Brie Larson Wants Greater Diversity Among Film Critics, Not Just White Dudes

Oscar winner Brie Larson used her time after being honored at Wednesday's  Crystal + Lucy Awards to discuss a topic that has become very important to her, that of diversity in film criticism, or the lack thereof.  It's something we've heard quite a lot about lately, especially with Rotten Tomatoes growing in prominence, but a report by the USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative really drove the point home. It found that of 20,000 reviews of last year's top 100 films 63.9 percent of those reviews were written by white men, versus white women (18.1 percent), underrepresented men (13.8 percent), and underrepresented women (4.1 percent).

Larson said, “Am I saying I hate white dudes? No, I’m not … [but if] you make the movie that is a love letter to women of color, there is an insanely low chance a woman of color will have a chance to see your movie and review your movie.”

She then turned her attention to a specific film's treatment, that of Ava DuVernay's A Wrinkle in Time which received mostly negative reviews upon its release despite a tremendous amount of buzz...

“[Audiences] are not allowed enough chances to read public discourse on these films by the people that the films were made for. I do not need a 40-year-old white dude to tell me what didn’t work for him about ‘[A] Wrinkle in Time.’ It wasn’t made for him. I want to know what it meant to women of color, to biracial women, to teen women of color, to teens that are biracial.”

It should be noted that A Wrinkle in Time has only a 40% Rotten Tomatoes score from critics, but its audience score is actually worse at 30%.  Probably not the best example, but I get what she was going for.

Larson went on to announce that both Sundance and TIFF have pledged to give 20% of their top press credentials to minorities, which I guess bodes well for yours truly's continued access. Booyah!

Larson continued, “It really sucks that reviews matter — but reviews matter. Good reviews out of festivals give small, independent films a fighting chance to be bought and seen. Good reviews help films gross money, good reviews slingshot films into awards contenders,” she said. “A good review can change your life. It changed mine.”

I've actually had this conversation numerous times with other black film critics, and my position, at least when it comes to festivals, is that too often we show no interest in attending any of the major festivals. The publicists love us (they hate us sometimes, too) because there simply aren't that many minority critics who attend, and when I speak to my colleagues it's usually because they intend to go somewhere else that caters directly to minority audiences. I'm living breathing example that Sundance doesn't discriminate; I'm a black guy from an independent blog who has built himself up to the point where I demand a top press credential there. I can get in anywhere I damn well please if I take the initiative to do it, and sadly too many in my group aren't taking that initiative.

In regards to the lack of diversity in film criticism, I guess I fall into the "underrepresented men" category. I take issue with any group being undervalued for their opinion whatever it may be, but Larson has a point. There should be more women, in particular women of color, expressing their view of every kind of movie but definitely those made for them. That said, I'm not willing to sit here and act like my opinion doesn't count because a movie wasn't designed specifically for me, and that is what Larson is doing. A lot of movies I absolutely love weren't made with guys like me in mind. If you trust me to give you my honest opinion then it doesn't matter my race or gender.