IMDb scrubbed user ratings from Billy Eichner’s romantic comedy Bros after the movie’s page was apparently targeted by a review-bombing campaign.
The film’s IMDb score plummeted to a low of 5.5/10 before it was removed, swayed by more than 300 one-star reviews out of nearly 700 total. It’s odd for a movie to be savaged like that, considering the film hasn’t even been released in theaters yet (Sept. 30 for U.S. audiences and Oct. 28 in the UK).
So far, the film has only been screened at the Toronto International Film Festival, where it was warmly received by critics; it enjoys a comfortable 95% on Rotten Tomatoes.
It remains to be seen how audiences react when they can actually see the film for themselves; the rush of one-star reviews appears to be the work of a small army of homophobes with far too much time on their hands.
Review bombing has become a common tactic among hateful trolls and toxic fandoms, who seem to view the act of consuming media as a form of activism.
Amazon’s Rings of Power, HBO’s House of the Dragon, and Disney’s Obi-Wan Kenobi and The Little Mermaid have all been used as high-profile battlegrounds for culture warriors who argue against diversity and representation in media.
These debates quickly become as ridiculous as they are hateful, with furious fans reduced to making unhinged arguments, such as claiming that dwarves and mermaids shouldn’t be able to develop melanin – because of too little exposure to sunlight – (yes, this is a real talking point that has been repeated by adults talking about fantasy fiction).
There’s a thriving “anti-woke” industry, particularly on YouTube, in which content creators leverage these reactionary grievances to boost their engagement by emphasizing controversy, framing their audience of bitter so-called “fans” as victims of a grand battle of ideology, fought on film and television.
Ironically, these culture warriors often accuse corporations like Disney and Amazon of “baiting” their fandoms into anger through diverse casting and the occasional LGBT storyline, in an insidious bid to … boost engagement with engineered controversy.
The review-bombing of Bros, a romantic comedy that just happens to focus on two gay men, highlights a sad reality: bigoted backlash to stories that are perceived to deviate from the white, heterosexual norm still seem inevitable.
If viewers don’t want to watch Bros, they don’t have to; turning off the TV isn’t a form of activism either — but it’s better than cynically review-bombing a movie you never even intended to see.
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