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Study finds diversity in film criticism lacking

/ 10:51 AM September 08, 2018

A volunteer takes a photo of Kim Kirlew, of Toronto, in front of a festival sign on day 1 of the Toronto International Film Festival on Thursday, Sept. 6, 2018, in Toronto. (Invision via AP)

TORONTO — USC’s Annenberg Inclusion Initiative on Friday expanded on its previous findings regarding diversity in film criticism to give a more detailed look at what researchers conclude is a not level playing field for critics.

The study, the second in a three-part series, evaluated reviews posted by aggregator Rotten Tomatoes for the top 300 highest grossing films from 2015 through 2017. It found that 67.1 of the critics were male, 32.9 percent were female and that of critics with an “ascertainable” race or ethnicity, 23.2 percent were from minority groups while 76.8 percent were white.

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The USC researches suggested the race or gender of a critic can have an effect on their reviews. They found that women of color were more likely to rate a movie with a minority female lead “fresh” than white male critics, though researches expressed caution on those results due to small sample size.

According to the study, entertainment trade publications contained the lowest percentage of female “top” critics (10 percent of reviews) on Rotten Tomatoes. General news outlets fared the best with 34.6 percent of reviews written by female “top” critics.

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The center’s earlier studied analyzed more than 19,000 reviews of the 100 top-grossing films of 2017. It found that nearly 80 percent of critics were male, according to reviews compiled by Rotten Tomatoes.

In response to the researchers’ earlier study, the Toronto International Film Festival and the Sundance Film Festival have sought to diversify its press corps by inviting and paying the way for underrepresented critics and journalists. The currently running Toronto Film Festival has brought nearly 200 critics (approximately 20 percent of the festival press) to Toronto.

Rotten Tomatoes has since modified its review aggregation to include a wider pool of critics.

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TAGS: Film, film criticism, film review
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