Even before I was reviewing movies for The Daily Times, I often would check a film’s Rotten Tomatoes score before going to see it. Generally, unless a film had a ridiculously low score, RT wouldn’t dissuade me from going. In fact, I sometimes disagree with the critics’ consensus, such as in 2018’s “Widows,” which was Certified Fresh by critics while I thought the film was a bit of a snoozer.
I recognize that I might not be speaking a language some of you understand, as not everyone is as obsessed with movies as I am, so please let me explain.
Rotten Tomatoes was launched in 1998 and is a review-aggregation website for film and television. The site uses reviews from critics all around the world to create a rating for a film or TV show. For example, Rotten Tomatoes said “Widows” is rated at 91 percent out of 100 — which is seriously too high a number, by far — but this means that 91 percent of reporting critics deem the film to be “fresh.”
Critics input their film/TV reviews and can either rate a film as “fresh” or “rotten.” You can figure out what each choice means. Something I didn’t realize, by the way? Rotten Tomatoes was started by three University of Berkley undergrads. (Why wasn’t I coming up with multi-million dollar ideas when I was 20 years old?)
But, I digress. The college students chose the name based on an old habit that audiences used to have: throwing rotten tomatoes at a performer or screen when they were displeased with the show. The site originally served as one college fanboy’s ode to Jackie Chan films and grew from there, including more and more films. The website has gone through several owners, including IGN, Flixster, Warner Bros., and its current bosses, Fandango.
Last bit of information you need to know: That rating percentage is called “The Tomatometer®,” which every film in the database has a place upon. The score is based on hundreds of reviews from Rotten Tomato-approved critics. If 60 percent of critics say a film is “fresh,” a red tomato is displayed on the site. A percentage less than that garners a big green splat, though. (Just so you know, a “Certified Fresh” film has special qualifications it must meet, from a percentage above 70 percent to the number of reviewers.)
You might be wondering why I’m telling you all of this, and I don’t blame you. But, there’s a method to my madness (this time anyway).
Back in October, I received an email from a Rotten Tomatoes staffer telling me “the team” would like to approve me for the site. She asked a simple question: “Are you interested?”
In a rather anticlimactic move, I never saw her email. She followed up in December, luckily. The site was eager to have me, even offering to put up past reviews, a number that hovers around 250-300 at this point. After some thought and a bit of mind-blown deliberation, I decided to go for it.
I’ve been writing reviews for five years now. Before that, I was a columnist for the now-defunct “Sleepin’ Single” and “My Way” Sunday offerings, which started in 2010. For nearly a decade, I’ve been sharing my opinions, thoughts, hopes and dreams with the readers of Blount County. And there are plenty of times, Blount County shares its thoughts and opinions with me.
And now, for some reason I don’t totally understand, I’m sharing those same thoughts and opinions on a national level. I’ve become an influencer on the very website I’ve sought out whenever I’ve been in a state of movie-going conundrum, which is more times than I’d care to admit.
(Steve Wildsmith — former Weekend editor and a dear friend who drives me batty — encouraged me to share the Rotten Tomatoes news with y’all. For those of you that are curious, you can check out my fresh/rotten ratings at www.rottentomatoes.com/critic/amanda-greever/. I’m still getting past reviews up, and I need to send them a photo to put up — the one you all see every week is a bit out of date.)
Anyway, I don’t know if I can welcome myself to the Rotten Tomatoes crew – but I’m going to do it anyway. Look out world, here I come.