Film Forward

How Brie Larson’s Announcement Could Change How You Read Movie Reviews And Who Writes Them

"I want to know what my work means to the world, not a narrow view."

The ways we watch TV and movies have evolved, and it's time for the talent in front of and behind the camera to do the same. Film Forward speaks on the initiatives to diversify the film industry and the stories it tells. New articles premiere every second Thursday of — and throughout — the month.

It's not breaking news that the majority of movie critics are White men, but on the heels of a study confirming that exact thing, two major film festivals are pledging to be more inclusive to critics who, well, aren't that exact demographic.

Recommended

Last night, at the Women in Film Los Angeles Crystal + Lucy Awards, actress Brie Larson announced that both the Sundance Film Festival and the Toronto International Film Festival would be allocating "at least 20 percent of their top-level press passes will go to underrepresented critics."

"Am I saying that I hate White dudes? No, I'm not," Larson joked before getting back to the serious nature of the issue. "But what I am saying is if you make a movie that is a love letter to a woman of color, there is an insanely low chance that a woman of color will have a chance to see your movie and review your movie."

During the rest of her speech — for which she was accepting an award for excellence in film — Larson, who is starring in the upcoming Captain Marvel movie, spoke about the recent USC Annenberg's Inclusion Initiative study investigating the gender and race-ethnicity of film reviewers across the 100 top films from 2017. 

The study — a first of its kind — found that 67 percent of the critics were White men. The rest of the stats showed White women making up 21.5 percent, underrepresented men making up 8.7 percent, and underrepresented women making up just 2.5 percent. This, Larson pointed out, is a "huge disconnect" from the general U.S. population, which breaks down to 30 percent for White men, 30 percent for White women, 20 percent for men of color, and 20 percent for women of color.

The Oscar winner put it as simple as possible by saying that these underrepresented groups "can't review what they don't see." To combat that, Larson asked for those in power to help fix the problem, and make all press lines and junkets as "completely inclusive" as what the Women in Film event had. On top of that, Larson said the average critic pool would match the U.S. population in just five years if each year each of the top 100 films adds nine critics: three White women, three underrepresented men, and three underrepresented women.

"We need to be conscious of our bias and do our part to make sure that everyone is in the room. It really sucks that reviews matter, but reviews matter," Larson explained. "I want to know what my work means to the world, not a narrow view."

Having a diverse pool of movie critics ensures that more voices are being heard and different perspectives on films are being presented to audiences. After all, hearing the same thing over and over is boring. There are already strides being made thanks to sites such as Mediaversity and CherryPicks, but there's still work to be done.

(H/T: Deadline)

Cover image credit: Kathy Hutchins / Shutterstock.com

More From A Plus

GET SOME POSITIVITY IN YOUR INBOX

Subscribe to our newsletter and get the latest news and exclusive updates.