Wednesday, July 21, 2010
Armond White And The Nature Of The Troll
Listening to Armond White's rare appearance on the Slashfilmcast earlier today, and was caught in feeling that not only was the man's intense disdain for the films of directors like Christopher Nolan unreasonably old-fashioned, but is telling about his entire reputation as an internet troll with a soapbox. The New York Press-based writer has become notorrious in his often contrarian for their own sake reviews of often critically praised works, including Nolan's previous film, The Dark Knight, and yet heaps praise for directors such as Michael Bay.(now there's no accounting for taste, as the old saying loops)Perhaps on text, it all does seem as if this educated writer could in fact sum up the acumen necessary to back up his views, but upon listening to this week's appearance, it comes off the way many of us had feared, that it may either be the elaborate work of a would-be troll, or simply the fearful words of an outdated model of film criticism.
And therein lies the issue with not only film critics, but also with anyone in a position of influence who takes offense toward evolving methods of communication. If you have a strong position that is counter to popular acceptance, you'd better bring not only your intellectual A-game, but you must also come armed with open context based upon new data. An understanding of the modern audience is an important element. Even when I personally find a film remote from my liking, despite mass appeal, it is important for me to attempt to understand why. What Mr. White seems to rally for, is a return to an era of film that has not only long past, but will never be returning.(even going so far as to claiming that Roger Ebert was responsible for the downfall of film criticism) And perhaps it is this that he feels threatened, in a needy position to justify why he feels lost with current , and ever warping storytelling methods, even if they are attempting something ambitiously new. Without the reservoir ready in hand, it is natural to see the world as a naturally occurring spiral of negatives, but the explanation is a massive part of what makes journalism so vital. But when asked about certain direct questions via slashfilmcast host, David Chen, many of his answers were of the "no comment" ilk. This method of explanation does little to continue the discourse of film, and art in general.
His comments regarding INCEPTION couldn't be more naive & one-sided. Again, sharing words more akin to short-attention-spanned viewers than an actual historian of the filmic arts. And this is about a mainstream piece that attempts to utilize a more literate approach to the proceedings. To reduce the themes and ideas of the film to merely video game fodder,..feels like he didn't really watch the film after all.
Which reminds me of many a time where I have been wondering if I myself could come from a similar cloth, to perhaps being a contrarian myself. Upon which at the end, I would resoundingly conclude with a simple, no. For me, it is more an exploration into finding what makes a work connect or not, while seeking out the jewels that must speak to certain folks. It isn't always easy, but the needs for an empathic link with the audience and for an observant eye for intention are crucial. These elements are perhaps tenets of certain critics not Mr. White, but I will state that for one, I prefer to read from, or listen to. To merely shut off, and not clarify what isn't coming across is dangerous in any field of communication. After all, the internet itself can be seen as an eternally intricate series of meta-conversations, and trolling is not unlike contextual pornography.
It serves a segment of an audience who wishes to hear it at the cost of actually communicating, or even creating.
As much as I admire the gall with which he speaks, it would have been nice to have seen a more even-ended glimpse toward understanding what makes such a mind tick. But the problems multiply throughout the recording, making it clear that this is merely conjecture, blasting out in order to get a rise out of film fans, and offering little for us to really chew on. To be true, there is a history of film to be appreciated, and much to be learned, but to merely raise a nose up in disapproval without any will toward clarity does little to bridge gaps, and serves to create more.
And to this, may we never mention him here again. Save the attention for someone who can both talk the talk, and walk the walk. Anything less, I can get from a random visit to a Chan site.