Rotten Tomatoes Needs to Kill Its Audience Scores

The goal of Rotten Tomatoes has seemingly never been to polarize audiences, instead serving as a means to bring together the reviews of various critics and their reviews of a film or TV show from all across the Internet. Recent years have seen the various scores a property earns become an objective qualifier of a film's quality, with that statistic being weaponized either in support of or to attack, for example, a film. As the site continues to modify the ways in which users are allowed to contribute their reviews, thus impacting the recipient's score for the better or worse, the site should instead do away with these reviews altogether, as there are enough outlets on which fans can voice their opinions across the Internet without a seemingly reputable source validating their opinion by including their input alongside the thoughts of verified critics.

For the past two decades, Rotten Tomatoes has served merely as a place where critics can submit their reviews to provide easier access to their opinions, while also allowing critics to deliver a binary "Fresh" or "Rotten" distinction. From there, the site collates those responses to determine its score, with some audiences having the misconception that the site itself has any influence over that statistic or that the site administers the score arbitrarily. Seemingly after discovering the site's algorithm, the site has been targeted by Internet trolls in an effort to express their toxicity towards iconic properties.

Rotten Tomatoes is just like any other website that relies primarily on visitors and traffic to earn money, which means that the more audiences it can attract, the longer they can keep them there, and the more things they click on, the more profitable the site is. Implementing user reviews makes perfect sense for the site, as it allows anyone with enough time to create a username to feel their opinion is as important as that of approved critics. The drawback is that this has emboldened some fans into thinking that their subjective opinion has become an objective truth, given that it helps tabulate a statistic that appears when someone visits the movie's page on the site.

In response to the Internet trolls, the site has updated their protocols multiple times over the last few months. First, audience reviews were temporarily disabled, followed by the option to comment about a movie only being made possible after a movie has opened. The most recent change is that users can verify their review by confirming they purchased a ticket, yet still allowing those without verified tickets to leave reviews and presenting the option to either read all reviews or only verified reviews.

All of these changes have left fans scratching their heads wondering why Rotten Tomatoes is jumping through all of these hoops to make for the most efficient ways to see what audiences are saying about a film, yet doesn't address how useless that information is. Whether it be on Rotten Tomatoes, IMDb, Letterboxd, or any other similar site, the overall average score from users inspires nothing more than the thought, "Hmm, interesting."

Luckily, in the past two decades, various social media platforms have emerged which allow fans to express their opinions in lengthy and eloquent ways, rendering virtually all user ratings on any aggregating site pointless. Rotten Tomatoes clearly has the best intentions when it comes to offering fans insight into movies and TV shows, but it already has enough flaws with its critical reviews that by continuing to allow audiences to offer their input -- while catering to those who are expressing their opinion in both good and bad faith -- it is making for an incredibly cumbersome experience that is ultimately for naught.

15comments

The world of fandom is arguably growing increasingly toxic and dividing audiences in such drastic ways that Rotten Tomatoes should cut its losses and remove the audience score functionality entirely instead of continuing to enable those who aim to manipulate flaws in the system in hopes of creating a false narrative about a film or TV show's public perception.

Do you think the Rotten Tomatoes audience score is helpful? Let us know in the comments below!