To Trust or Not to Trust IMDb Ratings?

“The film is chauvinistic and promotes gender inequality as there are no women in lead roles,” said a certified film critic on Rotten Tomatoes for Hacksaw Ridge, a film based on world war two. The participation of women in world war two was limited and thus it was an obvious decision to not cast female actors in the film. More often than ever, people are driven by ideological biases and analyse films through a lens sidelining the beautiful craftsmanship that goes into the making of the film.

On rating websites like IMDb, all one needs to rate a movie out of 10 is a registered account. There’s no way to verify whether voters have actually watched the film. Also, most users rate films based on the plot, dialogue delivery, and engagement, undermining the contribution of others involved in the process. Cinematography and production design are one of the most important aspects of filmmaking but they are casually ignored by most people while they review films.

Take the film Steve Jobs, for example,  the film has an IMDb rating of 7.2. However, if you dig deeper, you will observe that most ratings are either 10 or 1. This is a common trend when it comes to films from the Marvel or DC universe. Marvel fans often rate DC films at 1 while DC fans rate DC films at 10. A bias is evident when it comes to fan fiction.

Moreover, IMDb ratings in my opinion are very shallow as they condense an entire feature-length production into a single metric, giving us a measure by which to decide, within seconds, whether it’s worthy of our time or not. They’re also easy to manipulate.

The controversy around Sushant’s death spread hysteria among regular Hindi film viewers, most viewers discarded films starring actors of the likes of Alia Bhatt, Jhanvi Kapoor, and Arjun Kapoor because of the “Nepotism killed Sushant” theory.

IMDb’s vote system is a soft weapon in all sorts of online turf wars. A film’s content is no longer the sole basis by which it’s rated on IMDb. Now, even the cast or crew’s political leanings are reason enough to attack their art.

So, should you not trust IMDb ratings at all? The answer is a big fat ‘NO’. IMDb ratings are “accurate” in the sense that they are calculated using a consistent, unbiased formula. IMDb publishes weighted vote averages rather than raw data averages. The simplest way to explain it is that although we accept and consider all votes received by users, not all votes have the same impact (or ‘weight‘) on the final rating. One should look at these ratings as a simplified way to see what other IMDb users all over the world think about titles listed on the site.

In conclusion, always take IMDb ratings or any other online review with a pinch of salt. They are not “accurate” in the absolute qualitative sense but they may give you a diverse set of opinions about a film.

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