“Ghostbusters isn’t even out in theaters as I’m writing this, but over 12,000 people have made their judgment.”
With the new all-female Ghostbusters trailer the lowest-rated trailer in history, with 800,000 down votes as of today, and reports of disgruntled males claiming their childhood has been ruined, let’s turn to the refreshing stats from FiveThirtyEight‘s Walt Hickey, self-described as not having a lot of “skin in the game.”
“But this Ghostbusters thing? It lays bare so, so much of what we’re investigating when it comes to the provenance and reliability of internet ratings. Namely, they’re inconsistent, easily manipulated and probably not worth half the stock we put in them.”
Hickey mentions his preceding investigations into online ratings:
- Looking at ratings from Fandango showed they tend to skew overly positive:
“It’s up to the user to determine which heuristic most accurately matches what they’d consider an ideal rating. (Also, don’t trust always-positive movie reviews from sites trying to use that review to sell you movie tickets.)”
- Men rate TV shows aimed at women lower than shows aimed at women (see “Men are Sabotaging the Online Reviews of TV Shows Aimed at Women“
Back to Ghostbusters.
Given reports of a concerted effort to downgrade the trailer’s ratings, with “users registering with multiple dummy accounts to artificially inflate the number of dislikes,” it’s not surprising Hickey reports that on IMDB, male reviewers outnumbered “female reviewers nearly 5 to 1 and rated Ghostbusters 4 points lower, on average.” This, for a movie, Hickey points out, isn’t even out.
Hickey goes on to discuss the disparity and simplicity of the movie review aggregators, Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic, which is his real interest. But it’s important to point out his comment in the footnotes, that Ghostbusters not only reveals what’s wrong with online movie ratings, but also shows “a lot of other stuff that’s horrible about the internet. It lays that bare, too.”