University of Southern California Study Examines Diversity of Film Critics

Stacy L. Smith, an associate professor of communication at the University of Southern California has led many research projects showing the lack of diversity in the film and television industries. (For example, see JBHE posts here and here.)

Now Dr. Smith’s team has issued a new report on diversity among movie critics. The report examined more than 19,000 reviews of the 100 top grossing films of 2017 posted on the site Rotten Tomatoes to assess gender and race/ethnicity of critics, finding that reviewers are overwhelmingly White and male.

The data shows that 64 percent of all movie critics are White men and 18 percent are White women. Fourteen percent of critics were men from underrepresented groups and 4 percent were women from underrepresented groups.

The authors of the report conclude that “in the age of review aggregators and advance ticketing, reviewers may also have an outsized influence on audience behavior. This study reveals that the reviewers themselves bear only a slight resemblance to the demographics of ticket buyers. How widely critical opinions and appraisals deviate from audience reactions based on these demographic indicators remains to be answered. For now, it is clear that while the position of critics in entertainment is unique, the lack of women and people of color in the ranks of reviewers is no different than in the rest of Hollywood.”

The full report, Critics Choice? Gender and Race/Ethnicity of Film Reviewers Across 100 Top Films of 2017, may be downloaded by clicking here. The report was co-authored by Marc Choueiti and Katherine Pieper.


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