J. Hoberman Responds to Armond White
One would have to be as nutty as outgoing New York Film Critics Circle chairman and New York Press film critic Armond White to attempt to refute his lies, exaggerations, fantasies, smears and false assumptions point by point -- especially since he tends to project his own intentions onto his "enemies." It's kind of hilarious that White sees any attack on him as an attack on all film critics, especially since he's forever scolding his colleagues for their "disgraceful" behavior or characterizing them as "backward children" or worse. In my case, he assumes that I'm jealous of his influence, then spends an undue amount of time ranting about my secret network of former students or research assistants.
My posting one of White's reviews online in order to debunk the urban myth that said review (with its suggestion that Noah Baumbach's mother, former Voice film critic Georgia Brown, should have gotten a "retroactive abortion") was an urban myth was so embarrassing to him (he had only just told Page Six that he took "no responsibility" for the review), that he responded with a hysterical feature-length ad hominem attack that his newspaper saw fit to run as a cover story -- imagine, as I wrote at the time, if I had written something about him, rather than posting something he wrote! This week White devotes his New York Press column to attacking the various blog accounts of his embarrassing shenanigans at last week's NYFCC awards -- see Gawker, Entertainment Weekly, and New York's Vulture -- and, of course, holding me responsible. (Not that I wrote anything.)
It is true that, as disclosed in the Gawker post, the author is married to Village Voice film editor. But it's not true that I planted the story. Having already heard reports of White's antics, John Cook called me to get White's email address. We chatted briefly about the event -- I had no opinion regarding Annette Bening's alleged tears. (The chairman had consigned me, along with several other members of the NYFCC he regards as enemies, to the worst seats in the house.) What I did tell him was that White was a notably ungracious host in that he could not help but make his own opinion of the awards evident -- not only with words but gestures. (In a feat of breathtaking rudeness on the evening of the 2009 awards, he contrived that no one would accept Mo'nique's award for Best Supporting Actress -- it just sat there unclaimed.) So much for White's respect for his colleagues' opinions.
I further noted that as White lacks a sense of humor, his attempt to banter with Darren Aronofsky fell flat -- the guy is no Don Rickles. As of this week, he's also no longer NYFCC chairman -- so we'll be spared another such self-aggrandizing performance, at least for a few years. Incidentally, it's a measure of White's self-importance, solipsism and indifference to facts that he describes himself as the only African-American chairman of the NYFCC, something that I'm sure that will come as news to longtime NYFCC member and former chairman Dwight Brown.
UPDATE: Regarding the unique aspect of his chairmanship, White wrote "The Schwarzbaum and Hoberman duo are so consumed with envy and anger regarding my third tenure as the NYFCC Chairman (the only African American to ever do so) that they broke solidarity with the organization through their public hostility." I assumed that he was talking about the position; if he meant to say that he was the NYFCC's only three-time African-American chairman, I apologize for my misconstruction.