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Crying Sexism As The Answer to an Under-performing Film

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by Melissa Silverstein
June 12, 2012 1:00 PM
8 Comments
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Daryl Wein is the co-writer (with partner Zoe Lister Jones) and director of Lola Versus starring Greta Gerwig which opened this Friday to a $31,000 gross in four theatres.  Personally, I didn't love the film.  You can see what I thought here.

I was sent an email written by Daryl Wein over the weekend by Indiewire colleagues where Mr. Wein blamed the box office numbers on sexist older male reviewers "who don't like messy, unapologetic stories with women at the center."

Now there are many times when I might agree with Mr. Wein's comments about male reviewers, but not this time.  And I think that it is quite dangerous to accuse people of sexism just because your film did not perform.  But the accusation is out there so let's take a look and see if there is any semblance of truth to it.

On Rotten Tomatoes the film is at 41% rotten.  There are 32 reviews.  23 are by men and 9 are by women.  (one is by both)

5 of the women liked it; 4 didn't.

7 of the men liked it; 15 didn't.

There are more men and clearly, the men liked it less than the women.  That makes perfect sense to me.  The harder thing to assess is age of the critics.  Some of the critics have pictures on their site and you can guess age but this is not going to get anywhere near close to being correct and scientific. From what I can tell there are older women and older men who both liked and disliked the film. 

Teasing it out further: Owen Gleiberman from Entertainment Weekly liked it.  James Rocchi from MSN movies liked it.  Peter Debruge from Variety liked it.  Mary Pols from Time did not like it.  Elizabeth Weitzman from NY Daily News did not like it.

I find it offensive that Daryl Wein just decided that he could stir up some press and controversy by accusing older male critics of sexism.  He just lost all credibility in my book.  If people just throw out the term to get attention it will serve to dilute it when there is actually a time when there is something sexist to complain about. 

'Lola Versus' Filmmakers Blame 'Older Male Critics' For Movie's Box Office Struggles (Indiewire)

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More: Greta Gerwig, Sexism, Reviews

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8 Comments

  • shaz | June 13, 2012 2:15 PMReply

    This isn’t even a story. The film opened in two markets, and Rotten Tomatoes doesn’t account for all reviews. Also, Dave Germain proclaimed the following hostile remark: “a good slap in the face is the best medicine for a loved one caught up in her own little train wreck of a love life. That's what Lola needs and deserves. And it's what much of the audience will be hoping for - Lola versus palm to the cheek." Even worse was Robin Clifford who wrote: "The story is merely a series of Lola’s screw ups, which in a normal world would result with her being stoned to death by the angry mob of the many people she hurts." Melissa, you should read the reviews before you make a posting that is not well–researched.

  • Anonymous | June 13, 2012 1:59 PMReply

    I find it interesting how quickly you looked into evidence in order to discredit a male producer's sexism claim, but are quick to cry sexism on so many other things without thinking deeper.

  • Alt troll | June 13, 2012 8:10 AMReply

    oh dear, teh older lady critic is offended :( Plz wake me when you remember what criticism actually means. Zzzzzz

  • D. Martin | June 13, 2012 12:04 AMReply

    One reason the argument you put forth in this article is flawed is that women can be sexist, too. And yes, I mean against women. It's just how systemic sexism works. The evidence you present—merely the percentages of men who liked the film v. women who do—is not nearly in depth enough to draw a conclusion in either direction in terms of sexism. One would have to asses the critics' reasons for not liking the film, and how much the liked/disliked the film to even come close to any kind of reasonable theory, here. I do think Wein may have been hasty in his sexism claim, but you were also hasty to dismiss it. If one is going to make sweeping claims on serious issues, please have the evidence to make a legitimate point or else you are doing a disservice to the cause .

  • SunFlowerEnthusiast | June 12, 2012 7:11 PMReply

    I think its kind of hard to make this comparison because there are so many more male critics than female critics. But either way, i personally think the movie is not very good. I don't think his movies are going to get better if he blames all it's flaws on sexism instead of legitimately considering what he could improve on

  • SunFlowerEnthusiast | June 12, 2012 7:12 PM

    "flaws" should be "criticisms", sorry.

  • Kevin | June 12, 2012 6:13 PMReply

    It looks like the filmmakers might actually be right here. I took a closer look, and if you compile all of the legitimate reviews online from media sources on google for "Lola Versus" there appear to be 71 in total as of today. Rotten Tomatoes only accounts for 32. That is less than 1/2 of the overall statistical pool. Of the male critics, only 10 were positive, 3 were mixed, and 30 were negative. Of the female critics, there were 19 positive, 3 mixed, and only 6 negative. That breaks down to 68% positive reviews from women, and only 23% positive reviews from men. Or, depending how you look at it, 70% negative reviews from men and 21% negative reviews from women.

  • Jay | June 12, 2012 1:23 PMReply

    Well, Fein has to reach for something: if his baby project failed, and failed badly, what else is he to do?

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