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A New Women-Only Rotten Tomatoes Set to Launch

Cherry Picks

A lone male critic purposefully ruined Lady Bird's perfect Rotten Tomatoes' score. With Cherry Picks, for women reviewers only, he won't get that opportunity. 

For several weeks after its release, Greta Gerwig's Lady Bird -- the coming-of-age story nominated for several best picture awards -- retained a perfect Rotten Tomatoes' score, surpassing Toy Story 2as the most highly-rated movie of all time on the site. That was until a lone male critic with an ax to grind who writes for his own site, Cole Smithey, purposefully sought to ruin the film's rating, not because he thought the film was bad (he gave it a B- review), but because he didn't approve of the perfect rating.

While Lady Bird went on to do just fine despite Smithey's swipe at it, the example of one man attempting to derail the perception of a film written and directed by, about, and starring primarily women, is important. When the women-led Ghostbusters came out in 2016, fanboys, outraged that their antiheroes had been replaced with women, flooded IMDb's ratings with low scores for the film even before there was a chance to screen it. Within the past month, an alt-right group planned to attack Black Panther's Rotten Tomatoes' rating, a plan that went awry considering the film's boffo box office.

What's clear is that the demographics of those with the ability to judge films haven't caught up to the more diverse representation that's beginning to happen in front of the camera. To counter that issue, in least in terms of disgruntled fanboys tanking ratings of movies by and about women, director Miranda Bailey (The Squid and the Whale, Diary of a Teenage Girl), is launching Cherry Picks, a Rotten Tomatoes-esque site where only female critics are allowed to weigh in on the viability of someone's work of art or entertainment.

"We're creating a platform where women can go to and see what other critics that are their gender think about art and media," Bailey told The Hollywood Reporter. "This is a way for us to cherry-pick out female opinion because there's not enough of us."

Bailey announced the launch of Cherry Picks at this week's South by Southwest Festival, pointing out that women comprise half of the moviegoing and streaming audiences, while art and film criticism is still overwhelmingly made up of men.

Cherry Picks will use a fresh bowl of cherries to indicate a "good" film, while pits will warn moviegoers of a "bad" film. But beyond the broad strokes of Emoji-like indicators, the site will warn audiences about films that objectify women or contain violence against women.

The site won't necessarily elevate the ratings of all movies starring women, though. For example, Bailey explained that a movie like Bad Moms, which relies on some gross-out jokes for laughs, may actually score higher on a site like Rotten Tomatoes, because female critics may "have noticed Bad Moms is not a particularly good movie ... and will have a totally different score."

Beyond assessing the content that's already out there, Bailey, who's produced and directed several films, hopes that the site can be a tool to help get more content made by and about women.

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Tracy E. Gilchrist