Rings of Power IMDb Ratings Controversy

The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power was released in September 2022, and it was immediately met with controversy over review ratings. Across review platforms like Prime Video, IMDb, and Rotten Tomatoes, there were allegations of negative review bombing on one side and suppression of legitimate negative criticism on the other.

The story of Rings of Power IMDb ratings is an interesting one, and to tell the story, a helpful backdrop is the history of ratings of IMDb itself as a movie reviews platform.

Rings of Power IMDB Ratings Controversy

IMDb Golden Age

IMDb was beloved for years as the go-to platform for all kinds of information on movies and shows, from plot summaries, to the cast, to the budget and revenue, to user reviews.

Here are snippets from early reviews of IMDb on Trustpilot:

2010 through 2019, IMDb received about 200-220 Trustpilot reviews written in English, the vast majority of which were 4 or 5 stars. They characterized IMDb as “accurate”, “go-to”, “helpful”, and “great”.

Alleged Suppression of Negative Reviews

Starting in 2020, negative reviews of IMDb poured into Trustpilot, alleging bad reviews were getting suppressed. Between 2020 and September 2022, there were 40-50 new reviews of IMDb, most rating it 1 star:

Many of these reviews specifically allege bad ratings were deleted to support some sort of left-wing political agenda. IMDb’s filtering of illegitimate reviews could have correctly or incorrectly deleted these reviews, and there’s no way to know without seeing the original movie reviews. However, many of these new negative reviews of IMDb sounded a little unhinged and veered into conspiracy theory territory.

Rings of Power Ratings Scandal

IMDb’s Ratings on Trustpilot Plummeted

After the Rings of Power was released, negative reviews of IMDb reached a fever pitch, with 100+ new Trustpilot reviews just on September 4, 2022, and 250+ in the month of September, almost all 1-star ratings. IMDb’s reviews on Trustpilot now look like this:

This low rating rivals some the most hated companies such as Spirit Airlines on Trustpilot.

So why were people so angry over Rings of Power IMDb ratings?

Ratings Suppression Across Platforms

Shortly after the release of Rings of Power, Amazon found that there were a high number of user reviews suspected of trolling and spewing racist content. Some racist reviews were angry about the casting of non-white actors in the land of Middle-Earth, which they argued did not accurately reflect the vision of the original author J.R.R. Tolkien.

In response, user ratings for the show were suspended, removed, or held for review on multiple platforms, including IMDb, Rotten Tomatoes, and Prime Video itself where Rings of Power was exclusively shown.

However, the way in which this was carried out rubbed a lot of users the wrong way. Many alleged that legitimate critical reviews were thrown out alongside the trolling and bigotry. Others alleged that positive reviews were allowed during the “suspension”, artificially propping up the ratings during the first few days, when ratings might be more likely to influence users.

Amazon Owns IMDb

Even worse, Amazon had produced the Rings of Power, and had a huge financial investment in its success. Not only were ratings suppressed on its streaming platform Prime Video, but also on IMDb, which many people did not know was an Amazon-owned platform since 1997.

A review platform filtering out negative ratings for a show that their parent company produced appears to be a clear conflict of interest. The optics of Amazon’s response was especially bad as this kind of review hold system was rarely seen prior to this.

Reviews on IMDb’s Trustpilot page reflected this breach of trust:

What Really Happened?

As is often the case, the truth likely lies somewhere in the middle.

Did trolls and/or bigots review bomb Rings of Power? Yes, there’s ample evidence of that, but we won’t share those racist reviews here (though some can still be found on the review platforms if you look long enough, even after the filters have removed the egregious ones).

Did Amazon take advantage of the situation to potentially take out legitimate negative ratings? Yes, that’s likely the case judging from the numerous complaints by legitimate reviewers. A charitable interpretation might be that an immediate response was warranted, and no filter is perfect, so some false positives are inevitably flagged. But given the huge conflict of interest, you cannot fault people for thinking Amazon intentionally (or at least recklessly) threw out a lot of legitimate negative reviews under the guise of removing the trolling.

IMDb reviews for Rings of Power have now normalized to what seems like a more typical distribution:

What Now?

Online rating and review systems are now subject to more manipulation than ever before, whether by reviewers or by the system itself. When a new movie or show is released, yes, you should scrutinize the ratings more closely, especially if the ratings platform has a financial interest in that movie or show. And also yes, you should read the reviews more closely, because review bombing is now more prevalent and effective, as fake or troll reviewers become more organized and find ways around content filters.

That’s why it’s important to read online reviews carefully and think for yourself before arriving at a judgment. IMDb may have suffered a bit of a reputational hit, but it’s still a great source of info, and even for reviews if you read them critically.

As for the Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power? We thought it was pleasant, emotional, and pretty, but also slow, filled with fluff, and with some less-than-believable writing. Perhaps you should judge for yourself.

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