CherryPicks: Can A Cherry Smash The Rotten Tomatoes Patriarchy?

Gender representation and discrimination in the cinema industry has been a hot topic over the last few years. Not many are aware that gender bias, however, appears to be common in the industry that covers movies too.

“It is crucial to have gender parity at all links in the chain. A male critic is more likely to identify with male stories and to see women’s stories as different or other,” said actor and director Miranda Bailey and author Rebecca Odes, the masterminds behind CherryPicks, a new movie review aggregator whose content will be solely written by female critics.

According to a new study titled “Gender @ the Movies” reported by online magazine TheWrap, Rotten Tomatoes, the world’s most popular movie review aggregator, is not so refreshing in terms of gender representation. 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%. At the moment of writing, for a film like Avengers: Infinity War, whose score on the aggregator is 73%, female top critics are only two out of twelve.

The idea for CherryPicks, whose logo features a pair of juicy red cherries, grew out of Bailey’s experiences as a creator and distributor of films “from observing how a male point of view skewed the way media is perceived and reviewed”.

“The name is an alternative to fruit metaphors used in existing rating systems and also refers to the way the site and its reviewers will be picking and choosing what they feel is worth the audience’s time,” the creators added.

Not only critics will be able to register to submit reviews directly, but the website will also feature critics and aggregating reviews in a dedicated email newsletter, Cherry Bites, and on social platforms. Cherry Bites is published every other Wednesday and you can subscribe at cherrypicksreviews.com.

CherryPicks might look like the cherry on top of all the achievements of the Time’s Up movement, yet it might face a huge backlash. By publishing only women critics’ reviews, many argue that CherryPicks is doing deliberately what Rotten Tomatoes is doing allegedly.

Dana Benson, the vice president of communications for Fandango, the company that bought Rotten Tomatoes in 2016, said that “40% of Rotten Tomatoes’ active Tomatometer-approved critics are women”. An active critic is someone who has published a review within the past year.

Nonetheless, Bailey and Odes are resolute.

“The landscape has been drastically skewed for the entirety of media history. Our aim is to provide a different lens on media, one that focuses on viewpoints that have been marginalized and overwhelmed by the majority until now,” they said.

“Ultimately, we hope projects like these will become less necessary, that it will simply be understood that women are more than half the audience and they should be at least equally represented at all stages in the process. But in the current uneven landscape, we believe women need a place to know what women think about media and that change will not come quick enough by slowly evening ratios on existing platforms.”

You can get a bite at the cherry this autumn when the website is scheduled to launch.

By Stefania Sarrubba