Study: Men Also Dominate the World of Film Criticism

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The majority of critics in the film industry are male, according to new research that confirms what we’ve known to be true in our hearts.


For its study, San Diego University’s Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film analyzed 5,776 reviews and 247 critics on the ratings site Rotten Tomatoes in spring 2016 and determined that 73 percent of reviewers are male, while 27 percent are female.

Hollywood’s gender imbalance manifests itself not just in the way movies are made—and who appears in them, works on them and markets them—but in the ways they’re covered as well! Men are writing the majority of film reviews across various types of publications, including newspapers (71 percent male), entertainment trade (80 percent), general interest (76 percent) and entertainment mags/sites (74 percent). According to the study:

In contrast, women comprised 29% of individuals writing for newspapers, 26% of those writing for movie/entertainment magazines and websites, 24% of individuals writing for general interest magazines and websites, 22% of those writing for multiple sites, and 20% of individuals writing for trade publications.

Compared to the A.O. Scotts of the world, Variety notes that the amount of (white) female critics who’ve managed to gain credibility are few and far between (bold emphasis mine):

The New Yorker’s Pauline Kael (pictured) is arguably the most influential critic, and her brash, kinetic style influenced a legion of reviewers, with her so-called “Paulettes” including the likes of David Denby, David Edelstein and James Wolcott. And there continues to be several female writers at some of the highest profile posts, including the New York Times Manohla Dargis and Slate’s Dana Stevens. They remain, however, the exception to the rule.

The report also looked at how men and women are rating these movies and found that it’s pretty much on an equal scale. A bad movie is a bad movie and vice versa. Both men and women averaged a 66 percent rating for movies with a female lead, whereas:

Male and female writers differed slightly in their ratings of films featuring male protagonists only. Females awarded these films an average rating of 69% while males gave these films an average rating of 65%.


What we all know is that movies are dominated by dudes in terms of actors, directors, producers and the predominantly male writers who cover them.

The author of the study, Martha Lauzen, says, “It reflects the biases within the industry. This doesn’t exist in a vacuum. There are larger cultural biases at work and those favor males.”




For the Love of Movies: The Story of American Film Criticism

My favorite film critic was always Janet Maslin over at NYT. She still reviews books but has not reviewed a film in years. Her writing was acerbic, insightful and always on point. I miss her film reviews. Janet come back! If anyone wants to read a great book on cinema, and critical thinking on film read: For the Love of Movies: The Story of American Film Criticism