There are approximately four times as many male critics as there are female critics reviewing movies on Rotten Tomatoes. The rating generated from these Rotten Tomatoes reviews for a particular movie impacts its box office performance, and ultimately impacts what movies get made. Does it really matter that Rotten Tomatoes is male dominated? Of course it does. Most ticket buyers are women and they should at least have a consensus of the critics that reflects somewhat the diversity of the buying public. But, if we rephrase the question to “Is a male dominated Rotten Tomatoes leading buyers to make movie choices that are male biased?”, it isn’t entirely clear. Might the professionalism of critics mitigate gender bias to some degree?
I’ve begun a study of male and female critics’ Rotten Tomatoes ratings. I began with Rotten Tomatoes’ Top 100 Romance Movies. It is a genre that is generally considered female-oriented. For this post I was only able to analyze the first 50 movies. These top 50 movies have 4,893 reviews attached to them and only 727, a mere 15.6%, are by female critics. Male critics rated these 50 movies 95.4% Fresh and female critics rated them 95.7% Fresh, a slightly higher rating by women but virtually identical.
When you review Rotten Tomatoes’ list, you’ll probably note that there are a number of movies that, while there is romance in the plot, wouldn’t be considered Romance movies, On the Waterfront and The Town for instance. I took a shot below at separating out Romance Comedy and Romance Drama as separate genres.
|# of Movies||# Fresh||# Rotten||% Fresh||# Fresh||# Rotten||% Fresh|
At first glance, Comedy Romance seems to break the possible conclusion that gender doesn’t matter, and that may be the case. If there were a male female split within the genre, the common perception might be that romantic comedies would be where you’re most apt to see it. We need to be careful with the conclusion that the Comedy Romance data proves the hypothesis that male and female critics review these movies differently. If just 3 female critics changed their ratings to Rotten, the result would be 96.5% Fresh, identical to the male critics.
For my next post I plan on adding movies 51 to 100 to the study. I’m not comfortable that there is enough data, so far, for the female critic results in the study to be credible enough to reach conclusions. I also think it would be interesting to take a look at a male-oriented genre, like Westerns, to see if the results hold the other way.
There is one conclusion that can’t be denied. If there is any difference between male and female critics, making up only 15% of the reviews stifles any real impact on the final Rotten Tomatoes rating.