Amazon Prime Video to bad faith internet trolls: You shall not pass!
The streaming giant has taken action against disingenuous “review bombers” on their own platform, Variety has reported. A 72-hour delay now exists for user-generated reviews, time enough for a confirmation that the opinion expressed is a genuine, and not part of a larger culture war forgery or (to put it in science fiction terms) the work of a “bot.” Whether or not this evaluation is done by a human being or an elite AI (if any company has one, it would be Amazon) is currently unknown, making this all even more strange.
For people who are not extremely online, the above paragraph may sound like baffling, so let’s take a step back. Internet trolls with nothing constructive to do with their time have taken to posting negative reviews on shows and films, oftentimes without even watching the material, because they feel it violates how the property oughta be. More often than not, the anger stems from diversity in the casting. With Amazon’s Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power, for example, there has been much consternation about actors of color being cast as elves and harfoots (which, it’s worth pointing out, are make-believe.)
This sort of thing is not new in “fandom” circles—indeed, some bottom-feeders actually manage to eke out a living out of complaining on YouTube that their television shows are “too woke.”
Amazon’s move to take the time to differentiate between actual criticism from the gripes of trolls comes after Rotten Tomatoes’s decision in 2019 to prevent audience ratings until a movie was out in theaters. Prior to this, trolls and computer-scripted bots had been targeting films well in advance, and almost always because women or minorities were prominent in the project. Currently, however, once a film or show is “out” the troll armies are able to storm RT’s castle.
The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power currently has an 84 percent from critics and an audience score of 36 percent. While discrepancies are not unheard of, one need not have Eye of Sauron-level vision to see what’s going on here.
In June of this year, Ewan McGregor fought back against those who were criticizing the Black actress Moses Ingram, saying, “you’re no Star Wars fan in my mind” in a video. McGregor’s move, in addition to official tweets from the Star Wars franchise account, was seen as an important move, considering how Star Wars was, in the eyes of many critics, wishy-washy in their defense of John Boyega and Kelly Marie Tran when they were subjected to racist online commentary.
In an interview with Inverse, Morfydd Clark, who plays LOTR: TROP‘s Galadriel, smacked down so-called fans who think they speak on behalf of J.R.R. Tolkien. “[Tolkien] was a really complex person who wrote a really complex world,” she said, “and this idea that anyone could know exactly what he would’ve wanted or what he would’ve liked is, I feel, nonsense.”