Six underrepresented critics groups – the African American Film Critics Association (AAFCA), the Features Forum of the Asian American Journalists Association (AAJA), The Society of LGBTQ Entertainment Critics (GALECA), the Latino Entertainment Journalists Association (LEJA), the Online Association of Female Film Critics (OAFFC) and TIME’S UP Entertainment – have joined forces to form a coalition of equality, fair pay and voice across media in the form of Critics Groups for Equality in Media (CGEM).
The main goals of CGEM are to garner better pay for our sometimes poorly treated and/or disrespected members, boost inclusion and diversity at newspapers, magazines, websites and to gain better access from studios and networks who still have difficulty recognizing the importance and benefits of engaging with and providing access to underrepresented segments of our field who cover the entertainment industry in its many forms.
The official press release from the CGEM:
“Each of our groups represents a unique perspective – often informed by oppression – that enriches and shapes society,” said John Griffiths, GALECA’s Executive Director. “Yet, even amid today’s stepped-up push for diversity and inclusivity progress has been slow and many fail to realize that our group’s voices—if amplified to match their true value—can provide a roadmap for boosting creativity, box office, ratings and excitement for a project. Our goal is to break down those barriers for ourselves, for audiences and for the next generation of entertainment journalists.”
Gil Robertson, AAFCA co-founder and president, added “When studios, networks and other entertainment organizations work in partnership with our organizations and members, we’ve seen how that synergy creates evolved thinking and inspired perspectives. It’s a win for everyone, especially audiences. However, that doesn’t happen nearly enough and we’re hoping that the launch of CGEM can help forge that path.”
“CGEM’s formation comes at a critical time in the industry,” notes Mariecar Mendoza, Director of the Asian American Journalists Association’s Features Forum. “When we talk about how representation matters in Hollywood, we should not forget that representation in the media is just as important. Ensuring that we provide access to a diverse pool of entertainment journalists brings new perspective and can help the media keep Hollywood accountable.”
Clayton Davis, Founder and President of the Latino Entertainment Journalists Association added, “The Latino voice is sadly lacking on the screen and via bylines, even though our community buys 23 percent of America’s movie tickets,” (Davis is referring to a 2017 report by the Motion Picture Association of America). “We need more full-blooded Latino faces in movies and TV, in newsrooms, junkets and at press screenings.”
Mara Grobins Nasatir, Director of Initiatives for TIME’S UP Entertainment, noted that, according to research from USC professor Dr. Stacy Smith, while America’s population is over 50-percent female, only 22 percent of the reviews of the nation’s top 100 movies of 2017 listed on Rotten Tomatoes—the powerful critics aggregate—were written by women. Recent similar studies haven’t shown much improvement. “Early critical response to a movie determines important factors such as marketing budget and distribution,” said Nasatir, explaining why Time’s Up Entertainment’s CRITICIAL database lives up to its name. “Without greater diversity among the critical voices responding to content, not all movies, directors, writers and creators are given the same opportunities to succeed.”
“Too often, women’s voices in film criticism are minimized, dismissed, or altogether ignored,” added Louisa Moore, President of the Online Association of Female Film Critics. “As an organization designed to promote diverse viewpoints in media commentary, the OAFFC is proud to be a member of CGEM. This alliance is a reminder that the landscape of modern film criticism is changing.”
Plus, “The critics associations in CGEM trumpet and award both mainstream and niche titles,” said Griffiths, noting that his LGBTQ critics group’s 2012 Film of the Year award went to Argo. “But we can’t get our messages out to the world if celebrities and filmmakers, or their reps, don’t harness our tipping-point power.”
– Gil Robertson, President, AAFCA: African American Film Critics Association, @theaafca
– Maricar Mendoza, Director, AAJA: Asian American Journalists Association Features Forum, @aaja
– John Griffiths, Executive Director, GALECA: The Society of LGBTQ Entertainment Critics, @DorianAwards
– Clayton Davis, President, LEJA: Latino Entertainment Journalists Association, @LEJALatino
– Louisa Moore, President, OAFFC: Online Association of Female Film Critics, @theOAFFC
– Mara Grobins Nasatir, Director of Initiatives, TIME’S UP Entertainment, @TIMESUPNOW