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Dave Chappelle's 'The Closer' Rotten Tomatoes Score Suggest Review Bombing

Culture wars pick up some Rotten Tomatoes

Dave Chappelle's 'The Closer' Rotten Tomatoes Score Suggest Review Bombing
Rotten Tomatoes review bombing/ Illustration by Kate Walker

Culture wars pick up some Rotten Tomatoes


Dave Chappelle’s The Closer and the Anthony Fauci documentary, Fauci, have something strange in common. Both have polar opposite critics and audience scores on Rotten Tomatoes, bringing “review bombing” back into the conversation. If Rotten Tomatoes doesn’t get a handle on the tidal wave of rejection or support (rarely) of hot-button projects, press cycles for projects may focus on defending backlash as opposed to engaging in any meaningful conversation.

Splat attack
The culture war is being fought in the most unexpected of places: Rotten Tomatoes.

  • Several hot-button titles are seeing almost opposite scores between their critics score and their audience score.
  • This is especially true of recent titles such as Dave Chappelle’s new standup special on Netflix, The Closer, and Disney+’s Anthony Fauci doc, Fauci.
  • But over the past few years, this phenomenon has also hit narrative projects such as Captain Marvel, the all-female reboot of Ghostbusters, and Star Wars: The Last Jedi.

A numbers game
The dichotomy between the scores is due to a recent phenomenon called “review bombing,” where typically aggrieved parties or “anti- cancel culture” stalwarts will pump bad audience reviews (Fauci) or good ones (The Closer) en masse. The point is to create a public display of rejection or support for the political/gender/cultural discourse of the title… whether or not the thing is actually good or not.

In many ways, the RT scores are no different than Twitter pile-ons or hate raids on Twitch — hoards of disaffected viewers targeting an object they disdain or adore. Back in 2019, Rotten Tomatoes said it was overhauling its review aggregations to address review bombing… but clearly not much has been accomplished yet.