Since Halle Bailey was first cast as Ariel in Disney’s live-action The Little Mermaid, trolls and bigots alike have targeted the film with hateful comments. So it’s no surprise that things only escalated when the film hit theaters this past weekend.
According to the Internet Movie Database (IMDb), the film has been review bombed. For those unfamiliar with the term, review bombing is the act of flooding a site with negative reviews of a product for anything other than what the product has to offer.
For example, if you decide to go on Yelp and give a restaurant you’ve never been to a negative review just because you have a personal vendetta against the owner – and you encourage your friends to do the same thing – THAT is review bombing.
Now, of the 41,000 user ratings submitted to the site, 39% have been 1-star reviews. This has resulted in the film receiving a weighted average score of 7.0 out of a possible 10.0.
As a result, IMDb has placed a notice on the film’s ratings page warning visitors that the “rating mechanism has detected unusual voting activity on this title. To preserve the reliability of our rating system, an alternate weighting calculation has been applied.”
Now, this is not the first time the site has had to employ this kind of warning, or even the first time a blockbuster has been review bombed.
Disney’s Captain Marvel was review bombed so badly that Rotten Tomatoes notably had to alter its entire rating system. Since its release, viewers are no longer able to review a film on the site before its release. Last year, IMDb’s parent company, Amazon, took matters into its own hands to curb bad reviews of its Lord of the Rings series by introducing a 72-hour vetting period for users before they could add a review to the site.
Now, it’s not entirely clear what the “alternate weighting calculation” system is but, as Variety points out, IMDb’s FAQ section states ““not all votes have the same impact (or ‘weight’) on the final rating. When unusual voting activity is detected, an alternate weighting calculation may be applied in order to preserve the reliability of our system.”
While it’s a good thing that the site has stepped up to protect the film from any further harm, it’s a sad reminder of the lengths that people will go to just to try and ruin something that means so much to others.
If any of those bombers are reading this, we hope that this serves as a lesson that bigotry, racism, or hate of any kind never prevails.
The Little Mermaid features the original music by Alan Menken (Tangled and 1989’s The Little Mermaid) in addition to four brand new songs co-written by Lin-Manuel Miranda (Encanto).
Aside from Bailey, the film stars Jonah Hauer-King (A Dog’s Way Home) as Prince Eric, Melissa McCarthy (Bridesmaids) as Ursula, Awkwafina (Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings) as Scuttle, Daveed Diggs (Snowpiercer) as Sebastian, and Jacob Tremblay (Room) as Flounder. Also set to star is Emily Coates, Jude Akuwudike, Noma Dumezweni, Russell Balogh, and Adrian Christopher.
The film is in theaters everywhere now.