“Aren’t you a movie critic?” you ask.

Yes, and you shouldn’t trust me, either.

I enjoy watching movies, and thinking about them, and analyzing them, but I’m just one person. Not to turn this in to a discussion of the role of the Author, the role of the Audience, of different schools of critical theory, but we all bring our own experiences and expectations to any piece of art, and no two people will experience it the same way. I discuss movies in a way that’s important to me, and I hope is interesting to other people. But that is also why I don’t use a ratings system. Too many variables.

Recently, I mentioned wanting to watch Paisa Vasool (2004), but I was worried about “Ron Ahluwalia from Planet Bollywood gave the film 2.5/10” and “Apunkachoice gave the film 3/5” (Wikipedia). I liked the movie a lot and will be writing about it soon. But that’s the trouble, most film critics are men, so they like movies that cater to them, even though that’s most movies.

One could argue that a truly good movie should appeal to anyone — that’s why we don’t have child critics for children’s films. But critics largely fall in to the same demographics, so how can the audience gain a complete understanding of the film? Especially given that women are taught to empathize and identify with men/male characters, but men generally are not.

Most of the following discussion will focus on Hollywood; I apologize.

“[A] recent report from the USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative, which found that 77.8 percent of all [American] critics are men, based on reviews of the top 100 films at the 2017 box office from Rotten Tomatoes” (Zauzmer, 2018, Washington Post). Seventy-seven percent! In general, movies that women like tend to get low ratings/scores from men. If you have limited time and money to see a film in the theater, you’re more likely to see the sure bet, and then catch the woman’s movie on DVD, Netflix, etc.

I looked at scores for movies my friends and I love:

The Heat (2013) Critics: 65/100, Audience: 71/100

Imagine Me & You (2006) Critics: 33/100, Audience: 74/100

Miss Congeniality (2000) Critics: 42/100, Audience: 69/100

Waiting to Exhale (1995) Critics: 56/100, Audience: 79/100

Drop Dead Gorgeous (1999) Critics: 45/100 Audience: 75/100

Twilight (2008) Critics: 49/100 Audience 72/100

HMMMMMMMM.

Twilight was the seventh highest grossing film in the US in 2008.

Critics and reviewers certainly provide a useful service. They help us decide where to spend our money and time. They provide new ways to think about art. But as with so many professions and roles, we need more voices, additional conversations. If nothing else, watching and writing about films has made me realize that as a woman, I am always left wanting more.

Posted by Natasha

Natasha received her MA in Literature and Culture in 2008 from Oregon State University. Currently she lives in Oregon with her husband and cats.

One Comment

  1. […] It pains me to say it, but clearly this movie was not for me. Which is why you can’t trust movie critics.  […]

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