Like all things in the entertainment industry, film criticism is dominated by white men. Though not expressly set out to dethrone them, Rotten Tomatoes is making changes to its film review system that will allow new and diverse voices to get into the mix.
The aggregator known for dubbing movies either “fresh” or “rotten” long relied on reviews of critics from more official legacy publications or other written platforms. But times are changing, and few critics have full-time jobs at print publications. So, the company is opening up its ranks to reviews from podcasts and videos, as well as personal blogs, onto the site. It'll also be relaxing its critic certification process.
”Historically, critics were more heavily approved through publications. We’re shifting our focus to approve more critics individually to help freelance critics become more visible,” Jenny Jediny, the site’s critics relations manager, told EW in a new interview. “So in the past, if you only contributed to the Tomatometer based on a specific publication that was Tomatometer approved and you didn’t get an assignment, your stories wouldn’t appear on the Tomatometer. By individually approving more critics we’re hoping to make them more visible because there’s a chance they will have more clout wherever they publish.”
Since the change, over 200 new Tomatometer-approved critics have been added to the site. A more diverse critic pool could have a huge impact on films created by people of color and women. Often, a Rotten Tomatoes score could make or break a viewers decision to watch a film, and it’s been revealed that men are less likely to leave favorable reviews of women-directed movies. More representative reviews could mean more tangible, financial success for minority films, leading to, you guessed it, a proliferation of those kinds of movies and a more diverse film industry overall.
"By adding more platforms, like video critics and podcasts for the first time, I think that will be exciting for users already in tune with that. I think this will be a great way for them to discover new critics,” Jediny said.