Ah, film awards season -- a time when we all come together to argue over which famous millionaire deserves to own a golden idol the most. If only there were some kind of revolutionary counter-award that could call Hollywood out for its self-congratulatory nonsense and overblown sense of its own importance. Luckily we have the Golden Raspberry Awards, the awards equivalent of a loose cannon, which will "celebrate" the worst Hollywood has to offer for the 36th time this year, shining a light on Hollywood trash to knock down those movie elites a peg or two.
Or at least, they could, if the Razzies weren't such a ramshackle operation run by a bunch of lazy trolls who are guilty of all the same smug self-importance they claim to be lampooning. The Razzies are an antiquated "joke" that has long outlived any goodwill or relevance they once had, and have become nothing more than a mean-spirited cesspool of joyless criticism worse than any of the movies they tear down with artless comedy. For instance ...
If you come at the king, you best not miss. That advice is equally valuable for drug dealing as it is in film criticism. The American film industry is a billion-dollar machine, so any organization that criticizes it puts its reputation under close scrutiny. That's why they don't let simply anyone be a Razzie judge. It takes keen cinematic knowledge, a firm understanding of critical theory, and $40. But if you don't possess the first two, the 40 bucks will do fine.
Like the People's Choice Awards of petty hatred, determining which unfortunate Hollywood bigwigs are going to receive a Razzie is done by any regular Jane or Joe willing to cast a vote. That means that the dubious honor of publicly humiliating some filmmaker's already-public fuckup can be yours with little effort. All it takes is a quick visit to the Razzies website and a PayPal transaction. $40 buys you a year's worth of membership, while $500 gets you a lifetime membership. Depending on how therapeutic it is to officially register your hate for the Fifty Shades franchise, that's quite a bargain.
Beyond your ability to click on a banner, there are no criteria with which to gauge whether someone is worthy to pass judgment on the "worst" films of the year. You don't even have to have watched any of the movies to hate-vote them into "winning" a joke award for shittiness. Worse yet, the voters can be completely anonymous, so all manner of spiteful motivations could be lurking behind somebody's $40 vote. For all we know, Ben Affleck has been secretly campaigning for years to get Matt Damon nominated for Worst Actor Awards (when he could have used that money to finance a Stuck On You sequel and guaranteed that nomination).
For all the flack that Hollywood gets for being a viper's nest of liberal multiculturalism, it sure loves to almost exclusively congratulate white guys. In 2015 and 2016, the Oscars were justifiably criticized for having absolutely no people of color nominated for any acting awards:
That kind of myopia seems like ripe picking for something like the Golden Raspberry to make fun of. But that would require the Razzies to truly want to see Hollywood change for the better, while all evidence points to the award ceremony liking to wallow in the same tar pits as its targets.
While the Razzies appear to challenge the industry's laziness, it also seems to perpetuate Hollywood's prejudiced social norms. For example, in 2015 -- incidentally the year that Laverne Cox became the first transgender person be nominated for an acting Emmy -- the Razzies couldn't stop themselves referring to Transformers: Age Of Extinction as "Trannies #4." We're sure you'll agree that this is clearly the bravest joke an award show dedicating to punching up at cynical Hollywood elites could make. We're kind of amazed the Razzie for Worst Picture isn't called "The Gayest Movie Of The Year Award." When your whole schtick is pointing a mocking finger at how hacky Hollywood can be, you need to at least try harder than the movies you claim to hate so much.
Black actors don't exactly receive a fair hearing from the Razzie crew, either. In the past 35 years, black actors have won Academy Awards only 13 times -- that's less than one out of every ten awards. Oddly enough, that's still an impressive score, seeing how few nonwhite roles there are in Hollywood. But in the same timespan, the Razzies have bestowed 14 awards to black actors, because when it comes to hating things, the world suddenly becomes an absolute meritocracy.
Look, it's not like we're saying that 2004's Catwoman didn't deserve to be cat-pooped on for being horrible, but it's not like Halle Berry had a million chances to become a black lead in a superhero movie either. The Razzies had a chance to be more than a dart to throw at shitty movies, a truly outside-the-box ceremony that could have turned on Hollywood's deeply entrenched racism by pointing out that the best franchise Hollywood had to offer Academy-Award-winning actress Halle Berry was an indecipherable bastardization of a beloved female icon. (In the film, Catwoman has to bring down an evil cosmetics empire, because women be shopping.) But instead, the Razzies are usually as lazy and cynical as whatever Adam Sandler movie they've nominated this year.
