The good news, for those who attended the latest New York Film Critics Circle awards celebration: Armond White’s outburst from the back of the room could not be heard at the front. The bad news: In a roomful of reporters, anything said can be quickly and duly noted, casting a permanent pall on the proceedings:
From the back of the Edison Hotel Ballroom, White yelled at Steve McQueen, the NYFCC’s Best Director winner for 12 Years a Slave. “You’re an embarrassing doorman and garbage man. F— you. Kiss my ass,” according to a Variety reporter seated near him.
The outburst from White, who has behaved similarly at past NYFCC ceremonies and has derided McQueen’s film since October, could not be heard from the front of the room and did not interrupt the proceedings. McQueen had just taken the stage following a passionate introduction from the legendary Harry Belafonte that left the director in tears and stole the show up to that point.
What is wrong with this CityArts journo? It’s one thing to hang your hat on being a contrarian. But a January 6 awards celebration and room full of distant peers is not the time, place to hoist hackneyed views onto an attendee, much less an honoree! Chosen by the very organization to which the heckler belongs!!
Let’s flip the vitriol around for a hypothetical second, to underline how egregious White’s behavior was. Imagine if, upon accepting the 2013 Best Director award, McQueen had turned to the audience and began with something like: “I must say, everything is great about this except the fact that Armond White is in the audience. The presence of such a hack makes it difficult for me to enjoy the moment.”[Twitter avatar courtesy: @3xchair]
Update (7:00 p.m.):
The New York Film Critics Circle has scheduled an emergency meeting on January 13 to discuss and deal with fallout from the White incident.
The NYFCC formal apology can be read over at Deadline.
Update (January 8):
Via The Hollywood Reporter, White has vehemently denied making any of the reported comments:
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…
Did I make sotto voce comments to entertain my five guests? Sure, but nothing intended for others to hear and none correctly “reported.” I don’t even know what it means to call McQueen a “garbage man” or “doorman” even though the racist implications are obvious. None of this makes sense which is what happens when online journalism reports a malicious lie.
Read White’s complete response here.