Friday, 10 June 2011

A Film Critic On A Film Critic - Addressing Armond White

I am doing this to address the critic's circle's opinions of Armond White. But then again, perhaps I am not the right person to be doing this, as White would no doubt consider outside of the strata of the 'legitimate' film critic's circle. Known for his contrarian views, White has built a reputation for irking many other film critic's, sullying the Tomatometer status of some people's favourite film's (Toy Story 3, my Best Film of 2010, included), and for being a general moan. However, I will present as best I can an objective and critical view of White's opinions.

As mentioned, White would consider me unqualified to offer my position, both on himself and film. He has no shame (and so he shouldn't, it is his opinion) in arguing that he associates online film critics with "amateurism, gossip [and] cliques." I get the amateur part certainly, as I am an amateur, but experience is the only way you are gonna learn and I am now in my fifth year of criticism and know that I have and will continue to improve. I don't get the gossip part, for many people who go to the effort of writing film reviews which are informative don't give a shit about who slept with who, who is gay or straight, who divorced who etc etc. Finally, we have the "cliques." The reason that many people who write online do so is because mainstream film reviewing magazines, newspapers and broadsheets have by default a particular style of writing that they are looking. The Internet gives critics, young, unemployed ones at that, the opportunity to have distinctive critical voices that deserve to be heard and clearly stand out from the "cliques."

Here come's the part that really get's me riled up. White argues that "there should be no film critics under the age of 30" as they lack life experience and the necessary scholarship. I do get White's argument on the former: there is a distinct lack of lack experience, however, life experience can cloud one's judgement, and thus if we look the work of younger critic's and artists under the age of 18, one can find a sort of untainted purity in their opinion's. This is where new ideas emerge and keep alive film criticism. Also, the lack of a necessary scholarship is, put simply, an elitist argument that shows White as approving of a sort of inner circle of film criticism, rather ironic considering he sees himself as apart from the mould of these critics. This is rather paradoxical, like calling oneself an anti-intellectual intellectual. Furthermore, Mr. White, I will have the necessary scholarship required to qualify in your boundaries of critical estimation in two years, but it still won't stop me from posting and adding to the scourge of film criticism and your general disdain in the period that I will have to wait for these qualifications.

There are other things that I could say, but to be frank, I am tired. I have written reviews for Attack The Block and The Hangover Part II today off of four-and-a-half hours sleep, so I haven't done too bad. With regards to Armond White though, whilst I disagree with much of his opinion's, he is certainly entitled to them. We cannot let ourselves sneer and fire ill-minded judgements in his general direction. Film criticism is as White puts it "intellectual anarchy," though I'd love to scratch the intellectual out of that, as it is a horrible word. This anarchy creates a vast, wide multiplicity of ideas through which audiences can gaze into our literal smelting pot of opinions. There is no reason why one cannot be an individual critic, who views film's in socio-politico terms, as pure entertainment, or even both, whilst embracing a respect for other's opinion's, no matter how right one might think themselves.

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