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Armond White vs. The World

Armond White vs. The World (photo)

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Armond White, the internet’s favorite film critic, strikes back against his detractors and the online consensus mob mentality in an article at the New York Press — after provoking more ire by being one of (at the time I’m writing this) only three negative reviews of “The Social Network” at Rotten Tomatoes. Regardless of where you stand on Armond’s writing and opinions, it’s a worthwhile read that lands some punches with regard to the spoilers police, the eclipsing of criticism by studio marketing, and the insanity of attacking writers for giving a film an unexpected bad (or, in the case of “Vampires Suck,” good) review:

Ridiculing the need for mature thought and discriminating judgment diminishes film culture. Any opinion that challenges the blockbuster market gets punished. We never experience a healthy exchange of ideas. The social networking approach to criticism encourages anti-intellectual harassment and the excoriation of individual response; it may spell the end of critical habits altogether.

The hostility that greets a pan of an anticipated film does seem to speak to a culture in which anticipation of what’s coming has become more important than what it’s like when it actually arrives. Worse, there’s the undercurrent of criticism being a killjoy, or taking too seriously what are “only movies,” as if to have higher expectations is to ask too much of an industry and an art that has huge cultural and financial impact in our lives.

Of course, for every valid point that Mr. White makes, there’s another that goes totally wild. His criticism of internet film culture includes everything from “The Social Network” to “trendy aggregate websites” like Rotten Tomatoes to “attacks from bloggers.” It indicates misunderstandings about how the internet works — he conflates bloggers with commenters (who leave “posts” on RT) and social networking sites with aggregators; he attaches significance to the way that “over three million Google results offered links to the ad hominem ferocity” — to his RT link? to the entry for the film? from where? And he addresses online culture as an impossible monolith in a way that can’t help but be seen as a “kids these days” rant.

And finally, he writes that “a new model of cultural response is taking over: criticism of criticism–and critics–as a pointless, snaky substitute for examining films themselves.” But in the field of “print” critics, if that’s a meaningful designation anymore, White has always been the worst offender in devoting whole segments of his reviews to the failures of his fellow critics. A few selections from his reviews:

“Critics preferred Let the Right One In for its selfpitying view of adolescence.” — from “Let Me In”

“The familiarity of these clichés explains the critical raves for Affleck’s two directorial stints. Given their specious ethnic subject matter, it is necessary to point out the mainstream media’s preference for this heist fantasy over the superior Takers as proof of racial preference; critics swallow Affleck’s thuggish pieties while ignoring the ethnic details in Takers and dismissing director John Luessenhop’s splendid distillation of genre form that gave it speed and complexity.” — from “The Town”

“If critics and fanboys weren’t suckers for simplistic nihilism and high-pressure marketing, Afterlife would be universally acclaimed as a visionary feat, superior to Inception and Avatar on every level.” — from “Resident Evil: Afterlife”

“Clooney’s still on his anti-American kick, sentimentalizing the corruption that appeals to cynical film critics who fall for his forced, noxious ‘charm.'” — from “The American”

“Most critics misjudged Wright’s 2006 Hot Fuzz as simply a cop movie parody; they completely ignored the sting in Wright’s spoofing how the English class system is repeated in its law enforcement bureaucracy and his bemused critique of its threatening arcane social traditions.” — from “Scott Pilgrim vs. the World”

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The Best Of The Last

Portlandia Goes Out With A Bang

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The end is near. In mere days Portlandia wraps up its final season, and oh what a season it’s been. Lucky for you, you can watch the entire season right now right here and on the IFC app, including this free episode courtesy of Subaru.

But now, let’s take a moment to look back at some of the new classics Fred and Carrie have so thoughtfully bestowed upon us. (We’ll be looking back through tear-blurred eyes, but you do you.)

Couples Dinner

It’s not that being single sucks, it’s that you suck if you’re single.

Cancel it!

A sketch for anyone who has cancelled more appointments than they’ve kept. Which is everyone.

Forgotten America

This one’s a “Serial” killer…everything both right and wrong about true crime podcasts.

Wedding Planners

The only bad wedding is a boring wedding.

Disaster Hut

It’s only the end of the world if your doomsday kit doesn’t include rosé.

Catch up on Portlandia’s final episodes on demand and at

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Your Portlandia Personality Test

The New Portlandia Webseries Is Going Your Way

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Carrie and Fred understand that although we have so much in common, we’re each so beautifully unique and different. To help us navigate those differences, Portlandia has found an easy and honest way to embrace our special selves in the form of a progressive new traffic system: a specific lane for every kind of driver. It’s all in honor of the show’s 8th and final season, and it’s all presented by Subaru.

Ready to find out who you really are? Match your personality to a lane and hop on the expressway to self-understanding.

Lane 10: Trucks Piled With Junk

Your junk is falling out of your trunk. Shake a tail light, people — this lane is for you.

Lane 33: Twins

You’re like a Gemini, but waaaay more pedestrian. Maybe you and a friend just wear the same outfits a lot. Who cares, it’s just twinning enough to make you feel special.

Lane 27: Broken Windows

Bad luck follows you around and everyone knows it. Your proverbial seat is always damp from proverbial rain. Is this the universe telling you to swallow your pride? Yes.

Lane 69: Filthy Cars

You’re all about convenience. Getting your car washed while you drive is a no-brainer.

Lane 43: Newly Divorced Singles

It’s been a while since you’ve driven alone, and you don’t know the rules of the road anymore. What’s too fast? What’s too slow? Are you sending the right signals? Don’t worry, the breakdown lane is nearby if you need it.

Still can’t find a lane to match your personality? Check out all the videos here. And see the final season of Portlandia this spring on IFC.

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Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

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