Why I Don’t Like Rotten Tomatoes

For a while now, Rotten Tomatoes has been the one and only source for a definitive answer to the question: ‘Is that movie good?’. Scores and consensuses on the criticism website serve as legitimate resource for people when trying to pick a movie to stream or go to the cinema. Rotten Tomatoes has quickly and easily gained a reputation as ‘the best and most adequate film criticism website’. And yet, many people, including myself, don’t like it.

There was even a petition a while ago, if you remember, that was aimed towards shutting down Rotten Tomatoes. In the recent month, there has been more criticism on the criticism website than ever before. The website may quickly transform from a well-respected criticism platform to a snobbish and unliked medium.

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People in general does not realize how much work goes into creating a feature film. There are such who have shot short films and know what struggle that seemingly easy thing to do really is, but even they couldn’t possibly imagine what it’s like to shoot an actual long feature production. It’s an extremely hard thing to do. So much work goes into it, so many people work on, and so much money is invested into it.

If you haven’t seen it by now, the motto of Our Movie Life is ‘We talk about things we can’t actually make.’ and that is 100% percent true. Looking at a movie that I personally don’t enjoy and have criticized on this website, like ‘That Awkward Moment’, for example, I completely understand that even though I don’t like it, I could never make something like that. So much work has gone into and and so many people have put their blood and sweat into it. I can’t possible imagine making something like that at this point in my life. Thus, even though the movie isn’t perfect, I have tremendous respect towards the makers.

I, as many ‘film critics’ our there, respect movies. I enjoy the craft. About two years ago I created my rating system. It took me a long time because I wanted to objectively give an overall grade to a production, but not forget to point out exactly where that grade comes from (what the film prospers in and what it fails to do). I think there is something bad and something good in every film. One movie might excel in its cinematography and editing, but fail when it comes to casting and acting. Another might have amazing plot and character, but awful direction. I take everything, grade it on its own, and then give the overall grade. I have respect for film. And the main reason why I don’t like Rotten Tomatoes is exactly that: it doesn’t.

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Going back to what I said earlier, it is extremely hard to make a feature movie. And because of Rotten Tomatoes, so many of them are left unrecognized and unappreciated.

Take ‘Baywatch’ as an example. The Rock himself said that ”Baywatch’ is not a movie for the critics, it’s a movie for the public’ and I honestly can’t agree more. A movie like that is simply an okay source of entertainment, as are many other films out there. Many of my friends would love to see a film like ‘Baywatch’ and would absolutely enjoy it. I can’t say I didn’t, to be honest. And there is nothing wrong with that because the movie is knowingly silly and knowingly aims to only entertain.

The mere concept of Rotten Tomatoes is ruining films like that. People go the the cinema, they wonder what to watch, they go on the website and see that ‘Baywatch’ has 30% and is rotten. Then they say there is not point in watching a movie that sucks, go see ‘Alien: Covenant’, and leave the movie theater disappointing. Many people would enjoy ‘Baywatch’ more than ‘Alien: Covenant’. Many watch movies only for entertainment. Just because a specific production is not perfect from a filmmaking standpoint doesn’t mean that it doesn’t serve it’s purpose. That exact film may be liked by a large part of the public and that exact film was probably extremely hard to make.

Because of the way Rotten Tomatoes is structured, it takes the excitement and exploration away. People don’t go see movies they would otherwise enjoy because they have a low score on Rotten Tomatoes. Because of that, those films flop, lose money, and all that hard work goes to way. That’s a pity. Any feature film deserves recognition and deserves to win money, even if it is bad. So much work has probably went into it. And Rotten Tomatoes takes not only that away, it doesn’t only make the film lose money, but also persuades the viewer to see something else that they personally might enjoy less. Because of that, Rotten Tomatoes has no respect towards film and towards film watchers.

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Earlier I discussed my personal grading system and where it comes from. I rate different aspects of the film and then mathematically work out what the overall grade of the production is. Reason №2 why I don’t like Rotten Tomatoes is that it doesn’t.

You can’t give a movie one number and make that a definitive source of whether the film is good or not. I understand, that number comes from the overall average coefficient of people who liked the movie vs. people who didn’t like the movie, but that is also wrong! Rotten Tomatoes should not ask critics to simply state whether a movie is rotten or fresh because absolutely no movie can be simply classified either of those things. There is some rotten and some fresh is every production; one might prevail the other, but that doesn’t make the movie ‘good’ or ‘bad’. There is most certainly some good in it and some bad. No film is absolutely perfect and no film is absolutely awful, so critics should not classify them as such.

