How To Armond Right

... The power of cinema is an uncontainable thing and it’s truly remarkable, in its capacity for emotional evolution. When I was first watching the world of cinema, there was a film that stunned the world, with all its aspects and art form. They did a lot, at that time. The film was done by D.W. Griffith, and it was called The Birth of a Nation, and it talked about America’s story, its identity, and its place in the universe of nations. And that film depicted the struggles of this country with passion and power and great human abuse. Its depiction of black people was carried with great cruelty. And the power of cinema styled this nation, after the release of the film, to riot and to pillage and to burn and to murder black citizens. The power of film.
At the age of five, in 1932, I had the great thrill of going to the cinema. It was a great relief for those of us who were born into poverty, a way we tried to get away from the misery. One of the films they made for us, the first film I saw, was Tarzan of the Apes. [Ed note: The movie is called Tarzan the Ape Man.] In that film, [we] looked to see the human beauty of Johnny Weissmuller swinging through the trees, jump off, and there spring to life, while the rest were depicted as grossly subhuman, who were ignorant, who did not know their way around the elements, living in forests with wild animals. Not until Johnny Weissmuller stepped into a scene did we know who we were, according to cinema.
Throughout the rest of my life ... on my birth certificate, it said “colored.” Not long after that, I became “Negro.” Not too long after that, I became “black.” Most recently, I am now “African-American.” I spent the better part of almost a century just in search of, seeking, “Who am I? What am I? What am I to be called? What do I say? Who do I appeal to? Who should I be cautious of?” In this life, when we walk into the world of cinema, we use the instrument that is our ability to try to give another impression of who and what we were as a people, and what we meant to this great nation called America. I’m glad that Sidney Poitier should step into this space right after the Second World War, and new images of what we are as people, certainly as men.
A lot’s gone on with Hollywood. A lot could be said about it. But at this moment, I think what is redeeming, what is transformative, is the fact that a genius, an artist, is of African descent, although he’s not from America, he is of America, and he is of that America which is part of his own heritage; [he] made a film called 12 Years a Slave, which is stunning in the most emperial way. So it’s a stage that enters a charge made by The Birth of a Nation, that we were not a people, we were evil, rapists, abusers, absent of intelligence, absent of soul, heart, inside. In this film, 12 Years a Slave, Steve steps in and shows us, in an overt way, that the depth and power of cinema is there for now the world to see us in another way. I was five when I saw Tarzan of the Apes, and the one thing I never wanted to be, after seeing that film, was an African. I didn’t want to be associated with anybody that could have been depicted as so useless and meaningless. And yet, life in New York led me to other horizons, other experiences. And now I can say, in my 87th year of life, that I am joyed, I am overjoyed, that I should have lived long enough to see Steve McQueen step into this space and for the first time in the history of cinema, give us a work, a film, that touches the depths of who we are as a people, touches the depths of what America is as a country, and gives us a sense of understanding more deeply what our past has been, how glorious our future will be, and could be.
I think that the Circle Award made a wise decision picking you as the director of the year. I think we look forward in anticipation to what you do in the future. But even if you never do anything else, many in your tribe, many in the world, are deeply grateful of the time and genius it took to show us a way that it should be. Forever and eternally grateful to say that we are of African descent. Thank you.
— Harry Belafonte via Vulture

Now that the important part is out of the way we can move on the unfortunate. 

The annual New York Film Critic Circle Awards Dinner is notable for two reasons. It is a night of speeches and acceptance.

And without fail Armond White, who served as Chairman of the NYFCC three times, will fuck it up because he can. 

Listen, I could reiterate what Armond has and hasn't done. But Gawker and FilmDrunk gloss over the history of one of the smuggest and yet culturally endearing-like-a-rabid-cocker-spaniel critics. Everything about him is a walking contradiction and it has become more of an I.D. badge than a badge of honor by this point.

The recent outrage after Tuesday's dinner isn't anything new. But that's inherently the problem with organizations populated with people that buy into their own hype. It isn't about honoring talent or performance. It becomes a gathering waiting for a drunk uncle to inevitably stand up and tell his younger nephews, nieces and children how they don't get culture like he does because they're immature and hipsters.

An "emergency meeting" will be held on Monday January 13 of the NYFCC for a number of reasons, the least of which being leaked emails. The entire power vacuum is, in the words of a connoisseur I know, "a fucking joke."  Out of the entire NYFCC membership, Armond stands as something of a polarizing figure. Not because he's right, but because even in a niche position he must have realized what he has to do to stay relevant when paired against the oncoming wave of "kid critcz." 

