Are Critics Reliable?


The Rotten Tomatoes logo.

Haley Thiel and Hannah Blevins

The reliability of critics has always been questioned. Oftentimes, people understandably question the ethics of critics and what their true purpose is. Some people agree that critics are useful in how they can help determine whether a movie or show is good enough to watch, or if a restaurant is tasty enough to eat at. The truth is that all of these reviews and opinions are subjective. Everyone has different views on what makes things good or bad, and each and every view is equally valid. Critics are no better than regular people when it comes to judging the quality of something, yet they are revered as intellectuals with greater opinions than that of the public. While critics can be entertaining when they are informative, educational, and insightful, they are usually swayed by personal bias. Basing their ratings on opinion is part of the job description, but why should their words matter in the grand scheme of things? The answer is, it doesn’t. Critics are virtually useless in the enjoyment of the arts. Although a highly renowned critic can gain publicity for a certain medium, it shouldn’t matter what a random stranger’s opinion is, whether it be art, food, or movies (Graham).

Film critics in particular have become obsolete in nearly every way imaginable. They provide little to nothing but their subjective opinion on films. Oftentimes they are very out of touch, which causes very skewed and inaccurate ratings that confuse the audience and hurt the production company. The website Rotten Tomatoes, for example, has been a long-trusted source when it comes to reviews from critics worldwide.

Viewers and critics go onto the website to rate and review the movie, giving it a score from 0-100%. The average of all the scores is used to make a percentage rating of the film. In recent years, it has become clear that critics’ opinions are either irrelevant to what audiences think, or they let their personal values dictate whether something is good or not. There are many examples of critics not aligning with public opinion. The new film Black Panther; Wakanda Forever was given a 75% on Rotten Tomatoes, grossly inaccurate to the ratings of the public who have given the movie glowing reviews online. A recent study held by cinema data analyst and film producer Stephen Follows analyzed 10,449 films released in US cinemas. That study revealed that critical opinion has diverged from audience reactions more and more as the years go on (Home).

The thing that’s consistent through shows and movies, where the critics’ scores deviate so far from the audience scores, is that rather than being objectively critical, television and movie critics are much more likely to let their personal biases and beliefs dictate how they rate something. If critics are not able to judge impartially and accurately, what is the point of them at all? Why should people put any weight on their words when their ratings are neither unbiased nor educated?

Film critics have too much sway in the publicity of a film, even though their opinions are unimportant in the overall enjoyment of movies. They don’t add to the film or present the audience with an accurate rating to prepare them for their movie experience. Why should they have a say in how well a movie does?

A film that gets a bad rating from highly esteemed critics usually does worse in theaters according to CNBC. Just like the rest of us, critics are regular people, and their opinions shouldn’t be one of the leading reasons for whether or not films do well at the box office. Critics are normal individuals, and they should not be placed so highly on a pedestal.