One number is not enough to explain whether a movie is good or bad. Some critics may like it, others not so much. One number is not definitive proof of any film’s quality. Rotten Tomatoes very quickly and thoughtlessly classifies films as ‘good’ and ‘bad’, or ‘fresh’ and ‘rotten’, without thinking that there is so much more in a film and one simply can’t be rated with a simple number. It is not an average of critics’ reviews, it’s an average of critics’ classifications. And those are two wildly different things.

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Which brings me to my next and final point of discussion. Classifications are not reviews.

Because of the mere structure of the website, less and less people actually read reviews. Now, as a film reviewer, this touches me on a personal level, but that is not what I’m talking about. Many now count on the grade that Rotten Tomatoes gives, on the classification that states whether the movie is ‘fresh’ or ‘rotten’. Yet again I have to say this: reviews explain what is good and what is bad on the movie. Reviews allow the viewer to more or less form their own opinion on the film as most film reviewers objectively discuss both the good and the bad in a film.

One, that is a lot better for the viewer because this way they can make an informed decision to either watch the production or not. Two, reviews explain both the good and the bad, are usually quite objective, and rarely give a film a grade without explaining why and where that grade comes from. And three, reviews explain and analyze. They expand the film knowledge and culture of both reader and the writer. Classifications do none of these things. They are simple, many a times untrue, general, and a ridiculous way to decide whether you should watch a movie or not.

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Before writing this, I discussed all my points with a fellow film nerd of mine. He said that he agrees with all of them, but still likes Rotten Tomatoes because it’s a place where film criticism prevails and he respects that.

On the one hand, I have to agree with him: going on Rotten Tomatoes, one can surely find so many film reviews, each different from the other, and mostly all well-written and informative. On the other hand, because of the way Rotten Tomatoes is structured, most people don’t bother reading the reviews: they simply see the grade. And that simple number, that ridiculous classification, is not a clear indicator to whether a film is good or bad. Not only that, but because of that one simple number, a production that was extremely hard to make might lose money. And on top of everything, that one simple number persuades many viewers to not see a film they would otherwise enjoy.

For all those reasons and for everything mentioned above, I do not like Rotten Tomatoes. I declare that it is neither certified fresh, nor fresh, but utterly and gruesomely rotten.

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Did you like this article? What do you think about Rotten Tomatoes? Share your thoughts in the comments section below, please! Don’t forget to also LIKE and SHARE this article if you enjoyed it!

As always, thank you for reading,

Mickey Angelov

 

6 Replies to “Why I Don’t Like Rotten Tomatoes”

  1. Ethan Collins

    Interesting analysis of this popular site. I do think some site like Rotten Tomatoes ought to exist, some place that aggregates critic review grades, and viewer grades too, so that people can check it if they want. If Rotten Tomatoes dies, another site like it will take its place, because many people are always going to like the idea of it. (Also popular are Metacritic and IMDb) However, I think the biggest problem is that people don’t understand what the site is really meant to be. I personally like Metacritic better, because it focuses more on grades rather than if a critic gave the film a score of 60 or more. Yet that also has some of the same problems. Anyway, so many critics grade things differently. For instance, I follow Chris Stuckman on YouTube, and if he gives a movie a 60%, a D- for him, it means he didn’t really care for it. But when schmoesknow give a movie a 60%, they’re still saying it’s worth a watch. Roger Ebert once said he wished he didn’t have to give movies a grade at all, and the review would just speak for itself. And though I give grades in my reviews, I know what he means.

    • MickeyAngelov

      I agree with you completely.
      And by the way, Chris Stuckman is my favorite movie reviewer. Our Movie Life exists because of him.
      Thank you for your comment. 🙂

  2. Ethan Collins

    Interesting analysis of this popular site. I do think some site like Rotten Tomatoes ought to exist, some place that aggregates critic review grades, and viewer grades too, so that people can check it if they want. If Rotten Tomatoes dies, another site like it will take its place, because many people are always going to like the idea of it. (Also popular are Metacritic and IMDb) However, I think the biggest problem is that people don’t understand what the site is really meant to be. I personally like Metacritic better, because it focuses more on grades rather than if a critic gave the film a score of 60 or more. Yet that also has some of the same problems. Anyway, so many critics grade things differently. For instance, I follow Chris Stuckman on YouTube, and if he gives a movie a 60%, a D- for him, it means he didn’t really care for it. But when schmoesknow give a movie a 60%, they’re still saying it’s worth a watch. Roger Ebert once said he wished he didn’t have to give movies a grade at all, and the review would just speak for itself. And though I give grades in my reviews, I know what he meant.

    • MickeyAngelov

      Avsolutely. I couldn’t agree with you more.
      P.S. I looove Chris Stuckman.
      Thank you for your comment. ☺️

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