CherryPicks to aggregate exclusively female reviews as Rotten Tomatoes alternative
And in the wake of Frances McDormand calling for inclusion riders in her Oscars speech, even more questions are being asked about how to ensure every facet of the entertainment industry is more inclusive. Entertainment journalism is no exception. The majority of critics published at major outlets are male, which consequently means that the opinions and perspectives aggregated on sites like Rotten Tomatoes are also predominantly male.
Producer Miranda Bailey is here to offer an alternative to that with her new website CherryPicks, which is billed as “a new voice in the critical conversation,” according to a mission statement. “We’ll give you reviews from exclusively female critics in film, TV, music, and more. This is where you can find out what women like, and what they don’t.”
Bailey announced the website at a panel at SXSW, the annual festival that combines music, film, television, tech, and more over several days in Austin, Texas. Bailey is launching the site with Rebecca Odets, whose bio describes her as “an innovator at the intersection of women, girls, and technology for over 20 years.”
CherryPicks puts a new twist on Rotten Tomatoes’ use of ripe, red tomatoes and green splats: Here, films will be marked with either a bowl of cherries or a pit. Bailey says the idea for the site wasn’t sparked by #MeToo and Time’s Up, but instead came last fall when she released Lake Bell’s I Do … Until I Don’t and noticed that it received lackluster reviews despite being popular among female audiences.
“When you have 700-plus male reviewers registered on Rotten Tomatoes and 100-and-something female reviewers, it’s really kind of hard to get your voice out,” Bailey tells EW. “I wanted to do something that shows what women who are professional critics or professional writers think like and feel like.”
Bailey also notes that the site will seek to promote more women going into criticism with a section called Cherry Blossoms, which will feature reviews from female student journalists writing for their school papers, websites, and such.
The site will also have less strict guidelines that Rotten Tomatoes’ certified reviewer rules to ensure certain blogs and voices are included, particularly because of the disparity between male and female critics at major outlets. “Basically to be a ‘top critic’ the only way you could be a top critic is if you’re a white man because that’s who people hire,” she says.
Interested parties can currently subscribe to the CherryPicks newsletter to begin receiving regular updates. The first newsletter will go out Wednesday, and the site will launch officially this fall.
“We talk in the industry about how much we want to have more women behind the camera, but at the end of the day the producers and the studios make what the consumer wants,” Bailey says. “Now the consumers are listening to a gatekeeping system who tell me what is worth spending money or not, and that’s where the numbers are off. If I could get that into that area and level the playing field of what goes directly to the consumer, then we can really say that there’s an audience for this, because obviously there is an audience for female-driven stuff.”