12 Years a Slave was my favorite film of the year, so I was pretty disappointed when I read in outlets such as The Guardian and Variety that former /Filmcast guest Armond White had heckled Steve McQueen during the New York Film Critics Circle Awards. Sure, White was no fan of 12 Years a Slave, as demonstrated in our /Filmcast review of the film with him. But shouting down a man during an evening meant to praise him? It struck me as wildly inappropriate. The Chair of the NYFCC, Joshua Rothkopf, agreed and issued a public apology.
I asked Armond White to respond to the allegations. I have recorded our conversation and I am releasing it in its entirety as a bonus /Filmcast episode.
I listened to about half of the interview on my way to work this morning. Armond White does not speak as if he is not guilty, he hedges and uses his words carefully and wordsmiths everything he says. Now, that may just be the way the man is but it struck me as odd. Additionally, there are plenty of eyewitnesses coming forward so I’m not sure what the point of denying it is.
I’m flatly denying it and it’s important that people know that the truth is not being spoken by Rothkopf or by Variety either. No one’s insisted upon confirmation. No one’s insisted upon truth. And if you look at the quote, the quote is nonsensical. I’ve gotten calls from people who said “Armond, that doesn’t even sound like you.” I said “Of course it’s not me because I didn’t say it. I don’t even know what ‘garbage man’ and ‘doorman’ mean. What does that refer to?” If you look at it plainly and simply and without bias, it doesn’t make any sense. It’s just gossip.
At one point Dave Chen asked Armond if, since he didn’t do the heckling did he hear the heckling. And instead of answering the very clear and concise question right away he launches into a diatribe asking what is heckling, do people even know what heckling is, maybe they’re just being loose with words, etc. Dave was eventually able to restate the question in a way that pleased White and he responded that he did not hear the things that were being said while McQueen was on stage.
But, to help Armond out, here’s the definition of heckling:
: to interrupt (someone, such as a speaker or performer) by shouting annoying or rude comments or questions
That seems to apply here regardless of who did it and White’s diatribe about the use of the word “heckle” seems quite petty and stupid. I’m not buying any of this from White. Too many people seem to have saw it. I’m not sure what the guy’s end game is here.