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Study: Male film critics outnumber women two to one

Study: Male film critics outnumber women two to one
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The debate about whether film review aggregation behemoth Rotten Tomatoes is a force for good or evil in the industry has raged on for many years now. Is the website biased against certain genres and films? Are reviews that amount to ‘meh’ being lumped in with Fresh ones? For all the brouhaha about how the film review site distorts viewers’ perceptions, though, lately there has been more focus on whether bias exists among those who actually write the reviews.

As entertainment site The Wrap points out, a new study reveals that male film critics still greatly outnumber women, and this disparity helps keep more female-driven films from getting the same exposure as the latest Dwayne Johnson vehicle.

Conducted by San Diego State University’s Center for the Study of Women in TV and Film, the study found that in print, broadcast, and online outlets, male film critics outnumber female ones by approximately 2 to 1. The dataset was comprised of 4,111 reviews from 341 critics, writing across every type of media outlet aggregated by Rotten Tomatoes this past spring.

What this means is that the media narrative surrounding each film’s release is being shaped mostly by men. That’s a problem. While critics of all stripes might salute Greta Gerwig’s bravura auteur debut, Lady Bird, lower-profile female-centric films like Duck Butter, cowritten and starring Alia Shawkat, might have more of a chance with more diverse points of view on the beat.

Speaking of diversity, the study also revealed the following findings:

  • 83% of the female critics were white
  • 14% were minorities
  • 3% had unknown racial or ethnic identity
  • 82% of all male critics were white
  • 9% were minorities
  • 9% had unknown racial or ethnic identity

Perhaps as the film industry itself places greater faith in women and minorities, perhaps so too will the field of film reviewers.

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