So That Thing About Armond White Wishing Abortion on Noah Baumbach

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03/10/2010 4:36 PM |


Yesterday I wrote about the critical kerfuffle ensuing when New York Press Armond White was, briefly, barred from screenings of Noah Baumbach’s forthcoming film Greenberg. The publicist who made the call cited the history of animus between White and Baumbach, including personally directed negative reviews, racially charged arguments in print and in person between White and Baumbach’s mother, former Voice critic Georgia Brown, and a comment by White to the effect that Brown should have had an abortion.

I couldn’t find any trace of the abortion remark other than allusions to it in various comments sections, none preceding an unsourced and unattributed comment from 2007. So, I was skeptical of the quote’s provenance (“Apocrypha until proven otherwise”). I updated the post this morning to reflect a more specific attribution pending confirmation, and have now been beaten to the NYPL’s microfiche room by longtime lead Voice critic and keeper of the institutional memory J. Hoberman, who has found the quote in question. It’s pictured; it’s from White’s 1998 review of Baumbach’s film Mr. Jealousy. It’s pictured, complete with the last lines:

I won’t comment on Baumbach’s deliberate, onscreen references to his former film-reviewer mother except to note how her colleagues now shamelessly bestow reviews as belated nursery presents. To others, Mr. Jealousy might suggest retroactive abortion.

(The “onscreen references” to Baumbach’s mother Georgia Brown are on the marquee of Cinema Village, mocked-up for a Man Who Shot Liberty Valance revival featuring pullquote from “G Brown.”)

That, then, is what people were talking about.

So ends my 24 hours spent inadvertently fanning flames that well precede me. Always glad to help, guys.

5 Comment

  • You mean there’s a way to do research without the internet?!

    While this doesn’t

  • I know, right? (I didn’t initially ask someone like you or Atkinson or Zoller Seitz–or Armond for that matter–because the recalled quote was so vague; after it was sourced more precisely I was preparing to send someone up to the NYPL ‘fiche room when it broke; presumably Hobes had the jump on me since he was there and all. Nor is the article on the usual research databases to which my “research consultant” [read: a library student and NYU employee of my acquaintance] has access, we checked.)

    Anyway, people who wish to parse the exact meaning and implications of “retroactive abortion” are more than welcome to but jesus christ with the hairsplitting in my opinion.

  • Yeah, by yikes, I meant I don’t see much room for hairsplitting. As insults go, it’s fairly straightforward.

  • You’d think, but the commenters at the Voice would seem to disagree. Armond’s editor does, too (“Well, he would, wouldn’t he?” Mandy Rice-Davies says):…

  • yes, plausible deniability. You could say he meant to say the movie was in need of a “retroactive abortion”, not the director. Didn’t have time to read the comments yet. Did Hoberman write the review of Mr. Jealousy in the Voice?