From Michael Sragow Gets Reel blog:
Rotten Tomatoes, the review-aggregating website that made "certified fresh" or "certified rotten" as influential as "thumb's up" or "thumb's down," has joined forces with Facebook for "new social features" that "are 'word-of-mouth' on steroids" according to Joe Greenstein, the CEO and founder of Flixster, RT's parent company.
In a release that proclaims "the biggest change to Rotten Tomatoes since it debuted in 1998," RT promises that "users who are currently logged into Facebook will instantly be able to see ratings and reviews from their friends, share what they want to see, and get personal recommendations -- wihout having to register, log in or link accounts."
In addition, on every movie page, RT will position an "Audience Score," derived from all ratings and reviews by Flixster users, right next to the Tomatometer.
I'm not surprised by this development. When I did a piece for the Sun on "the Twitter Effect" a year ago, Flixster communications chief John Singh was its biggest supporter, saying, "Just two years ago, if I saw a movie I loved or I hated, I'd be able to tell a dozen friends, tops. Now, I can be walking out of a theater as the credits are rolling and immediately tell 500 people what I thought. ... It's never been this easy to be this influential."
Is that always a good thing? Getting reviews easily from friends should be fun, but isn't it just brutal to reduce them, in aggregate, to an "Audience Score," and then elevate them to a position next to the Tomatometer?
Isn't the Tomatometer already the worst part of the website, because it encourages thousands of naive readers to think it renders the ultimate judgment on a movie? (Pity the RT reviewer who goes against the status quo.)
And will an Audience Score encourage even more conformity in movie tastes -- and mass thinking without nuance?