Angry DC Fans Start Petition to Shut Down Rotten Tomatoes, Good Grief
We’ve seen this before, and not even that long ago: Disgruntled DC fans railing against critics for negative reviews of a new film before it even hits theaters; before those fans have even seen the film for themselves. It happened with Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, and it’s happening again with Suicide Squad, as fans take to social media to bash critics for what they perceive to be unfair reviews based on personal bias against superhero films — or DC movies, specifically. But this time they have a petition and a misguided plan to solve this crisis in the film community.
Some DC fans have started a Change.Org petition — you know, Change.org, the place where you go to have your voice heard, to effect change on a sociopolitical level, to right the great injustices of the world…like negative reviews of DC superhero movies. The petition currently has over 12,000 signatures and a delightful mission statement calling for the end of review aggregation site Rotten Tomatoes:
We need this site to be shut down because It's Critics always give The DC Extended Universe movies unjust Bad Reviews, Like
1- Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice 2016
2- Suicide Squad 2016
and that Affects people's opinion even if it's a really great movies
This does not appear to be a well thought-out plan. Shutting Rotten Tomatoes down obviously isn’t going to shut down every publication that hosts film reviews. Rotten Tomatoes doesn’t publish their own reviews; they merely serve to helpfully aggregate them in one convenient place, using an algorithm to reduce a film to a simple Fresh or Rotten rating with a numerical score.
The petition isn’t entirely surprising, but it is sort of astounding in its ignorance not only of how Rotten Tomatoes operates, but what film criticism actually is. It’s an opinion. Of course it’s biased — because it’s an individual opinion based on said individual’s particular tastes and experiences. You don’t have to agree with a review, and a review is not an objective, definitive judgment of a film’s quality. Your mileage will undoubtedly vary.
It seems kind of nuts that some people still need this concept of “having an opinion” explained to them in such simple terms. It’s even more crazy that there are people on the internet, at this very moment, who are bullying film critics and — in some unfortunate cases — using threats of violence just because those critics didn’t enjoy a film that hasn’t even come out yet; a film that the angry fan in question hasn’t even seen, but has already come to the conclusion that the film is great.
In this case the film is Suicide Squad, which currently has a 33 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes. A few months ago it was Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, which has a 27 percent rating. With its slightly more positive rating of 55 percent, Man of Steel is currently the best-reviewed DC movie, but not by much. According to DC fans, the reason why critics dislike these movies is because we’re biased (which, we are — everyone is). Some of them even accuse us of being shills who are paid by Marvel and Disney to bash DC movies. If that seems a bit unbelievable, pick a random negative review of Batman v Superman or Suicide Squad and check out the comments. Or head over to Reddit, where some DC fans are convinced of this wacky conspiracy.
And it doesn’t feel all that different from the “Ghostbros” — the largely male contingency of Ghostbusters fans who were convinced that Paul Feig’s reboot was horrible because it had a female cast. They spent months decrying the film sight unseen; many of them were so opposed to the idea that they made the Ghostbusters reboot trailer the most disliked trailer of all time on YouTube before turning their bizarrely hateful attention to the film’s rating on IMDb.
It’s okay to disagree with critics; it’s okay if you like a movie that most critics despised, or if you hate a movie that a lot of critics seemed to enjoy. That doesn’t make you wrong, and it doesn’t make us wrong. What is wrong is when anticipation for a film is so high that fans become irrationally invested in its perception and mistake opinion for objective fact, lashing out at anyone who disagrees. That’s a dangerous way to engage with people.