In the wake of #OscarsSoWhite and the larger conversation about diversity and inclusion in Hollywood, much of the focus has been on those on opposite sides of the camera -- actors, directors, writers, crew members and others. And up until recently, you’d have been hard pressed to find anything looking at inclusion and diversity among film journalists and critics.
Last month, the Annenberg Inclusion Initiative at USC published a first-of-its-kind study looking at diversity among film critics that came to a decidedly unstartling conclusion: most film critics are white guys. The study looked at nearly 20,000 reviews of the 100 top-grossing movies of 2017 according to Rotten Tomatoes and found that white men wrote 63.9 percent of those reviews compared to 18.1 percent written by white women, 13.8 percent by men of color, and 4.1 percent written by women of color.
Two days after the study’s release, actress Brie Larson took time to address the issue as she was being honored at the Women in Film’s Crystal + Lucy Awards, calling for more diversity among film journalists and arguing for the importance of female critics and critics of color to have their voices heard when it comes to reviewing movies that star or focus on women and people of color. “It really sucks that reviews matter, but reviews matter,” Larson said, alluding to the fact that small films like “Room,” for which she won the Oscar for Best Actress, often get the chance to be bought and seen by a larger audience because of good reviews coming out of festivals where they’re first shown.
Earlier this month, the Los Angeles Times asked 14 film critics of diverse background for their take on the matter and some ideas about what could be done to increase diversity among film critics. Three of those critics were FilmWeek critics Tim Cogshell, Claudia Puig, and Justin Chang, who went on to write his own analysis for the paper. The trio joins Larry for FilmWeek along with Charles Solomon to talk about what can be done to improve diversity and inclusion among female critics and critics of color.
Claudia Puig, film critic for KPCC and president of the Los Angeles Film Critics Association; she tweets @ClaudiaPuig
Tim Cogshell, film critic for KPCC, Alt-Film Guide and CineGods.com; he tweets @CinemaInMind
Charles Solomon, film critic for KPCC, Animation Scoop and Animation Magazine