Donald Clarke

Whingeing about cinema and real life since 2009

Suicide Squad fans launch petition for the closure of Rotten Tomatoes

Furious at negative reviews on the aggregator site, some lunatics have taken to change.org.

Wed, Aug 3, 2016, 21:20

   

This is properly hilarious. As readers of this “blog” will surely be aware, the latest film in the DC Extended Universe, Suicide Squad, has just received a mighty kicking from the critics. The reviews were not, perhaps, as harsh as those for Batman Vs Superman, but the folk at Warner Brothers, DC’s partners, will now be thinking nostalgically back to the merely lukewarm response that greeted Man of Steel in 2013. In previous decades, the kickback would be contained within angry huddles outside cinemas. These days, full-on conspiracy theories spring up within minutes.

There exists a taut minority of comic-book fans and franchise fanatics who believe that film studios pay critics to vote in particular ways. Since the nerdosphere is usually annoyed by negative reviews, the theories most often suggest that some rival company is buying us cabin cruisers to get us to talk down their rivals. Occasionally the notions swing in the opposite direction. During the pathetic furore over Ghostbusters, nutcases were arguing that Sony had bribed their way to positive notices. How else could a “FemiNazi” remake of “a 1980s classic” make so many people so happy? You remember how this went. This week we are back in more familiar territory as fans of Suicide Squad suggest that Disney, which owns Marvel Studios, has been forking out to drive down the score. Slightly less barmy people claim a mere aesthetic bias for Disney and against DC among critics.

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All of which brings us back to Rotten Tomatoes. For close to 20 years that site has been aggregating reviews from critics around the planet. The Irish Times joins our fellow newspapers and websites in contributing toward a percentage rating that tells us whether a film has been deemed “rotten” or “fresh”. It’s a bit crude and shouldn’t be taken too seriously, but, like the slightly more nuanced Metacritic, the site does give a sense of which way the critical wind is blowing. It’s worth pressing home what happens here. Rotten Tomatoes does not review films; it aggregates reviews from distinct publications. To blame the organisation for a film getting an unimpressive percentage would be like banning the electoral officer for your preferred party losing an election. They merely count the votes. At time of writing, Suicide Squad has a fairly pathetic 33%.

None of this stopped one Abdullah Coldwater from starting an unintentionally hilarious petition on change.org. It runs as follows: “We need this site to be shut down because It’s [sic] Critics always give The DC Extended Universe movies unjust Bad Reviews, Like 1- Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice 2016 2- Suicide Squad 2016 and that Affects people’s opinion even if it’s a really great movies [sic].”

Almost immediately my man Drew Morton signed on to post the following:

Drew is more or less right. Time Warner does indeed own 30% of Rotten Tomatoes. With that in mind, the fact that they continue to publish negative ratings of DC films speaks to Rotten Tomatoes’ integrity. The site should be an example to us all. I also greatly enjoyed Babyfarts Mcgee’s remark: “Me stupid. me not understand site is aggregate not movie-reviewer.”

Amusing as these satirical remarks are, they were not nearly so funny as the sincerely meant comments. Don’t go anywhere near the petition if you have a work deadline. The hilarious stupidity will eat up hours of your day. “Im signing cause enough is enough with Rotten Tomatoes, There unfairly Give films Rotten scores just for the hell of it & The sad thing is that people give value to this shitty site,” Joseph from Georgia tells us. “There” don’t give the film any sort of scores, Joe. It’s not a review site.

Will from Missouri says: “If you are constantly giving rating scores wildly out of sync with audience ratings you are doing a disservice to your costumers and needlessly harming movies people enjoy I don’t want you shut down just stop being so dishonest.” I quite like the idea that Rotten Tomatoes has an obligation to its “costumers”. It is a very well-dressed site, obviously.

We had just wiped our eyes and pulled our sides together when we noticed that a Twitter account and hashtag had popped up to extend the lunacy. Crush the Tomato (search for #crushthetomato) represents all those annoyed at the awful tyranny explained above. The Twitter account laid out its stall as follows:

Within hours the hashtag was awash with outraged comics nerds shouting about corruption in film reviewing (this is all getting a bit GamerGate, isn’t it?). Actually, I have just made that up. A large portion of the people following Crush the Tomato seem to be Irish film critics who had been alerted to the amusing account by this writer. The hashtag is used almost exclusively by people who find the campaign inconceivably hilarious. That said, the comments beneath the petition are overwhelmingly serious and, at time of writing, they were close to getting the 15,000 supporters they need to… Well, what exactly? The affair is beyond ludicrous and there is no possibility of Rotten Tomatoes reaching for the pearl-handled revolver.

Let me try another analogy. This is like petitioning for the abolition of weathermen because it rained all summer. The film is no good. Learn to live with that.

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