Captain Marvel on her movie poster.

Rotten Tomatoes Is Finally Making You Prove You Saw a Film Before Your Review Counts

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After review bombing attempts for Captain Marvel, Black Panther, and A Wrinkle in Time proved that trolls will go after any film they haven’t seen if it features “SJW propaganda,” Rotten Tomatoes is putting their foot down. First, they implemented a policy that users can’t review a film that hasn’t come out yet. Now, it’s that you have to prove you’ve seen a film before your review can affect its user rating score.

Honestly, it’s about time.

Users who haven’t verified their movie ticket purchase (verification will be performed through online ticket purchases, first through Fandango, and eventually through other sites) will still be allowed to leave reviews and scores for movies, but those won’t affect the aggregate user score presented alongside the movie on the site, and reviews from users who have verified that they bought a ticket will be marked as such.

Prior to these rules being enacted, trolls could spam a film’s Rotten Tomatoes page with negative reviews and even set up bots to review it negatively. Films like The Last Jedi and Captain Marvel were spammed with one-star reviews calling them “SJW propaganda,” and the first negative viewer review for A Wrinkle in Time, which admittedly did not do well with critics, popped up more than a month before the film was actually released. A Facebook group called “Down With Disney’s Treatment of Franchises and its Fanboys,” which took credit for leaving bad reviews on The Last Jedi, was linked to plans to similarly spam Black Panther with negative reviews.

This isn’t discussion about a film. This is just people mad that these films include Black protagonists or female protagonists. There are reasons to dislike all of these films (or any film), or leave negative reviews for them, but spamming the page with one-star reviews about how the films are propaganda shows a nasty side of fandom. These are the same people who theorize that Captain Marvel’s $1 billion box office haul is a sign of failure and that Disney had to buy out theaters; they’re obsessed with ensuring that anyone who’s not a straight, cishet, able-bodied white man fails.

Rotten Tomatoes has changed their system, but it’s only a matter of time before someone figures out how to troll the system and the bots go back to spamming. However, it’s nice to see the site taking action to stop this practice. “Review bombing” is an attempt to diminish or tear down films that are striving to be inclusive. There should be no place for that in film criticism, especially if you haven’t seen the film and you’re only mad because Reddit told you to be.

We’ll see if this is able to affect change. It might not stop Reddit threads or petitions, but this should put a dent in people trying to sabotage a film’s official user score, on one of the biggest sources for movie ratings, for the sake of being terrible. Hopefully, this will curb the worst review bombing attempts, and we’ll see a change in the way films are talked about on platforms like Rotten Tomatoes. Once we clean house there, maybe one day, other social media sites like Twitter won’t be hellscapes, either.

(via IndieWire, image: Marvel)

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Image of Kate Gardner
Kate Gardner
Kate (they/them) says sorry a lot for someone who is not sorry about the amount of strongly held opinions they have. Raised on a steady diet of The West Wing and classic film, they are now a cosplayer who will fight you over issues of inclusion in media while also writing coffee shop AU fanfic for their favorite rare pairs.