly did his part to try to save the Internet from spam, chain mails, and other electronic trash (http://www.panix.com/%7Etbetz/boulder.shtml).

I really don't get cranked up about who anyone is or what they say on the Internet unless they start sending out unsolicited emails...

Don Allen
07-26-2010, 11:59 PM
I had the pleasure of meeting and chatting with Ebert briefly, (i know, you're happy for me) But I can tell you that Celia, got it 100% right. Ebert loves movies, even bad ones. Because unlike A.White, he starts with the premise that all movies were made to be the best they could be with what they had to work with. There has never been a producer, director, or investor, (contrary to the Mel Brooks movie) that set out to make a bad film.
Hence Ebert starts with that premise and works backwards which is why most people who follow Ebert's reviews get a better understanding of what the movie is shooting to accomplish.

I think all of us would agree that we've seen panned movies that were exceptional, and raved movies that suck. Which is why any movie critic is a phony, in so much that a good movie has only one definition of success, and it's called "Box Office Receipts". I don't give a shit how esthetically pleasing, or monumentally acted a movie critic claims a film to be, if it dies at the BO, it's a shitter....

Camilla Delvalle
07-27-2010, 03:39 AM
This Armond White seems to be in my taste.

I read a few of his reviews to check him out. He seems to rant a lot, which is fun.

Paul
07-27-2010, 04:19 AM
... unlike A.White, he starts with the premise that all movies were made to be the best they could be with what they had to work with. There has never been a producer, director, or investor, (contrary to the Mel Brooks movie) that set out to make a bad film.
Hence Ebert starts with that premise and works backwards which is why most people who follow Ebert's reviews get a better understanding of what the movie is shooting to accomplish.

Actually, that's quite a good point.

I think all of us would agree that we've seen panned movies that were exceptional, and raved movies that suck. Which is why any movie critic is a phony, in so much that a good movie has only one definition of success, and it's called "Box Office Receipts". I don't give a shit how esthetically pleasing, or monumentally acted a movie critic claims a film to be, if it dies at the BO, it's a shitter....

well, I doubt you really believe that Don.


I'm not into film criticism (literature is another matter), and I've never heard of this guy before, but aside from his personal attacks on Ebert (who is far more interesting as a blogger (http://blogs.suntimes.com/ebert/) and essayist than a film critic, IMO), White has a couple of good points.

Particularly when he says there should be no film critics under 30. And I'm under 30.

I think he's being a bit glib here. Not everyone under 30 is irredeemably callow. But his general point stands: the average American under 30 doesn't have the art and/or life experience to provide a critique of appreciative depth, rooted in deep cultural and human understanding.

Does this mean people under 30 should never critique art? No, of course not. Life and art experience varies with the individual, and the opinions of the callow and casual observer have their place.

I think White's point is that criticism should not be taken seriously unless a) it's apparent that the critic speaks from a position of considerable experience, and b) the critic demonstrates a willingness to express disapproval, disappointment, etc. with a work.

White's problem with Ebert is that he thinks the critic simply isn't critical enough--that Ebert hands out praise so liberally and enthusiastically that he comes across as a shill.

Yup.


White is entitled to this opinion. As Alan Moore famously said, "Who critiques the critics?" (I may be paraphrasing here.)

White's method of criticizing Ebert is unfair, however. Ebert is a gifted writer who is dying more gracefully and eloquently than most of us live.

My two cents.


I think people looking for critics whose opinions they agree with miss the point of criticism. Nobody should expect that a "good" critic is someone who usually likes and dislikes the same movies and books that you do.
Precisely what's he saying
A good critic is someone who can articulate his or her reasons for liking or disliking a movie/book,





I'm not even familiar with Armond White, but he sounds like he resents the lack of intellectual rigor in film reviews.
Which might be a fair point, if not for the fact that he also seems to actually believe that there is a right and wrong opinion about whether or not a movie is good, and that only someone properly educated can deliver it to the uninformed masses, who should then choose to see a movie or not accordingly.


