In a truly jaw-dropping but ultimately positive move, Rotten Tomatoes has added 600 approved critics to its community. This is further proof that the site’s push to add more diverse voices, which began one year ago, is a serious one they are still committed to fulfilling.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Rotten Tomatoes’ 600 recently-added critics make up an exciting new class. The majority of the group (55%) are women. Additionally, 60% of the critics identify as freelancers and 10% publish reviews on important but atypical platforms, like YouTube and podcasts. Rotten Tomatoes is also pushing to add more critics of color. All told, there are now nearly 5,000 critics approved by Rotten Tomatoes who are able to post on the site.
Paul Yanover, the president of Rotten Tomatoes’ parent company Fandango, noted in a statement, “There’s still lots to do, but we’ve learned a lot.” He added that Rotten Tomatoes is committing another $100,000 in grant money to “support various industry initiatives fostering inclusion in criticism, such as covering travel film festivals,” per THR’s notes.
This is a huge, huge step forward in ensuring the critical film community is more accurately accounted for online. Love it or hate it, Rotten Tomatoes is a site with serious pull. It offers flashpoint criticisms that can help give digestible insights on any given film. This lets prospective moviegoers decide where they might want to spend their dollars depending on those reviews. Removing barriers to entry such as needing to be connected to a certain publication means women and critics of color out here hustling to make their opinions heard through any medium necessary will be recognized on this site with is a go-to source for so many people.
The number of critics now involved in the new class at Rotten Tomatoes, especially those who freelance for various sites and have to fight even harder to access screenings or get reviews published merely because they’re not linked to a publication, will hopefully see boosts in their reach to the public. The number of visitors Rotten Tomatoes gets each day undoubtedly offers an opportunity to these female critics, critics of color, and those publishing reviews in venues like YouTube or podcasts to be discovered, heard, and considered.
Rotten Tomatoes beefing up their pool of critics is especially important as we look to the future of film. This year alone we’ve had plenty of movies that would have benefitted from the more diverse pool of critics who are about to get their reviews seen on Rotten Tomatoes. Genres like horror and action have produced big box office earners like Us, Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw, and Captain Marvel as well as surprise hits that have dominated theaters and critical conversation, like the indie charmer The Farewell. This sample group of films boasts notable actresses in lead roles who come from different backgrounds and whose roles potentially represent different things to different critics. Sure, it’s not as if non-white, non-male critics reviewing these movies (among others) haven’t published reviews and reactions to these films throughout the year; they have. But bringing them on to a platform like Rotten Tomatoes could have more greatly affected the discourse outside the frequently insular film community. We need these reviews to be heard by everyone.
The need for a more high-profile site to publish a more diverse range of voices is especially critical when you consider Marvel Studios, who dominate the conversation more and more with each passing day. There, they’re actively hiring more female directors to helm projects like Black Widow and Eternals, the latter of which boasts one of the most diverse casts the studio has ever put together. The need to have a similarly diverse critical pool that can access, analyze, and review these films for public consumption is essential. If we want a more nuanced and accurate public discourse around movies, we should have the chance to read various critical viewpoints. This is now a reality at Rotten Tomatoes.
I urge you to see this newest push from Rotten Tomatoes as a help, not a hindrance, to the critical community. But if you happen to see a non-white or non-male critic’s review on the site and feel some type of negative way about it, just remember scrolling is free and you’ll probably land on a review written by someone you identify with sooner or later.