This fall, the fight for women’s equality will be played out in “Suffragette,” which features a brief appearance by Meryl Streep, who gives a rousing speech to inspire those who are battling for the right to vote in the drama. However, while the message might have its heart in the right place, the industry itself still has a long way to go in addressing the gender imbalance found at all levels. And while there has been a continuing conversation about the lack of women involved in the various levels of film production, Streep has made an important point that the realm of movie critics also tends to be a boys club.
Speaking at the “Suffragette” press conference (via The Daily Beast), the actress scrutinized taste-making movie review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes as being symbolic of how male voices tend to guide critical consensus, and of the uneven gender distribution across the industry as a whole.
“I went deep, deep, deep, deep into Rotten Tomatoes,” Streep said, emphasizing that many filmgoers make their movie-ticket purchasing choices based on the site’s rankings. “There are 168 women. And I thought that’s absolutely fantastic, and if there were 168 men it would be balanced. If there were 268 men it would be unfair but I would be used to it, if there were 360… actually there are 760 men who weigh in on the Tomatometer.”
“I submit to you that men and women are not the same, they like different things. Sometimes they like the same thing but sometimes their tastes diverge. If the Tomatometer is slighted so completely to one set of tastes, that drives box office in the United States, absolutely,” she added.
Certainly, there is now argument that movie critics tend to be mostly male, and that the established cinematic canon has largely been dictated by one particular voice. A change definitely has to come, and while some would argue it’s a complicated issue that requires deep thought and an equally multifaceted solution, it’s really not that hard. Just start with hiring more women to write about movies, and the rest will follow.