There are some big changes coming to Rotten Tomatoes, as the long-running review aggregation site has added a group of over 200 Tomatometer-approved critics, and revamped its criteria for approved critics and publications, per THR.
The move follows a growing conversation about shaking up the white male-dominated world of film criticism, with supporters like actress Brie Larson speaking out about the need for film festivals and other institutions to invite critics from underrepresented backgrounds, including women and people of color.
“We’ve already identified more diverse voices,” said Jenny Jediny, the critics relations manager at Rotten Tomatoes, who spearheaded the changes.
About 70 percent of the new group, which includes over 200 critics, is composed of women, compared to the existing pool, which currently features 60 percent male critics.
“Advancing inclusion in criticism continues to be a priority for Rotten Tomatoes and we plan to expand our work with media outlets that hire critics, film festivals and other groups, so as an industry we can better serve consumers,” said Paul Yanover, the president of Fandango, which purchased the site two years ago.
The new criteria also expands the type of outlets that are counted on the site, moving from major print and broadcast platforms to “newer media platforms, such as podcasts and digital video series with a strong social media presence and audience engagement.”
The new criteria sets a minimum of 30,000 subscribers for video services on the site, though exceptions will be made “on a case by case basis” for critics reaching underrepresented groups.
The post announcing the update on Rotten Tomatoes also references the rise of “new kinds of critics” who are working freelance, or developing their own sites and publications in a landscape where “traditional full-time arts journalism jobs, let alone full-time working critics, are a rarity,” and traditional media outlets continue to face a shrinking audience and budget cuts.
“Many of these voices went unheard when traditional media was at its dominant prime, and too many still go unheard today,” the article notes.
The changes won’t affect the metrics by which the site calculates its all-too-important critical Tomatometer scores, but perhaps the new additions will be enough to shift the consensus on films by artists from underrepresented backgrounds. And while it’s unfortunate that a film’s Rotten Tomatoes score often matters more to a film’s success than the actual analysis of the critics writing about it, this at least seems like a big step ahead in the media climate we have right now.
Hopefully, this also leads Rotten Tomatoes to tackle other issues, like its well-known problem with targeted audience score rigging, including recent examples like Ryan Coogler’s acclaimed Black Panther.
Read the updated Rotten Tomatoes critics criteria here.