According to an article on Variety, a recent study performed by researchers at the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism came to the conclusion that white men hold a dominant lead over both women and ethnically diverse writers in the world of film review and criticism.
Final numbers from the study show that a whopping 82% of film reviews from the top 100 grossing films of 2017 were written by white authors, leaving only 18% of ethnically diverse authors at the helm for other reviews and critics. With 39% of the population (according to U.S. consensus) being racially diverse, it is clear that there is a nonequivalent number of reviewers as compared to the diversity within our population.
In the case of female versus male writers, women only hold just above 20% coverage of reviews to men’s 78%. In other words, the ratio between men and women reviews is 3.5 to 1.
What is even more surprising pertaining to the gender inequality is the lack of reviews by women for movies specifically written to empower female protagonists. Only 30% of the 36 reviews written for films featuring female-driven plot lines were written by women in 2017. Much in the same light, of the 24 of the top-grossing films representing racially diverse characters, only 20% of the total reviews were written by people of color.
These percentages may feel misleading since so many of the biggest reviewer names are those of female writers. Names like Manohla Dargis of the New York Times, Dana Stevens of Slate, or Alison Wilmore of Buzzfeed News are some that come to mind. Even with these women dominating their areas of expertise, the USC Annenberg research shows just how glaring the gap is.
This is not the first study done by USC Annenberg about inequality within the entertainment industry. They have done studies on the under-representation of both women and minorities in major motion pictures, Grammy nominations, and in top-rated television shows.
Many are advocating for a change in these fields. Specifically, Dr. Stacey Smith (founder and director of the Annenberg Inclusion Initiative) believes that ranks need to change within the world of film critique and review. She stated the following about the matter:
“The very individuals who are attuned to the under and misrepresentation of females on screen and behind the camera are often left out of the conversation and critiques. The publicity, marketing, and distribution teams in moviemaking have an opportunity to change this quickly by increasing the access and opportunities given to women of color as film reviewers.”
Data for this study was collected from the top 100 films as seen on Rotten Tomatoes.