Film critic expelled from New York group for jeering Steve McQueen

A week after “12 Years a Slave” director Steve McQueen reportedly was ridiculed as an “embarrassing doorman” at the New York Film Critics Circle Awards, critic Armond White has been shown the door himself.

The critics group voted Monday morning to expel White from its ranks, member Owen Gleiberman confirmed in an online post.

White, the editor and movie critic of City Arts, has denied reports that he heckled McQueen while the British filmmaker was accepting a directing award last week, but Gleiberman wrote: “I was sitting about 40 feet away from him, and though I couldn’t make out everything that was said, I can testify: Everyone at my table lurched around to see where the loud, jeering, disruptive comments were coming from. This unquestionably fit the definition of heckling.”

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Although White is a former chairman of the group, this isn’t the first time he has been called out for inappropriate behavior at a critics circle gala. According to Gleiberman and other reports, White insulted winners at the 2011 and 2012 awards.

White has a reputation as a provocateur, often panning critically acclaimed films while championing movies derided by his colleagues. But with this latest controversy, which notably took place in the context of a celebration and not in the pages of a critical publication, White seems to have crossed the thin line separating contrarianism from churlishness.

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“White has the right to believe, and say in print, anything he wants,” Gleiberman wrote. “But disrupting a public event is a squalid form of acting out that has no defense. And that’s why he was kicked out of the New York Film Critics Circle: because of a disturbing, and arguably disturbed, pattern of stubborn misbehavior.”


In the wake of his expulsion, White gave the Hollywood Reporter his side of the story. He said: “The comments that I supposedly made were never uttered by me or anyone within my earshot. I have been libeled by publications that recklessly quoted unnamed sources that made up what I said and to whom I was speaking. Someone on the podium talked about critics’ passion. Does passion only run one way toward subservience?”


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