Potter Review Sparks Racist Slurs

Amazing, isn’t it, how movies that sing the virtues of tolerance and human decency often bring out the ogre in filmgoers.

As a daily newspaper critic, I slammed the second and third installments in the “Star Wars” Trilogy and paid the price: I received obscene phones calls and “F … you, Mr. Lovell!” fan mail.

When it comes to our passionate likes and dislikes, we can brook no opposition. It’s either “Side with me” or ‒ horrible gnashing of teeth here ‒ “Die, die, die … the death of a thousand cuts!”

Armond White: Pilloried

I’m reminded of this as I scan the near-rabid response to New York Press critic Armond White’s review of “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2.” White, known for his often contrarian positions, had the gall to not only pan the last Potter movie but slam the entire series in the process, grumbling, “This will go down as the dullest franchise in the history of movie franchises.” (Some pronouncement, especially when you take into account the “Porky’s” and “Chucky” franchises … but let that go for now.)

Not surprisingly, White’s review, excerpted on RottenTomatoes.com Wednesday, ignited a firestorm of complaint. By Saturday morning, there were more than 200 comments, the majority of which, to be kind, were testy. In an occasionally intentional play on words, readers declared White an (Internet) troll and suggested he “jump in front of a moving train.” Brian B admonished, “Go back under the bridge, Armond.”

Other choice epithets: “imbecile,” “pea-brain,” “hack,” “buffoon,” “douche-bag.”

Echoing Rowling’s Dark Forces, these Potter fans demanded White’s head on a platter. Fire him! Blacklist him! Ostracize him! They were clearly outraged that anyone could not champion their hero, avatar of reason and harmony … Chosen One.

Far worse were the racist slurs, evoking memories of the persecutory, anti-Muggle Ministry of Magic in the first half of “Deathly Hallows.” A number of comments alluded to White being black. Ed D. wrote, “Armond White don’t like white people.” Another reader: “If the main character in these films were black, we wouldn’t be having this conversation.” By Friday at 5:44 p.m., the conversation had degenerated into hate-speech and the n-word: “F‒king racist …!”

In 2005, upon the publication of “Half-Blood Prince,” Rowling said that it would be great if her books made people talk about racism and bullying but that she wasn’t naive enough to think of Potter as a panacea for “deeply entrenched prejudice … If someone (is) a committed racist, Harry Potter is not going to have an effect.”

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2 Responses to “Potter Review Sparks Racist Slurs”

  1. Carl Watkins Says:

    Movies will have negative reviews, it’s just the fact that has to be accepted when we deal in the realm of opinion. I think the thing that jumps out the most is the fact that White consistently pans movies that are generally well received. Further more, he will even go as far as provoke fans of the movies he dislikes. After he gave a negative review to Toy Story 3 and received a lot of heat for it, he went on to bring up Toy Story 3 multiple times in other reviews in what I can only assume was a feeble attempt to get a reaction.

    Like I said on twitter, Ahmed White is nothing more than the real world equivalent of an internet troll. The fact that anyone really takes him seriously is kind of amusing. It’s also kind of amusing that anyone cares what a critic thinks of a movie they enjoyed.

    Them the breaks I reckon.

    Like

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