Rotten Tomatoes is intended to be a helpful system for rapidly seeing what critics are saying about a movie or TV show, but some film fans who take the service too seriously have created all sorts of conspiracies about the site itself having their own agenda, the latest example being a mediocre review that Joker is considered “Rotten,” while Marvel films with the same score from the same critics.
Twitter questioning the Reviewers
— Alex (@koothrapalam) September 11, 2019
Honest question, you gave the film "3 out of 5 stars" which is on the pretty good side, but the review is shown as a negative review on rotten tomatoes??
— Matt (@radewart) September 5, 2019
The above tweet notes that critic Nicholas Barber, who reviewed Joker for BBC.com, gave the film three stars out of five, which is deemed Rotten on the site. However, Barber also gave Spider-Man: Far From Home a three stars, which is considered Fresh on the site.
What complicates matters is that Barber himself claims that he isn’t responsible for deciding between the Fresh or Rotten distinction.
When a critic uses Rotten Tomatoes to add their review for a film or TV show, they are offered the opportunity to determine whether the film is Fresh or Rotten, while also including the rating it was given in the published review. Neither Fresh nor Rotten is the default selection through these publishing tools, with either of the two ratings having to be selected to contribute to the review.
Conflicting values for stars
It’s also worth noting that this isn’t the first time Barber, or any other critic, has given films the same numerical value, only for the Fresh/Rotten binary to offer conflicting reports.