The intersection of film and social media in the media

I’ve found four articles online concerning how social media affects the film industry and, specifically, film criticism, that I find interesting and enlightening. Let’s get into it.

1. ‘Star Wars: Last Jedi’ review scores manipulated by angry fans: Report by Kim Renfro of INSIDER. This is a news article reporting on the event that occurred around the release of the film STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI. As Renfro writes in the article, some angry fans collectively and maliciously attacked the film’s Rotten Tomatoes score, even creating hundreds of bots to write false negative reviews of it in order to drag down its score, proudly admitting this fact on various social media sites. They’ve gone so far as to create petitions to remove it from the greater STAR WARS canon. There is no opinion here, this is fact as admitted by the instigators themselves and investigated by INSIDER.

2. Social Media is changing how quickly we talk about movies, but not what we say by Sonny Bunch for The Washington Post. This is an opinion piece by Bunch discussing how social media has changed the landscape of film criticism in fundamental ways (such as the speed in which reviews and opinions can be shared and turned into clicks that can make or break a film’s success) but the very need for that speed and those clicks means that the criticism itself and the conversations around it aren’t any more enlightened – or ignorant than they have ever been. The writer quotes several critics on both sides of the argument, but there is no real consensus – which is kind of the point.

3. The Death of the Movie Critic by Daniel Harlow for Film Threat. This piece – which I would classify as news – investigates the data from a survey of 750 film journalists conducted investigating, among other things, how connected and intertwined the declining industries of independent film and film journalism are. The article reports on the specific results of several questions that were posed to these film journalists about their industry and how it is being affected by declining independent film audiences and by social media.

4. Studios Are Right: Rotten Tomatoes Has Ruined Film Criticism by Tom Brueggemann for IndieWire. This article by Brueggemann is an opinion piece diving into how major film studios view the review site as having an “unchecked power” to ensure a film’s success or failure, but as the box-office analyst at IndieWire, his issue with Rotten Tomatoes lies in the “degradation of the critical process” he sees them support with the way their ratings system works. There is no more conversation around the film, just the binary of “good” or “bad” divorced from the intellectual study of film. He makes a fair point about the methodology they employ being skewed toward the negative, with a film needing 60% “critic” (in this case, largely audience) approval or it is labeled as “rotten.” And bad news travels faster and wider than good news. As it happens I agree with his views and his reasoning, but it remains firmly in the camp of opinion.