Is the “fanboy blogosphere” and online review aggregator sites such as Rotten Tomatoes forcing individual film criticism into extinction?
There is growing concern within the world of film journalism that review aggregator sites such as Rotten Tomatoes are forcing individual film criticism into extinction. Since the very nature of such sites is to tabulate a percentage based on perceived positive or negative reviews, the actual critique is typically lost except for a single line quote from the author.
Rotten Tomatoes editor-in-chief, Matt Atchity, rejects this proposition,
“I understand it and I know there are people who just read the number,” he says. “But ultimately, I think that we do good by exposing readers and users to criticism that they wouldn’t otherwise have access to. We hope the Tomatometer is a launching point for a larger read of critics.”
Also of concern is the proliferation of critics that belong to the tightly associated so-called fanboy blogosphere. Sites such as Aint it Cool News, Cinematical & JoBlo are perceived to have markedly different values than many more seasoned critics who began their careers in print publications. This apparent discrepancy is evinced when considering the difference between the overall Tomato Score and the Top Critics Score.
Armond White, critic for the New York Press, is the most outspoken critic of the blogosphere considering the increasingly vocal community to be the representative of a scourge of anti-intellectualism in the field of film journalism.
While claims of anti-intellectualism may be blown out of proportion, it is apparent that both kinds of critics have a strong influence on the ratings on the site. In many cases the fresh or rotten ratings have the potential to increase the significance or popularity of different kinds of films whether they be Hollywood fare or more inaccessible art house cinema.