I’m disappointed that I have to publish this letter, but it has come to our attention that many false allegations have been made against our website and team of writers. On behalf of The Young Folks, I’m here to clear up these accusations regarding our review of Captain America: Civil War.
Our review of Civil War is not fabricated or compromised. One of our critics, Michael Fairbanks, saw the film at an advance screening and provided his honest opinion on the film.
Our editors approve all articles and reviews before they are published. I was the editor who approved the Civil War review. I stand by my choice to publish the review. It was not published as clickbait or to gain some kind of notoriety for this website. If you venture outside of the review and check out our other content, you will see that clickbait is not our thing, and it will never be our thing.
We were not paid by a competing studio to publish a negative review. This conspiracy is completely ludicrous. I would also like to take this moment to point out that all of our writing staff are volunteers. No one, including the editors, are compensated for their contributions. The owners make very little income off the site and are employed with full time jobs elsewhere.
The day the review was published, Michael Fairbanks went to IMDb on his own volition to discuss the film and his review with fellow Marvel and film fans. At the time, the editors and staff were not aware that Michael was discussing his review on IMDb. However, we fully believe that Michael’s intentions were good, if misguided. Unfortunately, his responses in this IMDb thread have been manipulated, misinterpreted and spread around inaccurately throughout the film and comic book online community. I once again reiterate the following:
- This is not Michael’s website. This site is owned and run by Luciana Villalba and me. Michael has not gained any kind of monetary compensation since publishing the review.
- This review was not compromised to be used as clickbait. We carefully select writers to join our staff, and we trust all of them, including Michael. His opinion of the film is honest.
- Michael has not entered any online conversations about the film or his review since the afternoon of April 15. Any people claiming to be him are imposters.
- Screenshots of the IMDb thread Michael posted in have been manipulated to imply that he posted the review for clicks. If you look closely, the question Michael is replying to is closed, purposely not shown in that screenshot. Our site did go down that day. We were having server issues throughout the week, and in all honesty, the traffic was higher than usual because of the review, which caused the site to go down.
The evening of April 15, I made the decision to temporarily close the comments section on the review. We have a Comment Policy, and many people were violating it. In order to properly moderate the section, we needed to pause the conversations for a while. Once I finished combing through the comments, I reopened them. I continue to check them each day, so that no one violates our policy, which you can read here.
Moving on, I have some additional comments to make about this “experience.”
This has definitely been a learning experience for the team and especially me as an editor. I admit that posting the review early was a mistake. This wouldn’t have changed the actual review, but I should have scheduled it closer to the film’s release date.
I also should have picked a different pull quote when I added the review to Rotten Tomatoes. That was a mistake, and I will be especially careful when choosing pull quotes for future reviews. Since the review is rated as a C, I spoke with Michael before adding the review to Rotten Tomatoes, and we both agreed that his review was more “rotten” than “fresh.”
Another thing I should have done earlier is establish a Code of Conduct for our staff to follow. I now know that having set of guidelines on how to behave and react to uncomfortable and negative remarks online can be very helpful. This week, I internally provided that set of guidelines to The Young Folks staff and fully expect them to follow those new standards from now on.
I’m very thankful and humbled that Rotten Tomatoes considers The Young Folks to be a Tomato-Approved publication since 2013, and I hate that one dissenting opinion can cause a group of people to call our legitimacy into question. After all these years, why is our eligibility being called into question now? Have you read any of our content other than this single review?
We have been around since 2010, growing slowly but surely as a community for young writers. Keyword: YOUNG. Many comments have been made about our age and our writing talents. For one thing, any condescending comments about our age is a form of discrimination. As for our writing skills, that is frankly a matter of opinion. Whether you take this chance to tear us down or provide constructive criticism is all on you. However, let me just say that from now on, we’re only paying attention to the latter.
For many of our writers, The Young Folks has been a safe place to hone their writing skills and share their opinions on entertainment. These past couple weeks have made it much harder to maintain that safe place. Threats, lies and offensive remarks have been thrown at us in our comments section and social media. It has to stop. This is no place for bullying, tasteless commentary and general rudeness.
“Well, that’s the Internet.” “You need thicker skin.” You know what? I’m not going to take this rudeness lying down. There is NO excuse to threaten someone’s life over a movie review. There is NO excuse to make an offensive remark to someone over a movie review. There is NO excuse to tear someone down without even trying to understand our site’s mission – over a movie review.
It’s been a tough couple weeks. We have not enjoyed the overall response to this review at all. We have not reaped any benefits like many claim. One of our critics was just being truthful about a movie he didn’t like. His review does not represent the entire staff’s view of the film, but I can say that we all stand behind an honest review.
Special thanks to Luciana, Allyson and Ryan for their guidance in writing this letter. We ask that you please respect our Comment Policy when responding to this post.
Co-Founder & Editor, TheYoungFolks.com