Rotten Tomatoes Added Over 200 Critics To Boost Minority Representation, Plus Podcast Reviewers
It’s no news that white film critics and male film critics – and most often, critics who fit into both of those groups – are in the majority when it comes entertainment journalism. When you go to Rotten Tomatoes to check the score and latest reviews on a new release, you probably see more white dudes than you see women and/or critics of color. According to a USC study, only 22 percent of the reviews for the 100 top grossing movies of 2017 on Rotten Tomatoes were written by female critics, and only 18 percent were penned by critics belonging to underrepresented racial/ethnic backgrounds. Not great! But luckily Rotten Tomatoes is trying to change those numbers.
On Tuesday, the film and TV review aggregation website announced they have added over 200 new Tomatometer-approved critics – those are the critics whose reviews contribute to a film’s overall score and help determine if something is “Rotten” or “Fresh.” (Full disclosure: I’m a Tomatometer-approved critic.) Of those 200 new critics, the site plans to spotlight many of the newest female critics and critics of color, and a few are currently featured on the new page. Many of these new additions are a result of Rotten Tomatoes also changing their criteria, as reported by The New York Times.
The aggregation site previously had pretty strict standards for which critics and publications were eligible for the Tomatometer, ones that emphasized the size of an outlet and print circulation. For example, if you were an online critic, you needed to have published at least 100 reviews for two years at a site that had a minimum of 500,000 unique monthly visitors. That made it pretty tough for non-print critics and freelance critics, and especially those who wrote for smaller websites, to join Rotten Tomatoes.
But this doesn’t mean just anyone with a movie blog can join though. Online critics still need to have “consistent output for a minimum of two years” to be eligible. And the most interesting development? People who review movies and TV exclusively for podcasts can become Tomatometer-approved. Paul Yanover, the president of Fandango, which owns Rotten Tomatoes, told the Times that the site is “still looking for the highest quality criticism.” He added that more voices only make for a better product. “This is about editing in, not editing out,” he said, noting no one who was initially eligible will be removed.
Even further committed to helping elevate the perspectives of diverse critics, Rotten Tomatoes announced a $100,000 grant program to help pay for critics to attend film festivals. This follows recent initiatives by both the Sundance and Toronto film festivals pledging to give access to underrepresented critics. Hopefully this means an even wider array of perspectives will be heard, and not just on films relating to their identities, but on all types of films.