Anyway, I'm going off on a tangent when I meant to share a very simple concept.

How to Armond right. 


The key guide to understanding and even learning from a review by Armond is to put yourself into his world. It is a world where the late eighties and nineties were fucking terrifying and tough places. To sum it up for the tl;dr crowd "shit's fucked brah." Arguably it still is, but thankfully most of us have smart phones to kill the pain. 

Still Armond's greatest strength is his breadth of knowledge. He has arguably consumed more in film, hip-hop and direction than you have if you're under 30. This isn't a slight against you--this is his opinion along with personal views about Roger Ebert's iconic thumb. But here is where you have an advantage. 

Welcome to the age of streaming and torrenting. While the end of film may/may not be awesome, your options are worlds larger than Armond's. For the price of four non-matinee movie tickets, you can have access to Instant, Hulu Plus and Amazon Prime. You can search past the shit and find out that there are indeed stand-outs in the data if you are willing to look for it. On Hulu Plus, you have access to nearly 800 of the greatest films preserved.

Those are just for catch-all. There's still Fandor, Mubi, Vimeo and VHX. There is no excuse to be uninformed.

When Armond gripes about those under 30 not having the life experience, he's not wrong. But you can easily make up for it with quality of product.


It is hard out there in contemporary criticism to figure out exactly what you want to be. There is nothing wrong with liking The Hunger Games nor is there nothing negative about liking foreign films. The false negativity spread by "my shit is better than your shit" comes from commenter culture. To put this bluntly: if you're a commenter, you're not the fucking writer so go right fuck off and write something you ignorant slut.

Did you see what I did there? The problem with comments, and in turn the legion spawned by the Rotten Tomatoes mentality and the vox populi not giving a shit as Vadim found out at New York Comic-Con, are 9000 percent of the time they don't want discussion. They want to prove you wrong. This is a core basis of how Armond writes. You are an idiot, he is not. You are uninformed, he is not etc. 

There are key ways to fight this. 

  • Read a newspaper. Doesn't matter which one.
  • Read Reddit. 
  • Read The Notebook.
  • Read Keyframe.
  • Read the curated headlines at MCN.
  • Don't read trades or scoop sites. I know a few of those people. They're fine people. But you don't need to know about who could play what and be a talking raccoon with a tree man.

The entire point of consuming information is for reference points. Armond thrives on this. It's the easiest crutch he uses to show his experience to readers and those he wants to put down. Listen to how he deals with fanboyism.


Go on.


How are you feeling? It doesn't matter. How does Armond feel, is what you should ask yourself. You see, everything is terrible and no one understands your pain. Not the type of self-depression and loathing that one can find on a podcast but you're aware things aren't quite right.

Which is why you think back to things that are superior. Things that in current context make no sense, but the ideal of a performance or moment is so vivid that it makes sense to you. Because you just like shit and no one can tell you otherwise. 

Consider it like vulgar auteurism dialed up way past being autism and straight into the glorious final hour of Transformers: Dark of the Moon when Michael Bay literally takes the U.S. Armed Forces out for a test reel and a fuck you to Christopher Nolan's pathetic eye for modern structure in Chicago. The waste of Wally Pfister's IMAX capturing bleak colors whereas Amir Mokri knows how to encapsulate the same space with a level of bombast that the dynamic dunces of Nolan/Pfister failed over a decade to capture.

See, it's that easy.


The most terrifying moment in my creative life came one night at a bar on Bushwick Avenue and 30 Rock was on. I'm sure I was deep into a third or fourth Rare Vos when I looked over and saw on closed caption that Tracy Jordan just said "Truthbomb." This was disturbing to me because I, as @Armond, would drop those bombs at the end of tweets. They became an insider joke. A signature. It even graced the second-to-last-print cover of the New York Press. 

My most notable trait was stolen from fucking 30 Rock

It didn't sink in until the end of that Rare Vos, but  my most notable trait was stolen from fucking 30 Rock by the man who would give me control of @ArmondWhite. I wasn't the original and over the years would give control of the account to whoever wanted it. In that time, the parody account has grown and transformed like a beast. It consumes, re-appropriates and continues on.

This is the key to being Armond right. You can borrow, you can be influenced and you can keep having opinions. You can heckle, you can laugh and you can talk shit. Have different opinions. Go see more foreign films. Don't see more foreign films. Go to rep houses. Don't go. Do whatever you want. Just don't be a dick.

If someone can repeatedly pull off scarily accurate representations of your thinking and voice, it may be time to stop living up the parody and adjust thinking.

Or don't. And just drop #truthbombs like it's 2014.