Critics vs. America: The Chasm Grows Wider


There’s a reason the People’s Choice Awards and the Oscars don’t crown similar winners.

The former reflects the box office power of a particular film. The latter? Winners are chosen by artists honoring the best creative achievements in a given year. It’s the most prestigious award in film and, arguably, popular culture.

Or at least it was.

Now, the Oscars are deeply politicized, from the films likely to be greenlit, to the checklist movies must follow to qualify for the industry’s highest honor – Best Picture.

The critic-audience chasm, often sizable on populist fare, has grown even larger of late. Blame the media elites or, more specifically, the woke revolution. Modern reviewers don’t just assess a story’s quality. They factor in other elements, from a film’s diversity score to the politics in play.

The more progressive, the better. Even Richard Roeper, no conservative he, noted in 2016 how his fellow critics graded “Ghostbusters” on a curve because of its four female leads. And audiences loathed that reboot.

The chasm between critics and audience has only ballooned since then.

A keen-eyed Bill Maher, an avowed progressive, noted the trend during his Oct. 22 broadcast.

The HBO star cited the Rotten Tomatoes critics’ score for Dave Chappelle’s recent Netflix special, “The Closer,” was roughly 50 points lower than the audience tally (43 percent “rotten” to 95 percent “fresh”)

“It says a lot about the differentiation between real people,” Maher said.

Other examples similarly show the growing divide between the two communities. And there’s no better place to spot it than Rotten Tomatoes. The review aggregator site captures the pulse of both public and “official” critics.

Chappelle knows how that works. His previous Netflix special, 2019’s “Sticks and Stones,” similarly mocked sacred woke cows in his routine. The critic-public split on that special? 35 percent “rotten” from critics, 99 percent “fresh” from general audiences.

Critics similarly disdain faith-based movies. Think “The Passion of the Christ,” one of the most shocking box office smashes in modern times — (49/80). Or recall “God’s Not Dead,” an indie Christian film shredded by critics but embraced by faithful audiences (12/75) and “Miracles from Heaven” (45/80).

Pro-abortion fare draw raves from critics across the board, even if they similarly draw some populist kudos. Think “Obvious Child” (90/72), “Plan B” (96/82) and “Never Rarely Sometimes Always” (99/52).

Political documentaries similarly capture this extreme critic/audience split. Progressive docs like Hulu’s “Hillary” (80/45), “Knock Down the Houses” (99/10) and “Time for Ilhan” (94/40) are catnip to modern critics, who reliably lean to the Left.

The conservative documentary “Created Equal: Clarence Thomas in His Own Words” worked in the other direction – (33/99). So did 2019’s “No Safe Spaces,” a mostly apolitical film fighting on behalf of free speech. That’s no longer a position the Left embraces, thus the 47/99 split.

The problem doesn’t simply exist at Rotten Tomatoes. Watch “The Closer” trailer on YouTube and you’ll notice the teaser nabbed 76K “likes” compared to 1.3K “dislikes” on the platform.

And then there’s “Fauci.” The NatGeo documentary about the most reviled doctor in America drew raves from professional film critics along with two nominations from the Critics Choice Documentary Awards. Even its defenders admitted the film is a hagiography of the infectious disease specialist.

What about the public at large? Over at Rotten Tomatoes, the film, despite garnering an 88 percent rating from critics, earned a withering 2 percent “rotten” rating from non-critics.

The severe split over “Fauci” doesn’t stop there, though. The film’s official trailer earned 8.1K “likes” to 125K “dislikes” at YouTube. Over at, a major movie destination, users trashed the movie to the tune of a 1.8 overall rating … out of 10.

Yet the website, owned by Amazon, decided the ranking seemed suspicious. The audience meter got a reboot, tweaking the ranking to a more palatable 5.8 percent. This reporter reached out to IMDB for an explanation, but none was provided.

Professional critics should consider the public at large first when filing their critiques. They also should set their personal politics aside and judge a film or TV special by its merits.

A conservative critic can see the wit in an aggressively woke comedy like “Booksmart” as much as a liberal can cheer on a smart indie drama like “Gosnell,” detailing the infamous abortion doctor’s crimes.

That increasingly isn’t the case, and the public is starting to notice.

Why does this matter? Critics are meant to be audience surrogates, steering consumers to the best content around and sparing them from cinematic clunkers.

If the current trend continues, or gets worse, the public at large will start tuning out critics and turn to alternate sources of information for their film and TV tips.

The same folks who increasingly ignore our corrupt mainstream press will start doing the same to movie and TV critics.

The views expressed in this opinion piece are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent those of The Daily Wire.

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