Nothing Will Stop Review-Bombing

Online trolls can make or break a show’s reputation

Galadriel is searching for orcs to vanquish in Amazon Prime’s new show The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power, but Amazon has a bigger monster to defeat: the online troll.

According to a report in The Hollywood Reporter, the retail and streaming giant suspended user reviews on Amazon and issued a 72-hour moratorium on IMDb user reviews for the show after it got “review-bombed” shortly after its release. The show has divided critics and audiences. As of this writing, Rings of Power has an 84% “fresh” rating among critics and a 39% “rotten” rating among viewers on Rotten Tomatoes. Over at IMDb, the show holds down a 6.8/10 rating. There are no reviews of the show on Amazon proper, since Amazon suspended reviews of the show on its site entirely. Amazon told THR it instituted the 72-hour rule for all of its shows over the summer.

The concept of “review-bombing,” where users rush to post one-star reviews of a video game, movie or TV show because of the product’s perceived views on politics or race instead of the actual quality of the work, has sadly become a routine part of releasing anything online these days.

One problem people have with Rings of Power seems to be that the show has the audacity to include Black elves and dwarves, as if imagining non-white fictional beings was too much to fathom. Elon Musk apparently thinks Tolkien is “turning in his grave” at the new show:

“Almost every male character so far is a coward, a jerk or both. Only Galadriel is brave, smart and nice.”

However, there are many more people who have issues with the show’s acting, pacing and deviation from Tolkien’s source material. Whatever the case, the Rings of Power is just the latest show to experience this phenomenon.

She-Hulk’s current IMDb rating is a 5.1/10, with an 87% “fresh” rating from critics and a 50% rotten rating from viewers. According to Forbes, 35.8% of all of She-Hulk’s IMDb reviews are one-star reviews –– the highest percentage of one-star reviews of any of Disney+ MCU show. Ms. Marvel came in second, at 22.2%.

People review-bomb the MCU a lot, actually. Other notable examples include The Eternals, which was called “woke” for its depiction of an LGBTQ family (but is it really inclusion when it can be easily edited for overseas markets?) and Captain Marvel, who viewers claimed was a “Mary Sue.”  Non-Marvel examples include The Last Jedi and the 2016, all-woman version of Ghostbusters.

Everyone’s a critic, and the internet further democratized the art of pop culture criticism. The basic job of a critic is to say whether or not something is good and explain why. If it’s not good, the critic should give examples of something that’s better.

Review-bombing lets people off the hook from trying to provide a better way; like the snow troll in Rings of Power, it just yells for the sake of yelling. Unlike in Rings of Power, however, nothing will vanquish this review-bombing monster. It’s just the next big foe that any genre film or TV show has to face.

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Jake Harris

Jake Harris is a Texas-based journalist whose writing about pop culture and entertainment has appeared in the Austin American-Statesman, the Chattanooga Times Free Press, the Nashville Scene and more. You can find more of his writings at jakeharrisbog.com or through his pop culture newsletter, Jacob's Letter.

3 thoughts on “Nothing Will Stop Review-Bombing

  • September 6, 2022 at 12:29 pm
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    Ever think maybe if you want to take creative liberty that you should do it with your own Intellectual property? You’re saying review bombing but maybe consider ALOT of people think it’s trash? She hulk is embarrassing and rings of power is a basardization of the source material… this is white washing but with other races and sexes…wrong is wrong but people are so basic now they can’t see past their own bias. I love a good female hero… give me Ripley over Charlize Theron in atomic blonde…make me believe rather then feed me a narrative that’s painfully unreasonable. The problem with critics like you is the painful biased we see in your writing..get honest…Tolkien is absolutely rolling in his grave… he wrote a epic to give English regional folk lore….in depth and fleshed out in such a fine detail that it’s iconic… but people want to change it to suit their needs but much like bree larson spewed out. It wasn’t written for you, Don’t take creative liberty that you’ve not earned. the reviews simply say absolutely not and nothing more.

    Reply
    • September 6, 2022 at 1:41 pm
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      Jake is not a reviewer, he is merely reporting on the practice of review bombing. We published a very critical review of Rings of Power earlier in the week. Our reviewer did not mention race, he just thought the show wasn’t very true to Tolkien.

      Reply
  • September 7, 2022 at 4:28 am
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    Nobody has a problem with a black elf or a female main protagonist.
    The problem is using Tolkien story to sell something completely different from that specific lore.
    This is Tolkien lore, a world he built from his imagination.
    If you want to tell an original story than do not use Tolkien’s name attached to it.

    Reply

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