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Film critics speaking as one

Healthy Tomatoes? The Danger of Film Critics Speaking as One

The article talks about the diminishing of critic influence over time and how the influence has slowly recovered over summer. However, the author deems this recovery bad because it results in critics and audiences completely shunning movies too quickly. For example, they use three films : “Pirates” , “Alien”, and “The Dark Tower” which all got bad reviews with audiences agreeing with those reviews and berating the movies.

He then goes on to talk about how the rating of a movie on Rotten Tomatoes will only be able to affect the audience and convey information if there is a high enough percentage of agreement between all the critics. This means that if you don’t agree with the other critics, you are actually hurting the cause by making the other critics’ opinions seem less trustworthy and makes them lose visibility and influence. This built-in dynamic causes anyone who has a different opinion to be “put on trial” if they voice that opinion. The author concludes that the slow transformation of film criticism has made critics conformists and has resulted in film reviews being abnormally high or abnormally low, and tending towards extremes rather than reflecting how good the movie actually was.

This movie criticism phenomenon actually ties into information cascades discussed in class. We can compare the general movie review, being either good or bad, and it would be the same as a signal in an information cascade. Our audience, can then choose whether to accept this signal or reject it. Since the audience can see all the reviews as well as determine how many people are attending with box office reports, it results in the dynamic of extremity, much like what we observed in the case of modern weddings versus older ones. Having access to so much information, creates a cascade that can influence everyone in one particular direction.

The article also addresses the percent ratings of the reviews which would be similar to a network that the audience would have access to. They can then base their actions on the fraction of critics who liked their reviews which means that a more cohesive body of critics can influence many more members of the audience who will decide whether to watch the movie or not. According to the author however, these networks are biased towards one direction because the critics ridicule differing opinions.


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