It doesn't take a connoisseur to spot a bad movie, but the worst movies of an entire year? That must be a hard shortlist to assemble. Yet the esteemed committee behind the Golden Raspberries has to do it every year. What kind of strict parameters or byzantine rule sets do they employ to divine the objectively worst movies spawned by man? None, it turns out. They do what we all do when we're too lazy to research a movie: They glance at its Rotten Tomatoes score and call it a day.
These days, the Razzie selection process has devolved into a quick list of movies other people didn't like. That's actually how they nominate them -- by RT scores. If a film has a particularly low score, it becomes of immediate interest to the committee. Add to that their preference for movie franchise losing streaks (so that they can rehash the same joke several years), and you end up with a list that's as predictable as the movies on it. So the Razzies are never going to provide anyone with an eye-opening revelation about a beloved film that is secretly half-assed. They're just going to echo the same tepid takes the internet's been having since three minutes after Suicide Squad's premiere.
But it wasn't always like that. Originally, the Razzie awards started as a curation of the year's "so bad they're good" movies. Back in the bygone era of 1981, the Razzies nominated films like Xanadu and Mac And Me. Were those bad films? Sure. But they were bad cult films with an obscure sense of subversive subculture to offer. And they were fun, even if they sucked.
They also weren't very well-known or popular films, which meant people came away from the Razzies with a new list of wacky recommendations. Nowadays, most Razzie nominees pull in at least a million dollars at the box office. Most people in the goddamned world have seen a Transformers movie, so it's not like we need the Razzies to tell us that Transformers: Revenge Of The Fallen or All About Steve are bad six months after they've been torn apart everywhere else. These awards may have served a purpose in the previous century, but thanks to the internet, nobody even needs to see movies to get a comprehensive account of why they suck. Such a turnover means that people who are still talking about why Fantastic Four was terrible are about as relevant as that one guy in the office still doing Borat jokes in 2017. And that's what the Razzies have become.
It's hard to defend why the Golden Raspberry Awards should still exist in 2017, yet somehow they feel more relevant than ever. There's something about the dismissive tone, the reinforcing of backward social norms, the ignorant participation of uninformed public opinion, and an incredibly low barrier of entry that reminds us of something very contemporary. Oh, of course: trolling. That shouldn't have taken us that long to figure out, especially since the Razzies' founder was a big-time troll himself long before the internet was a thing.
John J.B. Wilson, the creator of the Razzies, is a former film student turned marketer who never went anywhere in the industry. That might make it sound like we're calling Wilson bitter -- and we are. Take, for example, the fact that in 1980, the at-the-time poorly received The Shining was nominated for two Razzies: Worst Actress for Shelley Duvall (in a performance that was tormented out of her) and Worst Director for Stanley goddamned Kubrick. Since then, a lot of critics have made a massive U-turn, and the movie now enjoys a reputation as one of the greatest horror movies of all time. But Wilson utterly refuses to acknowledge that maybe, just maybe, he might have chosen a film that didn't really deserve scorn. He still defends giving Kubrick's masterpiece shit, and to this day claims that the film "had no tension," and that Kubrick had "zero respect for the source material." That's pretty rich coming from a guy who invented a way to disrespect filmmakers long before people could go on Twitter to yell at Zack Snyder.
He also refuses to admit that Brian De Palma -- director of such greats as Carrie and The Untouchables -- could possibly have any artistic merit. No, Wilson insists he once saw dailies for Scarface and could instantly tell that De Palma was incompetent. If only Rotten Tomatoes was around then so he could blindly copy from them and avoid these mistakes.
The movie industry merits being taken down a peg or two, especially during the long winter Oscar season, when people keep warm by patting each other on the back. But as long as the Razzies are the self-proclaimed arbiter of the worst of the industry, both Hollywood and the rest of us deserve much, much better.
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It's Spring Break! You know what that means: hot coeds getting loose on the beaches of Cancun and becoming imperiled in all classic beach slasher ways: man-eating shark, school of piranhas, James Franco with dreadlocks. There are so many films about vacations gone wrong, it's a chore to wonder if there's even such a thing as a movie vacation gone right. Amity Island and Camp Crystal Lake are out. So what does that leave? The ship from Wall-E? Hawaii with the Brady Bunch? A road trip with famous curmudgeon Chevy Chase? On this month's live podcast Jack O'Brien and the Cracked staff are joined by some special guest comedians to figure out what would be the best vacation to take in a fictional universe. Tickets are $7 and can be purchased here!
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