Meryl Streep calls out Rotten Tomatoes sexism at Suffragette conference
When we were lucky enough to attend the UK press screening and conference for Suffragette as part of this year’s BFI London Film Festival, one moment really stayed with us.
Hollywood legend Meryl Streep, who takes on the role of Suffragette leader Emmeline Pankhurst in the new film, unleashed a statistically supported tirade at the film criticism website Rotten Tomatoes.
Using the great gender imbalance among Rotten Tomatoes critics as evidence, Streep declared that the entire American movie industry is being skewed by the dominance of male reviewers, who have different tastes and perspectives to women.
In our business, part of it is driven by buzz. So I am always thinking, what creates buzz? What controls that? In the United States, when people go to watch a movie, they go to something called Rotten Tomatoes. So I went deep, deep, deep, DEEP into Rotten Tomatoes, and I counted the contributors; critics and reviewers and writers and bloggers. There’s a set of strict criteria that allow you to be a blogger or critic on Rotten Tomatoes – and of those people who are allowed to rate on the ‘Tomatometer’, there are 168 women.
So I thought ‘that’s absolutely fantastic’! And if there were 168 men, it would be balanced. If there were 268 men, it would be unfair, but we’d be used to it. If there were 300 men, if there were 400, 500, or 600… But there are 760 men who weigh in on the Tomatometer.
I submit to you that men and women are not the same. They like different things. Sometimes they like the same things, but sometimes, their tastes diverge. If the Tomatometer is slighted so completely to one set of tastes, that drives box office figures, absolutely. So who are these critics and bloggers? I went to the site of the New York Film Critics. The New York Film Critics have 37 men, and 2 women. And then I started to go on all the sites, and the word isn’t ‘disheartening’… It’s ‘INFURIATING’. Because people accept this as received wisdom; this is just the way it is. And they’re taking every single issue of feminine rights in the world, and examining it under the same rubric. It isn’t fair. We need inclusion. Tomatoes, it has to be equal. Half and half.
Well everyone, the queen has spoken! Read our full report on the Q&A here.
Meryl Streep and the rest of the Suffragette cast and crew shall be at Odeon Leicester Square tonight (07.10.15) for the premiere of the film.
Check out Suffragette when it hits UK cinemas on October 12th, and stay tuned for our coverage and full review on TV Daily.