We tend to be very quick to point out the silliness and irrelevance of awards season, including the Academy Awards. The long standing boy’s club of a Hollywood elite self-congratulatory event has pretty much lent itself to being a gold mine for satire and parody. This was the original intention of The Golden Raspberry Awards. A kind of counter culture self-satire antithesis of the overly self indulgent award ceremonies. When the Razzies debuted in 1981, they were meant to be an alternative to the exclusionary industry of awards voters, which made sense at the time. Hollywood was an incredibly exclusive industry, and did not have the direct access and social media platforms we have today.
It’s not necessarily that Hollywood is any less exclusive so much as its no longer solely controlled by a handful of gatekeepers. In today’s world, anyone can be a filmmaker, an actor, and most of all a critic. The exclusivity of film discourse essentially doesn’t exist anymore. And most certainly doesn’t exist the way it did when The Golden Raspberry Awards were conceived. Today, everyone is a critic, and everyone has a platform to be one.
Granted, it is very much still a profession that does require skill and industry connections, but it is much more democratic in how films are decidedly good, bad or mixed. The audience reach is wider, and all opinions are magnified through countless avenues.
Now, the Razzies should’ve been able to roll with the times, adjusting for the increase film discourse among the people and provide the same kind of tongue in cheek satirical awards show. Instead, they have chosen to stick to an antiquated view of both the industry they’re satirizing and the change in film criticism as a whole. This has caused the Razzies to become mean-spirited and downright nasty. More often than not out of touch with just about everything that came out in a given year. The Razzies are no longer highlighting generally bad performances or bad movies, but going out of their way to attack films and people they simply don’t like. It is no longer a satire of awards shows. It has become indiscernible from a “guy rants in his truck about how much he hates Ben Affleck.”
As a critic myself I need to be very clear: I am not saying that films, actors, even critics should not be critiqued. Hell, I’m not even saying that we shouldn’t have any kind of satirical look at the industry we love. It’s perfectly fine to go after stuffy, self indulgent award shows and when done correctly, totally deserve it. But the Razzies have continually opted to go for the absolute lowest hanging fruit imaginable, and have become increasingly unbearable by not taking the time to focus on the original intention of it all.
Sam Adams of Indiewire said in 2015 that the Razzies are “like hecklers hurling insults at comedians or a concertgoer yelling out ‘Whoo!’ during a quiet song, they’re not-so-secretly crying out to be noticed.” [Editor’s note: thanks to /Film for starting this discourse in our offices today, btw.]
Aside from all of this, the Razzies could still be a funny little dig at a massive industry if their model for what determines the nominees wasn’t so directly designed to be voted on out of spite. The Golden Raspberry Foundation is not only a pay to play (or vote in this case) voter pool, but no one who paid to be in the foundation is required to watch any of the films that get nominated. What that means is that if you simply don’t like Tyler Perry movies, you can vote to give him a Razzie for nothing other than the fact that he made a movie that year. Don’t like Ben Affleck? No problem. Pay $40 and you can nominate him for a Razzie for any movie he’s in. Or pay $500 for a lifetime membership and literally nominate anyone you don’t like for any reason.
The mock awards show has continuous said that it isn’t about hatred, but if the very nature of selection is rooted in rewarding bullying, that’s not satire and can only manifest hate. Nominating something you hate for no other reason then the fact that it exists isn’t the satire you think it is. In fact, rewarding anonymous voters who bought a ticket to trash something they didn’t see is probably the biggest problem with the Razzies today. Imagine an actor or filmmaker posting their film on Twitter and only giving credence to the worst of the worst. The Razzies aren’t hurting Tyler Perry’s pockets or hindering his ability to make films, but being rewarded for hating his entire body of work is short sided and a completely misguided attempt at trying to be funny. It’s not, and it’s a baseless and shameless attempt to stay relevant by fueling the worst kind of film discourse imaginable.
Look, there are plenty of bad films and performances that are totally worth being recognized for their badness in any given year. And the Razzies could very well be that satirical voice if they were a little more focused on understanding their own humor instead of fueling hatred from the worst voices with a few dollars and a lot of spiteful opinions. It is easily the worst form of criticism, and it’s time to retire it for good.
If we’re really on the whole awards shows are stupid and irrelevant train, then we need to include the very entity that has lost its way for why it exists in the first place. Of all the award shows, The Razzies are the ones that need to be ended the most.
I would like to nominate the Golden Raspberry Awards as the worst award show in existence. I have $40 to validate this opinion too, so what’s the Raspberry Foundation Venmo?