According to reports, a critic heckled 12 Years a Slave director Steve McQueen at the New York Film Critics Circle Awards last night, and, unfortunately, it's no surprise who it was.
Per Ramin Setoodeh of Variety, Armond White, the notoriously cantankerous critic known for his vicious pans of many well-loved films, shouted at McQueen when he took the stage to accept his Best Director prize. White said, Setoodeh reported, "You’re an embarrassing doorman and garbage man" and "F—you. Kiss my ass." According to Scott Feinberg of The Hollywood Reporter, White "could not be heard from the front of the room and did not interrupt the proceedings." And though the McQueen heckle was the one that made headlines, per Slate's Dana Stevens White and his companion at the event were incessant. "My friend & I left the table after that big outburst. But he & cohort had been drunk & heckling at a lesser level the whole time," she tweeted. (It's worth noting that what White was doing wasn't evident to everyone at the event.) White, it should be noted, panned 12 Years in October, writing that it "belongs to the torture porn genre."
This, of course, is not an unfamiliar occurrence at these awards, as many have pointed out. In 2011, when he was emcee of the event, White took his opportunity to take digs at the films being awarded and got into a spat with director Darren Aronofsky. (In the aftermath of that, he wrote that "racism motivates" fellow critics Lisa Schwarzbaum and J. Hoberman.) The following year, he also continued his tradition of disrupting proceedings, as he did in 2013 when he yelled what was likely "fuck you" at Michael Moore.
So the latest outburst from White shouldn't surprise anyone, but is obviously frustrating. "Wow, these comments are so disrespectful. I like Armond in person, but the NYFCC should reconsider his membership," The Playlist tweeted. Writer Mark Harris added: "If this Variety story is accurate, it is stomach-turning, and ought not to be shrugged off."
But perhaps there are elements of the dinner that should be highlighted instead of White's rudeness. Before McQueen took the stage he was introduced by Harry Belafonte, which Feinberg reported "left the director in tears and stole the show up to that point." Criticwire editor Sam Adams tweeted that he wished the Variety story "conveyed the substance of Belafonte's remarks instead of letting them be overshadowed by AW's boorishness." Stevens had noted: "High point of #NYFCC awards: Harry Belafonte's gracious, eloquent off-the-cuff speech upon presenting best director award to Steve McQueen."