A Letter to Our Readers

  • Oliver ‘soulwarrior’ Gehrmann

    I read the review and while I didn’t agree with the final verdict, I did at least see where he was coming from. The same was not true for the other negative reviews of this movie that I read out of curiosity. So I think Michael did a good job in that regard.
    I like to see that this site seems to be trying to learn and I might check out some other contents in the future as I’m slightly intrigued by the premise of the site. :-)

  • Carnivale

    You’ve missed the primary reason why the review attracted such vitriol: timing. The review was added to Rotten Tomatoes on 15th April when the film had 100% based on a relatively small number of reviews. The film wasn’t due to be released in the US until May 6th, so more reviews were very slow to come in. The next negative review wasn’t posted until 28th April, meaning there were 13 days when Michael Fairbanks’ review was the one and only negative review for a highly anticipated, popular, fan-driven movie – a movie that was more than likely to receive near universal critical acclaim, and a movie that had already been the source of a multitude of heated internet wars. The internet mob mentality kicked in and vilified Michael Fairbanks as the one person who destroyed Civil War’s perfect 100% Tomatometer for 13 uninterrupted days, which is practically an eon in the lifespan of the internet. Adding the review to RT so early was an obvious blunder, given the special circumstances that surrounded Captain America: Civil War. This poor decision contributed to Michael Fairbanks and your site becoming exposed to a exceptional amount of negativity.

    As I write this comment, Captain America: Civil War has 210 reviews, 17 of which are negative. You can bet that the critic who wrote the 17th negative review hasn’t received the overwhelming amount of negativity that Michael Fairbanks did. If this situation ever happens in future (that is, a situation where you are going to post the first negative review for a highly anticipated, popular, fan-driven movie) my advice is simply to hold off adding the review to Rotten Tomatoes until the majority of reviews have been added. Post it on your website whenever you want, but don’t add it to RT so early. As you have already noted, your contributors are young, relatively inexperienced people who don’t get paid. Let older, more experienced, paid critics suffer the ire of the internet for being the first person to post a negative review for the next fan-driven blockbuster. They are better equipped to handle it.

    • Thanks for your comment. I did state in the letter that I should have waited to post the review closer to the release date, so I don’t believe your point is one I missed. Also, I apologize that I don’t spend much time visiting Rotten Tomatoes all day long to check the status of movie scores before adding ours because NEWS FLASH: most editors and critics aren’t that concerned with RT scores and how we affect them – especially for blockbusters like this one which audiences will see no matter how “fresh” or “rotten” it is.

      Regardless of posting this review early or not, I still don’t think we deserved the threats and insults hurled our way. There is no justification for that type of behavior.

      • Carnivale

        Of course you didn’t deserve the threats and insults, but you might have expected them had you been more attuned to RT culture. I understand totally that you’ve got other things to be concerned about besides what’s going on at RT, but I very much think you need to become more familiar with the very specific culture that has formed at that site, which is totally different to the culture at this site and every other site on the internet. You can’t cross post from one site to another, exposing your content to a totally different group of readers with totally different normal modes of engagement and expect the same results. You need to understand how different online communities operate and modify your approach accordingly. For example, earlier in the year Zootopia was also on 100%, and the first critic to post a negative review got bombarded with negativity in a similar way to this site. While last year the movie Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2 had 0% on Rotten Tomatoes and the first critic to post a positive review got slammed with the same sort of negativity. Earlier this year RT users cheered as the negative reviews for The Divergent Series: Allegiant started to roll in and the Tomatometer plummeted drastically towards single digits, exactly as they did last year for Mortdecai. There’s an obvious, predictable pattern in how RT users respond to reviews. It’s not random, it’s not “just the internet.” If you are going to share your reviews for the RT audience, then you should at least acknowledge the culture of that audience and anticipate how they are likely to engage with what you post. Saying that you aren’t concerned with RT is a cop out. It’s tantamount to saying you aren’t concerned with your readers. If you are going to continue using RT, you should be more concerned with RT.

        • That’s a good point, and I will consider the RT audience in the future.