By Ryan Koch

It’s the most wonderful time of the year. Yes, that’s right, award season. To me, the award season for film and TV is the cat’s pajamas (or bee’s knees, etc). Reason being, unlike the Grammy’s, the Academy actually recognizes fine pieces of work. Though many great films of the year go unnoticed, you can still bet the nominated films, whether they win or not, are universally loved by critics. Every now and then you will find a review that disagrees with the rest, but never have I read one that bashes a film by comparing it to an actual rap music video.

If you read Armond White’s most recent review for the New York Press, you’ll notice how he gives a detailed breakdown comparing (or contrasting; it’s hard to tell exactly what he was getting at) Kanye West’s music video for Runaway and Darren Aronofsky’s Black Swan. Maybe I’m wrong here but Runaway and Black Swan were never in competition to find out who could make the most surreal story about artistic metamorphosis. Neither one of them were competing for the “Franz Kafka” award, so, why is it necessary to express an irrelevant opinion about how two totally unrelated concepts lacked a central cohesiveness? I understand that everyone has an opinion, but let’s take a second look at ourselves before we go and publish something with our name on it.

Maybe it’s because I don’t actually follow critics, journalists, etc, but I have never heard of Armond White prior to his review of Black Swan. It is possible that he accomplished exactly what he wanted out of it, his name in more than just his own article, and people like me continuing to create a buzz surrounding it. Was this a chance for him to showcase his overbearing ideologies on one of the most beloved films of the year in order to create a name for himself?

The entire review just seemed to attack Black Swan because he felt more connected to Kanye West’s music video. So technically Mr. White isn’t just criticizing Mr. Aronofsky when he bashes the film. He is also criticizing the entire cast’s performance, the screenplay, the cinematography, the editing, the score, etc. all because he feels the entire concept “didn’t relate to anything real.” Have you ever heard of a metaphor? Is it hard to believe that real human beings could want something bad enough it figuratively drives them to the point of madness?

That’s the beauty of art. It’s ability to transcend cultures, opinions, tastes, so everyone can form an opinion on how it relates to them. If you are unable to relate to it, so be it. That’s all you have to say, “This truly isn’t for me.” What I never understood is how someone can criticize an artist. Criticize the material for whatever reason; it’s too “cerebral,” “pretentious,” “I’m too hip to conform to the mainstream consensus,” (Hey, there’s a rhyme Armond. Why don’t you sell that to Kanye so you can actually make an honest buck) but let’s not attack the hard work put forth by everyone involved in the creation.

I feel no one can tell an artist (i.e. musician, painter, director, writer, etc) if they have failed or not because none of these said “critics” knows exactly what the said “artist” was trying to accomplish. Darren Aronofsky is the only person who can judge Darren Aronofsky at the end of the day. “Is the final product what I had imaged it would be when I started it? Is it better or is it worse?”

That’s why I’m glad to see Darren called out Armond at the New York Film Critics Circle awards by saying, “I thought I was giving White the compassion award because if you don’t have something, you should get it. Seriously, keep it up because you give all of us another reason not to read The New York Press.” White responded with “That’s all right. Darren reads me. That’s all I want. And because he reads me, he knows the truth.” Maybe I’m alone here, but I certainly would read an article if it was written about me, so of course Darren is going to read the review, it is about him! Don’t give yourself a pat on the back just yet, Armond.