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Internet Trolls and Critics in the Age of Rotten Tomatoes - A Look at the Critical Response to GOTTI

Hate, intolerance, and cruelty are the most valued currencies in the digital age. Online publications deal in the same eye-catching tabloid headlines that were once exclusive to rags like WEEKLY WORLD NEWS and the NATIONAL ENQUIRER. The monetization of clicks is ruining many forms of journalism and film criticism is just one of them. When organizations can see what headlines are generating revenue its only natural that sensationalism would start to rise. There is no consorted hivemind like conspiracy to destroy certain films but rather internet activity that has boosted a certain type of writer. From the outside, online film critics share quite a bit with their Twitter troll counterparts.

The critical response to John Travolta's passion project Gotti has been less than favorable, in fact, it has been downright abysmal. A project over ten years in the making, Travolta has poured his heart and soul into this venture. And many writers seem to take pleasure in the film's failure.

I personally feel that Rotten Tomatoes is terrible for film criticism because an algorithm will never capture the nuances that build an opinion. With that being said most of the controversy surrounding GOTTI is on that oddly valuable RT score.

Movie goes have been far kinder to the film giving it mostly positive reviews. Some critics have responded to this with humor.

But others see a darker reason for the disparate views.

This is where it gets strange. Some online writers have started to say that the people involved with GOTTI are artificially inflating the numbers. With no evidence, they are claiming fraud? Again I don't think this type of writing speaks to any sort of conspiracy, but rather a lack of integrity on the part of the writer. 

Last year film critics got all worked up when one writer had the nerve to give LADYBIRD a negative review. The film had one of the longest runs at 100% on the Tomatometer and the vast majority of online critics wanted to see it stay that way. They all seemed to love the story behind a film being universally praised. The little indie movie that could. It's great that everyone was onboard for supporting a truly special independent film, but that impulse is far removed from criticism. It's the hivemind nonsense that we see from DC fanboys and the make STAR WARS great again crowd.

Universal praise and condemnation both make me equally skeptical. In the case of GOTTI, I have no problem believing 75% of audiences liked it. But when it gets 0% from the critics, it just seems off. Travolta insisted the film have a theatrical run in hopes for an awards campaign. Can he be that confident and the movie be that bad? I guess it's possible, but to be perfectly honest when all the critics agree it starts to sound like they are listening to each other instead of doing their jobs. Its the inverse of the LADYBIRD phenomenon.

One last thing, critics, and audiences often have drastically different reactions to films, this is nothing new. GOTTI isn't blazing a new trail on this one. Some random examples below. Who do you think got it right, the critics or the audiences?


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