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Film critics are overwhelmingly white and male, study finds

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Emily Reynolds
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Film critics are overwhelmingly white and male, a new study has found. 

A team from the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism has found that critics are overwhelmingly white and male. 

Of 20,000 reviews of 2017’s top 100 top-grossing films, only 22.2% were written by women, compared to 77.8% written by men. The figure remained the same for critics at top publications, with 76% of reviews written by men. 

A shocking 82% of reviewers were white, with only 18% coming from non-white backgrounds. Women of colour only wrote 2.5% of reviews compared to 67.3%. 

The authors have outlined their findings in a report entitled ‘Critics Choice?’. 

The film industry as a whole also lacks diversity

In 2017, an analysis of 900 films from the University of Southern California found that race, gender, disability and sexuality were all depicted incredibly poorly.

Of the top 100 grossing films of 2016, only 34 had a female lead; only 8 had a woman lead aged over 45. 76% of films had no speaking LGBT characters, with 79% of those who did speak white. 25 of the top 100 films had no speaking black characters, 44 had no speaking Asian characters, and 54 had no speaking Latino characters.

Critical voices are not adequately reflecting audiences, the study demonstrates. 

Stacy L Smith, co-author of the study and founder of the Annenberg Inclusion Initiative, also noted a significant absence of women of colour working as reviewers. 

“We’ve seen the ramifications of an industry in which the content sold to audiences is created and reviewed by individuals who are primarily white men,” she said. “Creating inclusive hiring practices at every stage of the film-making and review process is essential to meeting business imperatives and ensuring that we see diverse perspectives reflected in society.” 

And Marc Choueiti, lead author, said that “even among top critics, the words of white and male critics fill a greater share of the conversation than females and people of colour”. 

“Re-examining the definition of a top critic or simply casting a wider net can be the opportunity to open up and diversify the voices heard in the critic space,” he said. 

Image: Unsplash /  Kilyan Sockalingum