Pretty tired, so can't answer this fully. In brief a critique is an analysis. A critic uses precise instruments to dissect an event /experience into definable sections, determining the health or otherwise of each section and finally the whole body.
A good critic explains the instruments he is using and why he uses those particular instruments in his dissection, during his examination. A well written review therefore allows the reader to see both the logic of the critic's procedure and the health of each dissected piece. A good review should resonate, should enlighten/ educate the reader. when the reader now looks at the dissected body he sees the bruises, the muscle tissue, the skeletal weakness or strengths, the skin texture, the use or lack of use of make-up, the dullness /sharpness of the fingernails, the feet callouses.

White's prob with Ebert is that Ebert points at the body lying on the table, walks around the table, prodding the body with his fingers whilst sucking on a can of coke - which is fine, if the readers aren't medical students and are mostly schoolkids, there to see if the body jerks when prodded.

The art of criticism and it is an art, is for those with medical instincts only.
so his dishing of Ebert is silly, albeit understandable.
his wider argument, that capable surgeons are putting their scalpels away to cater for the schoolkids - in a hospital which is now huge and wide open and which facilitates a less aware society is another thing. In that case he may have a point.

Shadow_Ferret
07-27-2010, 04:40 AM
Ebert got his start as a WRITER, then moved into film criticism.

After reading that long, meandering paragraph, I can tell you, Armond White is not a writer.

And personally, I'd rather listen to a critic who enjoys movies than one who believes most films are dismissible.

If, however, I was majoring in film, and wanted to listen to a lecturer dissect film and teach me what making films is all about, then I'd probably want Armond White as that teacher. But I don't.

Paul
07-27-2010, 04:54 AM
Ebert got his start as a WRITER, then moved into film criticism.

After reading that long, meandering paragraph, I can tell you, Armond White is not a writer.

And personally, I'd rather listen to a critic who enjoys movies than one who believes most films are dismissible.

If, however, I was majoring in film, and wanted to listen to a lecturer dissect film and teach me what making films is all about, then I'd probably want Armond White as that teacher. But I don't.

a more succinct way of putting it. :)

BenPanced
07-27-2010, 04:57 AM
Actually, I haven't seen anybody really dismiss the role of the film critic until I got online and noticed nobody can disagree with you. Ever. At all. Never. About anything.

Eddyz Aquila
07-27-2010, 04:59 AM
Roger Ebert is one of the most respected critics out there, so I do not understand the hate...

Paul
07-27-2010, 04:59 AM
Actually, I haven't seen anybody really dismiss the role of the film critic until I got online and noticed nobody can disagree with you. Ever. At all. Never. About anything.

???

Camilla Delvalle
07-27-2010, 05:00 AM
After reading that long, meandering paragraph, I can tell you, Armond White is not a writer.
I don't think Armond White wrote that. I think it is something he said in an interview in a podcast.

Zoombie
07-27-2010, 06:30 AM
I read some of White's reviews.

He's like Yhatzee. Except instead of humor and fast edits, he is just an asshole.

Celia Cyanide
07-27-2010, 08:51 AM
I had the pleasure of meeting and chatting with Ebert briefly, (i know, you're happy for me) But I can tell you that Celia, got it 100% right. Ebert loves movies, even bad ones. Because unlike A.White, he starts with the premise that all movies were made to be the best they could be with what they had to work with. There has never been a producer, director, or investor, (contrary to the Mel Brooks movie) that set out to make a bad film.
Hence Ebert starts with that premise and works backwards which is why most people who follow Ebert's reviews get a better understanding of what the movie is shooting to accomplish.

And that is EXACTLY what a good movie critic should do. A good movie critic should not tell you what you're supposed to like because s/he has "the training." Because all kinds of people watch movies, and many of them have no training and never want any. A good movie critic should look at a movie for what it is, and how well it accomplishes what it has set out to do.

Because people who really love movies do not want to watch Akira Kurosawa all the time. Sometimes, they want to watch Fight Club. Sometimes they want to watch Evil Dead. Sometimes, they want to watch Akira Kurosawa. But they appreciate all of these things for what they are.

Zoombie
07-27-2010, 09:52 AM
Heck, I'd rather watch Galaxy Quest than...I dunno...what do you call it...one of those fancy pants movies any day of the week.

