Rotten Tomatoes Dangerously Removes Thought From Criticism

Thought and Analysis
Thought and Analysis Disney-ABC

As a film critic, I find the time I spend defending Rotten Tomatoes and violently censuring it is about even. Practically speaking, a site that features a large array of reviews from various publications all one in place, summated in a little convenient number at the top of its front page, isn’t in and of itself a bad thing. However, the launch of Rotten Tomatoes’ new weekly online series, titled See It/Skip It, feels like a bad omen. The series features two smiley film enthusiasts that discuss a movie, whether the movie is worth seeing or skipping, and in the case of the recently released Justice League, unveil the Rotten Tomatoes score earned by said film like some second rate game show.

For shame. Criticism is a credible literary art form. At it’s most scathing, at its most theatrical, it is meant to be a recommendation, not a sport. And for See It/Skip It to reveal an aggregate score at the end of the episode tells you nothing about how you might feel about a particular film. Are you so comfortable taking comfort in the majority? Incidentally, I was not amongst the 37 percent of critics that gave Justice League a favorable review, but that isn’t to say I haven’t found myself in that sort of minority countless times in the past.

Precision of language is so important, especially in the world of criticism. This indulgence in this vague aggregated number, plastered on posters, prancing around in trailers, and now the star of its very own web series, is absolutely detrimental to analysis and thought.

Long gone are the days of scanning through the Times to find a critic that knew how to turn a phrase with a sense of humor, and most importantly, possessed an intimate and competent knowledge of the language of cinema.

Justice League is not a very good picture, but I admire the process of both filmmaking and criticism enough to not only take euphemistic percentages with a grain of salt, but also take the appropriate time to pen up a thoughtful cogent review if I am asked for one. We’ve been liberated from the penalty of thought crimes ages ago, it’s time we start acting like it.

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