Back in October, Martin Scorsese dismissed Rotten Tomatoes and other review aggregation websites, saying that they “have absolutely nothing to do with real film criticism” and that they “rate a picture the way you’d rate a horse at the racetrack. He says condensing a movie down to a score—or a “Rotten” or “Fresh” rating—reduces the filmmaker to a “content manufacturer” rather than someone creating art. It’s a solid point, even if some of the blame should fall on Rotten Tomatoes users who refuse to actually read the reviews being aggregated, and Scorsese is refusing to let it go.
In a speech he gave while accepting an award at the Turner Classic Movies festival (via Entertainment Weekly), Scorsese brought up the word “content” again and expanded on his initial Rotten Tomatoes argument. He says allowing audiences to see a wave of review scores prevents them from having to take the time and actually see a movie before they “ruminate and maybe make a decision for themselves.” Once again, he says sites like that reduce a film to “content,” which makes it no different from a TV show, a movie trailer, “a how-to video on a coffee-maker,” or a Super Bowl commercial.
“[Audiences] can also turn a picture off and go straight to the next piece of content,” Scorsese says in an apparent shot at streaming services, adding, “If there’s no sense of value tied to a given movie, of course, it can be sampled in bits and pieces and just forgotten.” It’s still a good point, but it also still seems like his issue is bigger than just Rotten Tomatoes.