Critical Viewing in Hollywood

Who can criticize films? What is the foundation of their criticism? How can press junkets become more diverse, especially when sitting across prominent and popular filmmakers and actors?

Most interviewers in press tours are white men. More of them have worked in their role for decades and building into senior positions. For those who have senior positions in prestige entertainment magazines (Variety, Deadline, The Hollywood Reporter, and Entertainment Weekly, for example), providing experiences for more diverse perspectives needs to be their responsibility.

Letterboxd, Rotten Tomatoes, and sharing thoughts on a film via Google or a movie ticket purchasing app can have a true detriment on a film. For me, I trust Veggie Tales as fine art rather than Rotten Tomatoes. The critic’s score could be low but the audience score could be higher. There are people who read film reviews before seeing a film and rightfully so with the cost of movie tickets. 

Anyone can share their thoughts about a film. That also entails sharing a perspective that is beyond, “this movie suxxed”. True critique looks at the scope of the film, and the pieces that make the story come alive. Twitter has become a cesspool that catapults conversation about a film simply as an example as the aforementioned tweet. Great amplification can spark someone’s curiosity to watch a film or television show.

Captain Marvel was released in 2019. It was the first superhero film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe with a female lead. You would have thought Earth would split open at this wonderful fact. Brie Larson, who plays the titular character, was instrumental in making sure there was an inclusive press corps for the film. This was to make the reviews of the film beyond the perspective of white male reviewers who dominate the entertainment industry magazines and websites. We need more diversity in film reviews to not rely on the white male gaze.

Another Marvel film, Eternals was marred for its inclusivity in the ensemble and for having a female Asian female director, Chloe Zao. There were people who simply did not like that this film existed. The film was marred before it was released. The Marvel Cinematic Universe has become more inclusive in its storytelling over the years. Shows like She-Hulk and Ms. Marvel have been review bombed, when folks posting negative reviews with the intention to harm, in this case, a program. It is the online equivalent of egging someone’s house. However, audiences embrace those shows because they understand their power and intention. 

There is a lack of female film critics given the plethora of white men who work in prestige press. Take into account even more film critics who do not represent a vast movie audience including people who are disabled and by their age, gender, gender expression, and sex. 

I read film reviews by Soraya Nadia McDonald. She is a Senior Culture Critic for Andscape, a platform owned by ESPN on the “intersection of sports, race, and culture”. A Twitter thread by writer Kathia Woods shares reviews by Black women for The Woman King. The box office for the film was crucial in the continued response to Hollywood’s understanding of the power, especially monetarily, of films with a diverse ensemble, and with this film, a Black female lead ensemble. 

Hollywood is a business. Fighting to build an audience is more apparent. Reaching an audience through the varied press is imperative. Matthew A. Cherry, a director, author, and creative, tweeted in support of the television comedy, Abbott Elementary. Black Twitter amplified the show’s greatness into popularity when the show was barely on the radar of the press. Now, with the show’s success, the press followed.

There is a plethora of content available through streaming. It is also important that people from the background in which the film’s story is about get to be a part of the press corps and conversation to bring awareness to the film. 

Ashley Paul is a traveler, runner, and baker. She is an Everlasting Bookworm and Culture Maven. She is passionate about supporting high school juniors and seniors to write compelling stories for their post-secondary careers. She loves stories with social commentary, atmospheric writing, and compelling characters.

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