Women still have a hard time gaining traction behind the camera in Hollywood (no thanks to these paleolithic attitudes), a statistical fact underscored by a new study confirming some of your naggiest of nagging suspicions about the phallocentric film criticism dominating the splattered tomato viscera at Rotten Tomatoes: film criticism has become even more male-dominated in recent years, which means that male writers and directors are getting more exposure for their work than women.
The survey of Rotten Tomatoes critics comes via a study called “Gender @ the Movies,” which found that Internet movie criticism is even more male-dominated now than it was six years ago. How much more male-dominated? According to The Wrap, the gap between male and female critics is pretty enormous:
The study tracked review activity by top Rotten Tomatoes critics this spring and found that top male critics wrote 82% of film reviews featured on the aggregator site during a two-month period, with top female critics accounting for less than 20%. By comparison, men wrote 70% of reviews for the top 100 U.S. daily newspapers in 2007.
In a report accompanying the study’s findings, Martha Lauzen, executive director of the Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film, further explained that the unbalanced ratio of male-to-female critics means that male writers and directors are receiving more attention for their work than their female counterparts. However, although the perception that a gender bias does exist in film criticism seems pretty self evident, the study’s analysis of more than 2,000 reviews didn’t really speak to a persistent gender bias in film criticism. Women may have been more likely to gravitate to movies written and directed by women, but the study didn’t find evidence of a gender bias towards individual filmmakers, concluding,
neither male nor female critics award substantially higher ratings to films directed and/or written by those of their same sex.
Still, film criticism is, according to the study, a “predominantly male activity,” especially at entertainment magazines and websites like Entertainment Weekly, “which tilted 91% to men and 80% men at general interest magazines and sites.” More “traditional” media outlets offered a (slightly) brighter picture for female critics, with 28 percent of newspaper critics and 30 percent of radio critics being women.
Image via AP, Richard Drew