rrenault wrote:No, I think Armond just has a Grade-A infrared pretension detector, so he'll invariably rankle some, but he speaks the truth more often than not, even if you don't want to hear it.
Calling something out as "pretentious" is usually a pretty lazy route for a critic to take, because usually it's so much in the eye of the beholder that there's no such thing as having a finely tuned detector for it. Same with terms like "hipster self-righteousness" and "hipster nihilists" etc., which don't apply on the level of objective truth or accuracy and instead just give him a rhetorical target and allow him to argue that we're perpetually reaching the nadir of a "cultural abyss." I don't find what he says true or false in most of his writing; it lacks the clarity and specificity to even have truth value and instead ends up being bafflingly expressed opinions, which tend to use films to pound away at a jeremiad about how our society's moral values are in decline or actively under attack and then preaches about what we should value and what we need to get back on track. These tactics have great ideological and even emotional appeal, which is why so many politicians, religious officials, reactionary social crusaders and pundits have used them to increase their influence.
He's not a right-winger, but more than anything, he despises postmodernism.
He's not? I realize that "right" and "left" are often oversimplified, but he's writing for National Review
, ranting about liberals (and "limousine liberals" in particular a favorite right-wing rhetorical target), criticizing a film because it supposedly "disparaged American foreign policy." He's lionized The Passion of the Christ while vilifying Michael Moore and blaming "the left" for criticisms of Mel Gibson (a polarizing tactic that seemed to deliberately announce his right-wing affinities and earn him a niche readership. And earlier he became the Armond we know and love when he was at New York Press
, which often took a "conservative" or "politically incorrect" slant in order to set itself apart from its main competitor, the Voice
. He can
write about film calmly and competently as some of his Criterion booklet essays show, but he never would have made a name for himself with that mode of his writing. To do that he's had to play to a certain readership who likes to hear familiar talking points about how liberals and the films they love are destroying traditional American values, and lauds him for "telling it like it is," though honestly I rarely see much praise for him, which perhaps explains why many claim he must be intentionally trolling. He seems to have taken notions that I think many of us could agree on to some extent—that many films generally praised by critics aren't very original or good, and that the Academy fawns over a lot of feel-good shlock—and taken this to consistently ridiculous and incoherent extremes.