Critics Need to be as Diverse as the Audience

Posted on June 23, 2018 at 2:20 pm

Becca Harrison writes in Prospect about “From Ocean’s 8 to #MeToo: why the gender bias in film criticism matters:”

This week, Hollywood stars and reviewers alike have waded into debates about the gender of film critics.

In a promotional interview for Ocean’s 8, its stars—Mindy Kaling, Cate Blanchett, and Sandra Bullock—suggested that they’d like more women to review their film.

Bullock talked about the need to “balance out the pool of critics” so that it “reflects the world we’re in,” while Kaling said that “often I think there is a critic who will damn it in a way because they don’t understand it, because they come at it at a different point of view.”

Responding to the cast’s view that men might be more dismissive of their film than women, Buzzfeed critic Alison Willmore tweeted that this was “the same argument an angry teen boy uses when telling me why I shouldn’t get to weigh in on Suicide Squad.”

“It’s also an argument whose end point is that there should never be bad reviews, because that just means the critic wasn’t the right audience.”

But Willmore’s argument misses the point. The issue of individual films aside, there is a pressing need for publishers and editors to diversify criticism—and to trust that women and people of colour can write critically about films, even when they are “the right audience.”

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