given to me

Published on November 1st, 2019 | by Kevin Given


Given to Me: Critics push their politics through their reviews

Another thing that I find alarming in pop-culture is how critics will give films a positive or negative review based on their political agenda. It’s no secret that the U.S. media is incredibly biased in their political outlook. However, when I read a review on a movie, I would like to not see the reviewer’s politics play a role in determining if they like a movie or not. For instance, when the reviewers rated the Wonder Woman movie, they gave it an overwhelmingly positive review (93% v 88% audience score) whereas when they reviewed Justice League a few months later, they pretty much dissed it with a weak 40% approval, however, the audience score was a respectable 72%. This confuses me because I found both movies to be about equally entertaining. Justice League may have been more flawed and not quite as well done as Wonder Woman, but entertainment value wise I view them as somewhat on par. Wonder Woman being slightly overrated and Justice League being slightly underrated. Yet the critics had a huge chasm between their likes and dislike of these movies while the audience score for both was fresh on Rotten Tomatoes.

One criticism was that the villain of Steppenwolf was nothing but a CGI bad guy in Justice League, a one-dimensional character that was just there to be the bad guy, no development at all. But then when we look at the villainous god Mars in Wonder Woman that character had very little development at all, certainly not much more than Steppenwolf. So, I don’t get why the critics had such a wide chasm in their critiques of these movies. Unless…could it be because Wonder Woman is a female protagonist? Their mission could be to push movies that have a female lead and, even though Wonder Woman was in Justice League, she was only one in an ensemble. Then we come to their view on Aquaman. The critic’s score was 65%, fresh, but only barely, just like the new Joker (more on that later), the audience gave it 75%. So, all three DC movies have an audience score about equal, within 13% approval for all three movies, whereas the critic’s gap in approval is 55%. I agree with the audience scores much more than the critics all three are equally entertaining popcorn movies with slight variation. Why would they be so good to Wonder Woman and not the others? Could politics be at play? Are they saying that Wonder Woman is good simply because she’s a female? Seriously, were those three films that much different entertainment value-wise? I don’t think so. All about on par.

 So, let’s look at the difference between critics scores and audience scores on Rotten Tomatoes for other genre type films and television with female leads:

                                                                   Critics               Audience

Captain Marvel                                            78                      53

Ghostbusters (2016)                                   74                      50

Dr. Who Season 11                                      91                       21

Batwoman                                                     71                       12

Star Wars: Last Jedi                                    91                      44

Star Trek: Discovery                                   82                      43

We see a huge gap between what the critics are saying about these shows and what the audience is saying about these shows. And with the audience low scores, we see media journalists and filmmakers alike complaining about Internet Trolls who can’t deal with a strong female lead. Essentially directors, producers and even actors attacking the very people that they want to purchase tickets to their films or watch their shows. When looking at the above films we see that all but Captain Marvel underperformed at the box office (Last Jedi underperformed compared to Force Awakens.) or in the ratings. So, why do critics love these shows while fans are mixed at best or turned off at worst? Could it be that the allegations of sexism or Misogyny are true? Do fans really stay away from movies if the lead is female? Well, let’s look at other films and television with strong female leads.

                                                                    Critics               Audience

Wonder Woman                                          93                        88

Alita: Battle Angel                                       61                        93

Kill Bill (vol. 1)                                             85                        81

Atomic Blonde                                             78                        64

Underworld                                                  31                        79

Terminator: Sarah Conner Chronicles   76                        85

These films have an audience score that is highly positive and, apart from Underworld, the critic’s score is generally favorable too. So, let’s break these films down and get to the core of why there is a vast difference in the scores.

First, we come to Captain Marvel. A film that had intense controversy all over it. Again, Hollywood types claim that the controversy stemmed from the fact that Brie Larson was a woman. This allegation even came from Agent Coulson himself, Clark Gregg: “There are people who get very bent out of shape about the fact that she’s a woman, and that Brie’s a woman, and wants to see women moving into an equal place in humanity to men.” He continues, “It’s sad. It must be sad to be that kind of dinosaur wandering toward the tar pits.” (1)

But, again, the elitists get it wrong. The controversy from certain fans didn’t come from the fact that she’s a woman, it came from comments she made about “Old White Dudes” at an awards show (2) How many of these Internet Trolls complained about Gal Gadot being a woman? The snobs of high society don’t even bother to listen to the people who were criticizing Brie as to what the controversy was about. After all, they’re too good to actually listen to what we’re saying.

So, how about the movie was it good? I realize good is subjective, but I personally found it highly entertaining. Even if it was a by the number’s origin story. The highpoint was the banter between Samuel L. Jackson and Brie Larson throughout, they seemed to be having a lot of fun making it. As a fan of the comics, I hated what they did to the Skrulls, who were little more than intergalactic pussies. In the comics, they’re more badass than the Kree.

