According to a report at Variety, there’s been a decline in the number of reviews written by female film critics in the last five years. Examining the results of a new study by Martha Lauzen of San Diego State University’s Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film, Pat Saperstein says there are fewer working female critics today than there were five years ago, at least at the industry’s top publications:
“While the perception is that the Internet has made film criticism more democratic, in reality film critics appear to have become less, not more gender diverse over the last six years. Top male critics wrote 82% and top female critics 18% of the film reviews on Rotten Tomatoes in spring 2013, while in fall 2007, men wrote 70% and women 30% of reviews for the top 100 U.S. daily newspapers.”
Lauzen says the study was inspired by two recent gender-related flaps in the world of film criticism: Rex Reed’s cruel review of “Identity Thief” and its female star, Melissa McCarthy, and the firing of a critic from a newspaper in Buffalo by an editor who decided he no longer wanted to review movies in his publication because they “robbed America of its manliness.”
Among the more eye-popping stats that came from her research: “91% of critics writing for trade publications like Variety, the Hollywood Reporter, and TheWrap” were male, and when female critics do get to review movies 36% of their reviews were for films written or directed by women, compared with just 21% by men. Lauzen’s conclusion: “Popular film criticism remains a predominantly male activity.”
I could have told you that without reading the study. But the numbers themselves, and the extreme degree to which that statement is true, are still shocking.
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