Armond White has developed a reputation for being intentionally contrarian with his film reviews, writing opinions that deviate wildly from the critical consensus in a calculated bid to get attention. His critiques of much-derided movies like Jack And Jill, for example, have led some to accuse him of behaving like a real-life Internet troll, taking deliberately provocative positions and concocting defenses of seemingly irredeemable movies, based on thematic subtext that only he appears to notice, or psychological insight into their creators that only he seems to have. He says these controversial things, these accusers say, because he’s some kind of self-styled iconoclast (if not just sort of a jerk). Of course, most of Armond White’s fellow critics clearly have problems with his reviews because they all operate from a cowardly, purely Eurocentric viewpoint and also had difficult relationships with their fathers. The ancient Greeks would have understood this right away.
But if you think the Oedipal white man’s ramblings in articles such as, say, “It’s time for Armond White to explain why everyone is wrong about Jack And Jill” have had any effect on White, rest assured that they have not. In a recent interview with SiriusXM’s “Ron And Fez Show” about the typical Internet reaction to his reviews, White dismissed such “sniping and carping and schoolyard meanness” from what he characterizes as “idiots or stupid kids,” wondering aloud whether any of those people have actually bothered to read his reviews, or whether they’re just making snap judgments about him, all based on the tiniest of information. Then he said this ironic thing:
Ron Bennington: A.V. Club actually did this— “It’s Time for Armond White to Explain Why Everyone is Wrong About Jack And Jill.
Armond White: A-ha. I’m glad you bring that up, because that’s all I saw was the headline. I wouldn’t waste my time reading the rest of it, because the headline itself, I thought was stupid. I don’t have to explain why anybody is wrong—that ain’t what I’m interested in. I’m explaining my response to Jack And Jill. I’m not explaining why you’re wrong. I’m explaining how I respond to the movie. That’s all any critic ever does, and it’s kind of sad that in 2011 people still don’t understand that.
Of course, White’s review of Jack And Jill does most of his explaining from a defensive position, saying in the very first sentence that most other critics fail to appreciate Adam Sandler movies because they’re not “dumb fun,” then suggesting that they balk at acknowledging Sandler’s insight into the human condition because of their own personal hang-ups about family and ethnicity. To be fair, White is correct in that he never puts this implicit line in the sand explicitly in terms of “right” and “wrong”—but then, we were pretty tongue-in-cheek about the whole “right” and “wrong” thing anyway. That’s sort of what we do here.
But hey, we’re just one of those childish, schoolyard bullies sniping from the sidelines; no need to actually pay attention to us. The real measure of the knee-jerk reaction to his opinions on Jack And Jill, Armond White says, is that he’s now been kicked off of Rotten Tomatoes. White made the claim after Bennington pointed out his presence on the review aggregate site had long been a source of contention for people who feel that White intentionally “spoils” positive ratings for movies.
Ron Bennington: I know another big one was that they wanted to get 100% on Rotten Tomatoes for Toy Story 3 and you kind of screwed that up for them.
Armond White: Yes and no. Like I said, I wonder if they actually read my review. I wonder if they actually look at Rotten Tomatoes. I’m not on Rotten Tomatoes anymore.
Ron Bennington: Your positive review of Adam Sandler did not affect the Rotten Tomatoes meter?
Armond White: No, no, the guy at Rotten Tomatoes won’t put me on the site anymore. I guess I’m not the only one on the planet who liked Jack And Jill because the guy on Rotten Tomatoes doesn’t list me anymore. I guess I’ve been taken off the Rotten Tomatoes list. So apparently there are some other Jack And Jill likers out there.
Which certainly would be an example of Armond White, rebel film critic, being swiftly and unfairly ostracized by childish colleagues who believe that he exists only to manufacture controversy. Except it’s not true.
The A.V. Club spoke to “the guy” at Rotten Tomatoes, editor-in-chief Matt Atchity, who explained that White’s most recent reviews don’t appear on the website because as of earlier this fall, he no longer writes for New York Press, and they simply haven’t yet had a chance to consider whether his new publication, CITYArts, should be included. “If he’d been kicked off, he wouldn’t still have a profile page,” Atchity points out, noting that White contacted him approximately a month ago to let him know that he'd moved, and explaining that this automatically put him in line with all the other publications vying for inclusion. Because of this incident, however, Atchity now says they’re considering looking into adding White's newer reviews as early as this week, sighing, “We’re aware of what sort of press he generates.”
As to White’s claim that his Jack And Jill review was the unforgivable opinion that finally forced Rotten Tomatoes to reconsider having him around? “That’s just Armond being Armond,” Atchity said. “Some people just like to stir up controversy.” Which, great, yet more drawing outlandish conclusions based on a predetermined stance and only the tiniest bit of information—which, again, Armond White definitely does not do, obviously. Anyway, we went ahead and let Armond know the good news about Rotten Tomatoes in the headline so he’ll be sure to see it.