SPMiller
07-27-2010, 10:06 PM
Critics are taught that there is objective truth and objective beauty, otherwise they'd just be glorified opinion-writers, and many come to believe that they alone have the tools to properly identify it. This gives them the power to, for example, declare certain works of fiction to be "classics" or "masterpieces".

dclary
07-27-2010, 10:29 PM
Roger Ebert is one of the most respected critics out there, so I do not understand the hate...

I hate Roger Ebert because he gave a thumbs up to "The Cook the Thief His Wife and Her Lover" and in that movie THEY EAT A DUDE.

dclary
07-27-2010, 10:30 PM
Heck, I'd rather watch Galaxy Quest than...I dunno...what do you call it...one of those fancy pants movies any day of the week.

"And then he exploded!"

*love* galaxy quest.

nighttimer
07-28-2010, 10:59 AM
I wrote a review of a new CD yesterday for a music site I contribute to. I did not like it very much. In fact, out of a five star rating system I gave it a "1."

Maybe I should retract my previous remark. I did not like the CD at all.

But I don't believe for one moment that my opinion is the only one that is right and anyone who disagrees with me has poo-poo/ka-ka for brains. I've always believed my opinion is no more important than anybody else. It's just published that's all.

I can respect that Armond White may have spent hour upon hours learning film criticism from Pauline Kael and Andrew Sarris and for him the idea that two slobs from Chicago named Roger Ebert and the late Gene Siskel could become America's most respected authorities on film based upon a "thumbs up or thumbs down" annoys the holy hell out of him.

But being a dick to a dying man is seriously uncool. There's just no way White can win that battle. And then White insults every other film critic in America when he is asked who some of his favorite critics are and he replies:

I’ll answer you this way: If there were a whole bunch of critics who I thought were doing a good job, then I would stop. *laughs* Because really, the reason why I do what I do is because I think there are things that need to be said about movies, about culture, about the world, that nobody’s saying. And that’s why I do what I do. I can only ask you to read around, read as widely as you can. Whoever you read, hold them to a standard, and don’t simply enjoy a critic because they say what you want to hear. But read as many people as you care to, but ask yourself: Are they REALLY talking about what’s on the screen? Do they know the history of this form? Do they have any political awareness? Do they have any spiritual, or moral, or religious awareness even?


What I take away from that is White believes if you like any other critic not named Armond White, you're fucked in the head. Your taste is fucked and you''re fucked too. When I write a review I don't think it's my job to tell the reader "things that need to be said" about movies, music, literature, culture, the world or what brand of toilet paper won't scratch your ass. I think I should tell someone, "This is good and you should buy it and here's WHY you should" or "This is bad and you should keep your money and here's WHY you should."

Anything else is preaching to the reader and if they wanted that they would go to their local clergy or someone else who specializes in that kind of thing. I don't.

Armond White doesn't need to be a film critic. He needs to start his own religion.

Shadow_Ferret
07-28-2010, 05:38 PM
Roger Ebert is one of the most respected critics out there, so I do not understand the hate...

Its simple. Roger Ebert is a household name. No one has ever heard of this Armond White guy. It's professional jealousy and rather childish, too boot.

YukonMike
07-29-2010, 07:03 AM
Roger Ebert has won the Pulitzer Prize for critical writing and has been reviewing movies for decades.

Just because he hasn't had "training" doesn't mean anything.

You can disagree with Ebert's opinions, but to say Ebert doesn't know what he is talking about is moronic.

Celia Cyanide
07-29-2010, 07:44 AM
I frequently disagree with Ebert, but I think that he does what every movie critic should strive to do.

There used to be a local critic who wrote for our paper. I could see a trailer for a movie and know what he would think of it by the genre, and the company who put it out. That's bad. Ebert is the antithesis of that.

mario_c
07-29-2010, 03:13 PM
Ebert stays classy, showing respect for Armond while disagreeing with him on pretty much everything. This is brilliant:
http://blogs.suntimes.com/ebert/2010/07/the_myth_of_a_perfect_film.html