Ghostbusters 2016 was mildly amusing but, other than the opening scene wasn’t really anything special. They tried to cover a so-so story with a multitude of CGI ghosts.

I haven’t seen Dr. Who since Collen Bakers version. I wasn’t a big fan of his incarnation, so I lost interest and haven’t come back, though I have heard great stuff about the David Tenant version, so, I promise to check that out someday. But the critics give the Jodie Whitaker version rave reviews while the fans seem to be highly disappointed, looking at the audience score and the ratings for the show.

I did check out the new Batwoman and I thought it was slightly less than average for the CW. The acting was decent, if not special, just like their other superhero shows. I did enjoy Ruby Rose in the action scenes. She’s a pretty girl, very athletic and holds her own in the role. But the story was only ok in its execution. One of the problems with the CW superhero shows is that they are over saturating the market and the writing is simply getting weaker. I enjoyed the first couple of seasons of Arrow and The Flash but became bored with them by season three. The only DC show that keeps me interested still is Gotham (I know, it’s been canceled, but I’m only seeing them on Netflix, and I have many more to go), and that’s on Fox, not the CW. I still haven’t seen Titans or Doom Patrol, but the trailers definitely pique my interest. The pilot to Krypton was good, but not great.

Star Wars The Last Jedi I’ve pretty much covered, the only thing left to say is that I gave the movie a good review because technically it’s one of the most brilliant films ever made. The pacing, the effects make it compelling, but the way they treat the Old White Dudes, who are the iconic characters us fans of the original know and love is highly disrespectful and divisive costing Disney a lot of money (like $700 million.) Rey is too much of a Mary Sue to be an iconic character, she simply knows how to do everything because she’s a woman. Where’s the growth, the learning, the character arc?

Star Trek Discovery had a disastrous first season and slightly redeemed themselves in Season two with a couple of good episodes. Though they have yet to make a great episode. But if Season three isn’t phenomenal, I have a feeling it will be the last.

Wonder Woman was incredibly fun, and action-packed, on par with Justice League and Aquaman.

I haven’t seen Alita or Atomic Blonde (review on C4S though) yet, so no comment on those. Though both can be considered mild hits given their backstories and the fact that critics thought Alita would tank. I have also never seen Terminator: The Sarah Conner Chronicles, though everything I’ve heard about it was positive.

Now we come to Kill Bill! And this Quentin Tarintino junkie loves him some Kill Bill. Is this not the strongest female lead in the history of cinema? The character takes out an entire room of Yakuza at one point and this is Uma Thurman clearly at her best.

“Oh, but you fanboys can’t deal with a strong female lead, that’s why you dissed my movie!” (Paul Feig, Jar. Jar. Abrams. Rian Johnson, Ron Howard and anyone else that writes and produces sub-par scripts and doesn’t want to take responsibility for their own failures.) 

I have seen the Kill Bill films dozens of times and fell in love with Uma Thurman because of them and her badassery. But unlike Rey in the Last Jedi, she had to undergo intense training to become the warrior that she became. She wasn’t just born to be able to fight, she had to learn, and that’s why we could relate to her as a person. I could go on, but you get the gist of what I’m saying, that’s good writing, that’s a character arc.

I can’t deal with a strong female lead? I love the strongest female lead in the history of cinema.

The last of these shows and films I mentioned was Underworld. I love Kate Beckinsale and I thought the first Underworld was moody and different enough, I mean when’s the last time you’ve seen Werewolves and Vampires fight? So, it was good, then I went to the second one and didn’t really see much that was new. At least nothing that kept me interested so I stopped watching the series with number two.

But none of that answers the question as to why critics gave these movies and shows good to great reviews when the audience found them sub-par. The only answer I can think of is that critics push their political views through their reviews. They want the movies to succeed because these particular films fit with their woke ideology. Even if the stories are nothing special, they want them to succeed just to prove their views are what counts. Most fans, however, don’t care one way or the other about the producers, writers, actors and director’s ideology. If a film is well made it will make money and be popular. If it isn’t, then it probably won’t. Of course, there are exceptions to that rule. But generally, I would say, Hollywood, keep your politics out of our beloved franchises. Most of us don’t care.

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About the Author

Kevin Given has studied with "Longridge Writers Group" and "Writer's Boot Camp" a speech/communications major from the University of Maine Presque-Isle/Orono sites. He has created the "Karl Vincent Vampire Hunter" franchise which includes 2 novels and 8 comic books. They can be found on amazon, Indyplanet and Kindle. For a limited time you can get digital copies of "Karl Vincent: Vampire hunter" #1 and "Files of Karl Vincent" #1 for free on Indyplanet. Kevin is producing the third novel in the series "Dracula Rising" (working title) and developing "Foul Blood" into comic book form.

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