Throw Off the Chains and Shake Off the Haters.

“12 Years” director Steve McQueen is congratulated by actor and activist Harry Belafonte (photo credit: Star Pix)

Personal matters have prevented me from updating the blog as frequently as I would like.  Hey, that’s the the way of the world, y’know?

In 2013 there may be better movies than 12 Years A Slave. There are certainly far more “entertaining” movies than 12 Years A Slave.

With few exceptions such as Fruitvale Station, there are no movies in 2013 that mean something more than 12 Years A Slave.

Django Unchained is entertainment. 12 Years A Slave is edutainmentHarry Belafonte noted the historical significance of the film in his address to the New York Film Critics Circle Awards honoring director Steve McQueen’s monumental cinematic accomplishment.  Unfortunately, the news that came out of the awards was the asshole actions of Armond White, the barely professional curmudgeon, contrarian, and crank who passes himself off as a film critic.   White proved his trolling tendencies by going all the way off as soon as Belafonte finished speaking as Variety reported.

Armond White, film critic

“I am not a contrarian; everyone else is a conformist.”

As soon as McQueen took the stage, White started shouting from his table at the back of the room. “You’re an embarrassing doorman and garbage man,” White boomed. “Fuck you. Kiss my ass.”

White hated 12 Years A Slave as he hates any movie widely acclaimed by other critics.   But disagreeing is never enough for White.  He also has to prove his taste is vastly superior to yours.   This sort of bad behavior is nothing new for White who goes out of his way to be a dick.  If we all acted like Armond White we should commit mass suicide for being such raging douchebags.   There’s nothing to admire about a hack and troll who screams abuse and drops F-bombs on better men than himself. I think for myself, I decide for myself and I don’t need a damn fool like White to do either for me.

White has denied he screamed the insults, but it fits his pattern of crude behavior.    If he ever directed a movie it would be called 50 Years An Asshole. 

I’m bored talking about a troll and a hack like White. Lost in his b.s. is what Harry Belafonte, someone who has done more for Black culture by accident than White has done on purpose, said about 12 Years A Slave and Steve McQueen. The squeaky wheel shouldn’t always get the grease nor snatch all the headlines.

Belafonte said in part:

A lot’s gone on with Hollywood. A lot could be said about it. But at this moment, I think what is redeeming, what is transformative, is the fact that a genius, an artist, is of African descent, although he’s not from America, he is of America, and he is of that America which is part of his own heritage; [he] made a film called 12 Years a Slave, which is stunning in the most emperial way. So it’s a stage that enters a charge made by The Birth of a Nation, that we were not a people, we were evil, rapists, abusers, absent of intelligence, absent of soul, heart, inside. In this film, 12 Years a Slave, Steve steps in and shows us, in an overt way, that the depth and power of cinema is there for now the world to see us in another way. I was five when I saw Tarzan of the Apes, and the one thing I never wanted to be, after seeing that film, was an African. I didn’t want to be associated with anybody that could have been depicted as so useless and meaningless. And yet, life in New York led me to other horizons, other experiences. And now I can say, in my 87th year of life, that I am joyed, I am overjoyed, that I should have lived long enough to see Steve McQueen step into this space and for the first time in the history of cinema, give us a work, a film, that touches the depths of who we are as a people, touches the depths of what America is as a country, and gives us a sense of understanding more deeply what our past has been, how glorious our future will be, and could be.

I think that the Circle Award made a wise decision picking you as the director of the year. I think we look forward in anticipation to what you do in the future. But even if you never do anything else, many in your tribe, many in the world, are deeply grateful of the time and genius it took to show us a way that it should be. Forever and eternally grateful to say that we are of African descent. Thank you.


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