The push for greater inclusivity in media goes beyond the people making the films and TV shows we watch—it also extends to the critics rendering their opinions on said projects. Studies have shown that film criticism is a male-dominated field; in 2016, research at the Center For The Study Of Women In Television And Film at San Diego State University revealed that 73 percent of the “Top Critics” featured on the popular aggregator Rotten Tomatoes are men.
But Indiewire reports there’s a new website that aims to center women’s voices in the cultural discussion. Founded by filmmaker-actor Miranda Bailey and producer-entrepreneur Rebecca Odes, CherryPicks will feature and aggregate reviews from woman-identifying critics only. In a statement, Bailey said “For years now, our industry has been proclaiming that we need change to include more minorities and females on both sides of the camera. This would be impossible to do in a speedy fashion, unless we can change the perceived desires of consumers.” The Diary Of A Teenage Girl and Swiss Army Man producer said when she and Odes set out to make the site, they asked themselves “How can we possibly change what consumers consider good and worthy content if the majority of critics who tell them what to want are predominately older white males?”
Through CherryPicks, Bailey and Odes are trying to establish a “system that more accurately represents the range of critical and audience opinion, along with high-quality content from both established and new critical female voices” through a “new and nuanced approach to critical aggregation with women at its center.” In an interview with Vulture, Bailey makes it clear that the site won’t just provide a platform to cishet white women, a concern that was expressed not long after news about the launch broke. “We’re going to be a site for people who identify as women. Where men can go to the site as well, but in terms of aggregating reviews, it’ll be from people who identify as women.”
“There are a few I’ve met already, predominantly trans women who are professional critics, and, yes, they’ll be included,” Bailey says. So far, the CherryPicks founders have met with Latinx culture site, Remezcla, but they’re also planning to meet with writers and editors across all underrepresented communities, including African-American and Asian-American writers. The goal is to “open up the narrow guidelines that Rotten Tomatoes has.” Currently, there’s “a very, very narrow [acceptance window] in order to qualify, especially the top critics” at the long-running review site.
Here’s a quick breakdown of CherryPicks’ tiered rating system. A Bowl Of Cherries means “Great. Must see,” while a Pair Of Cherries denotes a “Good. Recommended” film. A Single Cherry is actually a “mixed bag—you might like it, you might not.” But there’s no two ways about The Pits, which is “self-explanatory.” Movies will also be rated by the Cherry Check TM, which will apply a “female lens” to “evaluate films according to on- and off-screen gender representation, and other content considerations relevant to women.” (FYI: Mediaversity does similar work.)
CherryPicks will have a ton of other content, including original reviews, interviews, and Top 10 lists. It’s not set to launch until the fall, but the CherryBites newsletter is already open to subscribers.