On the Need for Female Reviewers

Alone in the desert

I’ve tried several times to leave comments on posts such as the most recent “Why It Matters That Male Film Critics Vastly Outnumber Female Film Critics” at Bitch Media. The remarks never seem to make it into the comments. My comments are rather lengthy, too. I decided to follow the rule of my friend Elisa Camahort Page and make my lengthy comments on female reviewers into a post on the topic.

I always knew how hard it was to find a review of a film or TV show written by a woman. When I search through reviews on Rotten Tomatoes or IMDB, I always scan (mostly in vain) for female critic names.

I knew I disagreed with most critics. My lifelong feeling is that if the critics hated it, I would probably love it. If the critics loved it, I would probably hate it. Over the years, I realized it was because most critics are men.

The first time anyone brought this disparity up in a newsworthy way was when Meryl Streep mentioned it. “Meryl Streep Rips Rotten Tomatoes for ‘Infuriating’ Lack of Female Critics” at The Wrap was one of many reports on her comments.

Meryl inspired me to try to add my reviews to Rotten Tomatoes and IMDB. I found it possible on IMDB. I’ve been adding links to reviews there regularly, thanks to Meryl.

On Rotten Tomatoes, it is impossible for someone like me to contribute as a reviewer. Yes, anyone can leave a review as a user. But when you leave a review as an ordinary movie-goer, you cannot leave a link to your website.

To get that prized, traffic-driving link to the full review on your own website from Rotten Tomatoes you have to pass this bar.

Movie reviews in the Tomatometer come from publications or individual critics that have been selected by the Rotten Tomatoes staff. The criteria for inclusion for both publications and critics are separated across three divisions; print, broadcast, and online, each with its own criteria for Tomatometer inclusion.
. . .
Online publications must achieve and maintain a minimum 500,000 unique monthly visitors according to comScore, Inc or Nielsen Net Ratings and reviews must have an average length of at least 300 words. Publications must also show a consistent standard of professionalism, writing quality, and editorial integrity across all reviews and articles. Lastly, site design and layout should also reflect a reasonable level of quality and must have a domain name specific to the property.

Old Ain’t Dead doesn’t come anywhere near 500,000 unique monthly visitors. You can judge the professionalism, writing quality, and editorial integrity for yourself.

Defining Terms

A time out to define terms is in order. I’m not a critic. I’m not writing film criticism. Nobody pays me to go film festivals, watch everything, and write about it. Nobody pays me to have a background in film history and know all the nuances of every director’s career and how the current film compares with previous films.

I’m a blogger. I’m watching what I want when it looks worth my time to watch. I’m writing reviews, which are nothing but my untrained opinion. (I refer you to my blog’s About page.) The reason I’m talking about how my untrained opinion might be of interest is because I’m a woman.

The Blogger Dilemma

From the point of view of Rotten Tomatoes, I’m nobody. I may be spending my few precious dollars at the multiplex, I may be turning on my television at night, but I’m still nobody. I can comment and rate on Rotten Tomatoes as a nobody. Lots of people do.

I read comments by those nobodies at Rotten Tomatoes. I do. Because they are more diverse than the opinions of the critics. However, should I want to let readers at Rotten Tomatoes who agree with my perspective know I have many more reviews on my blog, I can’t do it.

There are many other blogging nobodies out here. Watching, writing, sharing. I see them in my WordPress Reader feed. I see them in my Facebook Pages feed. I see them in my Twitter feed. I read their reviews. I often share a link to their reviews in support. Somebody has to support their voices. Somebody has to cheer at their parade. I appreciate it when someone does it for me, so I do it for others.

Nobodies are Hard to Find

It’s hard to find the nobodies. No one promotes us. No one encourages us. No one notices what we have to say. That’s where the female reviewers are: out in Nobodyville. Definitely not on Rotten Tomatoes.

If you want to hear women’s voices on the media, start looking for the nobodies.

Image credit: Alone in the desert via Flickr

2 thoughts on “On the Need for Female Reviewers”

  1. Patricia Cericola

    Agree with you … but would still like to see female reviewers who are somebody (in addition to the nobodies 🙂

    1. There are some well known publications with female film critics. How about this list? 15 Great Female Film Critics You Ought to Be Reading http://flavorwire.com/393701/15-great-female-film-critics-you-ought-to-be-reading. I don’t know how many of these publications bother with Rotten Tomatoes.

      The big names, like Pauline Kael, seem to be a thing of the past.

      The percentage of women’s voices being heard is very low compared with male voices. That’s the problem.

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