Skip to content, or skip to search.

Skip to content, or skip to search.

Blackening White re: Brown

Armond White doesn’t need or probably want defenders in this whole Greenberg-Noah Baumbach contretemps—least of all defenders like me, a privileged, white, godless, anti-Bush Ivy League grad who thought Noah Baumbach’s The Squid and the Whale was an acute depiction of divorce’s impact on the psyche of kids. (Apart from the gruesome Margot at the Wedding, Baumbach’s movies strike me as brave to a fault: He’s almost eager to sit in judgment on himself.) But I must take exception to the charge that Armond’s attacks are solely based on antipathy toward Baumbach’s mother, the former Village Voice critic Georgia Brown, rather than on Baumbach’s own aesthetic. Consider the autobiographical Squid, in which the character of the mother (modeled on Brown) is a chill narcissist. In one scene, her profoundly damaged younger son flees his father’s apartment and turns up at her house, where she’s entertaining her much-younger tennis instructor. She tells the crying, stricken child it’s not her night on duty and packs him off. Brrrrrrr. Watching the boys torn between two equally selfish parents, your heart goes out to them: How could they not have felt angry and bereft? How, later in life, can they possibly find salvation in family or religion or other values for which Armond swings his cudgel? No, I believe Armond's hatred for Baumbach’s movies is pure. If all he cared about were seeing Brown depicted as an irredeemable monster, he’d have put The Squid and the Whale on his all-time ten-best list.

0