Editorial

September 18, 2017
 

Can We Stop with the Damn ‘Rotten Tomatoes’ Outrage?!

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Written by: David Baruffi
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Oh, for the love of God, why am I still reading about this? Seems like every godd**n week, I see a new article from somebody trying to figure out the ‘Rotten Tomatoes‘ phenomenon or whatever new phenomenon or faux-outrage or whatever bullsh*t about it there is… Here’s one from Vox.com a few days ago. Here’s one from Wired.com a couple months ago. Here’s one from TVOvermind.com. Here’s one from TheRinger.com. Here’s one from the god**nn New York F**king Times! Here’s an episode of “What the Flick” doing a whole Youtube segment on the New York Times article! And here’s another one from VARIETY, yes that Variety, about how Rotten Tomatoes doesn’t influence box office. (Sigh) Some of those are from last week; here’s an infamous one that I wrote last year!!!!!!!

Which amazes me in that that’s the only specific one blogpost until now that I wrote on Rotten Tomatoes, and that wasn’t even about the website itself. That was the idiot “fans” who petitioned to have it shut down, but it sure seems like I’ve spent the last couple years writing about the site periodically. but no, I’ve just been reading about it most of the time, and discussed it only at the fringes of my articles, and not something I directly write about most of the time. Almost all of these other ones above and several, several others out there however, seem to be trying to get to some, conclusion or observant viewpoint about the damn site and how we as a movie-going public “react” to it. Basically, how it can, alter what movies we see, or how it has absolutely no effect at all, depending on whatever article you happen to be reading at the time, or whatever movie release it’s talking about at the moment.

What it all means; how did we all get here? How can one website have so much power over the movies that we see or why does it have power? Oh my GOD! SHUT UP! UGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHHHHHH! Look, I’m just gonna assume that you, the readers, are smart enough to know at this point, why Rotten Tomatoes is fine, and people who try to complain about it are either delusional, moronic, stupid, or worst than all of those things, fans. But the phenomenon of people wondering how reviewers can influence our box office, or how much/little we watch a movie,- Guys, what the hell? Seriously? Is it just that now, there’s a simple, percentage involved that you’re suddenly noticing that, gasp! “Oh my God, movies that get bad reviews, sometimes get bad box office!? Or that good reviews, can propel more box office? (Faux Blanche Devereaux accent) Oh, my sweet stars, what has this world come to, where people are trusting the opinion of people who are professional at criticizing movies for a liv-ing?!”

(Sigh) Let me show you guys something….

Okay, now I bet you’re wondering why I’m showing you this old episode of ‘Siskel & Ebert‘, well, I have two reasons. One, is that the subject of the episode is 1989 Oscar nomination surprises, something they did occasionally, devote a whole episode to surprises when it came to the Oscar nominations. But this episode in particular, they bring up some points about the Oscars, and the main discussion point is basically this: the critics were not being listened to enough when it came to the Oscars, and for that matter, they also mention, neither were the public. Yeah, you ever look back at the Oscars around the late eighties for a few years and notice that the Academy’s choices at that time period, were a little odd? Well, they might’ve been; there was a run at that point where the constant refrain was the exact opposite, that the critical response from the critics wasn’t being listened to. And on top of that, the public response, wasn’t being listened to either, but I don’t care about that, but more importantly, it was the exact opposite response that people are complaining about now. These days, they’re complaining that critics have too much power, but back then, their voice wasn’t being heard or recognized. There was, at least perception-wise this notion for awhile that Hollywood was pushing the films that had those supposed “Oscar Movie Attributes” moreso than say the actual best pictures of the year. I don’t buy that argument for a second, although there are years where it certainly upon reflection feels like it. Does anybody remember 1989 and think, “That’s the year ‘Driving Miss Daisy‘ came out and won Best Picture?” Yeah, I don’t think so.

So, on that level, I don’t know what the fuss is about, critics, audiences, and media perception have always been at odds with each other, and it’s not just that a website is around now that that suddenly changes. And yeah, reviews can effect popular observations and they fucking should! Positively, negatively, agreeing, disagreeing, that’s what they’re for and what to do. And those who get upset about a % number not being what they think be should go scream into the wind as far as I’m concerned, but I’ve made no secret of that.

