Monday, April 4, 2016

6-year-old Zootopia fans ask for a 100% Rotten Tomatoes rating

Posted By on April 4, 2016, 8:49 AM

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Some people really want their favorite movies to have perfect Rotten Tomatoes scores. Some of those people are even adorable 6-year-old twins.

For those who may not already be aware, I became somewhat infamous last month after my review of Zootopia became one of only two that was designated by the review aggregation site Rotten Tomatoes with its "rotten" icon. Some writers thoughtfully explored why it was that people seemed to get so worked up about anyone who dared to deviate from the consensus, and I opted to let those pieces do the talking.

But over the weekend, I received an email from a pair of 6-year-old twins, as dictated to their mother. Because they're minors, and because the mother has not as yet granted permission, I'm choosing not to identify the writers, but they said they "super-duper love the movie Zootopia," and "want Zootopia to have 100% on Rotten Tomatoes." And they asked that I "change the tomato to Fresh." 

It would have been easy to ignore the email, or perhaps even to assume that the "6-year-old twins" thing was just a front for a particularly sad adult (who attached a picture of 6-year-old twins just so I could see whose hearts I was breaking). Instead, I decided to respond. Below, in full, is that response.

"Thank you for taking the time to write. People are passionate about movies—and about all the art that they love—which is why I have devoted my career to writing about them. And I'm thrilled that Zootopia was a special movie for you.

I should clarify first of all that I have no control at all over Rotten Tomatoes. I wrote a review (in which I rated it 2-1/2 stars out of 4), and Rotten Tomatoes' editors chose to give it a "rotten" designation. That was their choice, and not mine. Other 2-1/2 reviews of Zootopia did not necessarily receive that "rotten" symbol. In part, your request would be better directed to them.

But the more serious question you seem to be asking is whether I would change my review to be more positive. At this time, I have no reason to do so, which isn't to say that I haven't changed my mind many times over the years about movies I've reviewed. Sometimes I like them more, and sometimes I like them less, but whenever I feel I've learned or seen something new, I'll be honest enough to say so. Right now, what I wrote about Zootopia honestly represents my feelings about it, and that's the review I'm comfortable defending.

What I'd really hope, however, is that you think about reviews differently, including (and maybe especially) those you disagree with. My job as a professional critic isn't to tell people what to think, or to give them assurance that what they thought about a movie is "right." All I can do is think honestly about how I reacted, and perhaps help people see something in a movie that they might not have seen otherwise. The fact that I didn't love Zootopia doesn't change how much you did love it, and that's never my intention. But you should become comfortable with the idea that there are opinions about things out in the world that will be different from yours, and you can be confident in your own opinions without feeling that the other opinions out there are a problem that needs to be solved. Rotten Tomatoes' score for Zootopia just doesn't matter. If that movie changed you, or made you happy, or made you think, that matters.

Best regards,
Scott Renshaw"
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