For those who haven’t been paying attention, for the last 19 years of Rotten Tomatoes – sure, maybe this damn thing came out of nowhere – and now you’re wondering, “Wait, what’s a critic score?!”, maybe that’s concerning to you, but, look-, you want to know why Rotten Tomatoes is the supposed main thing? Well, I can think of one actual reason that strangely most of these articles, (Most, not all, some did) ironically haven’t brought up, even though it’s easily the biggest reason for their rise to prominence! (points up to the video) Yeah, them. ‘Siskel & Ebert’ isn’t on TV anymore.

Yeah, where were these complaints when they were getting things like ‘Hoop Dreams‘ and ‘Pulp Fiction‘ out into the mainstream? Or when they were calling out something as crap? You see, when I say that movie critics have always been around and reaction to them has always been around, that’s not me BSing – it has been around. And there’s always been a few top critics, that were more looked upon for their opinion than others. This can go back to the days of Pauline Kael and people like that, but for me and everybody else in my generation it was either ‘Siskel & Ebert’, and then it was of course ‘Ebert & Roeper’, and more than all of them, it was their television show(s) that were the epicenter of the criticism world as well as the film world in general, and anybody that says otherwise can trip over their tongue trying to explain how 97 on RT is that different then “Two Thumbs Up”, other than the fact that there’s more thumbs and tomatoes involved.

In 2007, Roger Ebert was named America’s Most Trusted Pundit, and that was after the throat cancer that robbed him of his voice, and forced him to leave his long-running television series, and don’t think anybody who wasn’t around back then, didn’t constantly check rogerebert.com for his latest reviews and posts; I sure as hell did, and was by no means alone. He was the top, and I seriously doubt most of the rest of the country would’ve been able to name more than four other living film critics at that time. And he was still influential at that time. I doubt ‘Crash‘ would’ve caught on without him or ‘Monster‘ for that matter, or ‘Juno‘ or ‘The Tree of Life‘ even. After he passed away, ‘At the Movies‘ and the few attempts to revive the series’ format on television stumbled to a sad passing, that meant that there wasn’t anymore nationally recognizable brand outlets around for everybody to seek out critical reviews, for people who searched out the top film criticism. So, they went and searched for it somewhere else……

And sure, I’d rather maybe say a competitor of Rotten Tomatoes like the more industry-preferred MetaCritic, would’ve become the big one (And there’s more competitors to Rotten Tomatoes than you think by the way, there’s like seven copycat sites out there that I’m aware of), or for that matter an internet series like the one I consider easily the only one that’s worth watching regularly ‘What the Flick’, or that perhaps something else had come around, but it didn’t. Rotten Tomatoes had been around, had a reputation, everybody knew the formula they used, and didn’t freak out about the math! They accepted it, understood it, and appreciated their ability to give us easy availability to all the major critics around the country, so, it became Rotten Tomatoes. It had a good name, a good formula, a credible reputation inside and outside the industry… the percentage score is not as clever as the thumbs, but those are trademarked so this is what we got. It’s simple economics people. The service was lacking, they provided the service, they were already our second choice, our first choice left, they became number one. Those treating this “revelation”, that audiences sometimes seek out the advice of professional film critics and it effects what they see and how they react…- yeah, this isn’t new, this isn’t shocking. It’s always been this way! It’s just that, in the internet age, everybody can talk about it and so now you all noticed, but…. I don’t know, then you all wrote a think piece on it. And sure, I did too, because, yeah, the amount of idiots were aware of this is shocking, but still, this is getting ridiculously out-of-hand, and it needs to stop.



About the Author

David Baruffi
David Baruffi
David Baruffi has been a successful unemployed screenwriter for, let's be vague and call it "years". He's got a B.A. in Film Studies from UNLV, is a certified script supervisor and has done a little bit of everything in film, but mostly is a writer. Personally on his own blog "David Baruffi's Entertainment Views and Reviews" which is at www.davidbaruffi.blogspot.com,and professionally has written several scripts and stories, for himself, and for others and as a ghostwriter. When he's not doing that he watches his autistic brother most days and he looks like two old puppets.



 
 

 

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