Recently, family members of action movie icon Bruce Willis revealed he was diagnosed with aphasia: a neurological disorder that can impact communication. With the disorder forcing him to retire from acting, the industry rushed to show its support for the Die Hard star, paying tribute to his long and sprawling career.
However, many held their breath to see the response of the Golden Rasberry Awards, who had recently made a whole category dedicated to Bruce Willis’ direct-to-small-screen releases. Their response proved more than ever that they’re not a harmless joke, and certainly don’t count as a sardonic rib at the industry. What they are, is unapologetically cruel. Their initial response to Willis’ condition was not to rescind the award, but to suggest that maybe this is why he wanted to “go out with a bang” in 2021.
They turned a devastating condition into yet another stale punchline, and it was only in response to the backlash, not basic empathy and human decency that they decided to rescind the award. Ultimately, that’s what matters to the Razzies: attention. They try to position themselves as subversion and critique of vapid, fame-hungry, Hollywood culture — but how are they any different?
People talk of fame-seekers punching down in order to climb Hollywood’s slippery pole, but in my opinion, the Razzies are virtually no different. I think the Razzie’s humour is offensive, outdated, and to put it bluntly, a little bit desperate. They’ve been around since the 1980s, and yet I feel like, in all those years, their humour has never developed beyond punching down at one group in order to gain the approval of another.
Take, for example, their arguably disproportionate focus on Black people in the industry. At least six Tyler Perry movies alone have been nominated, while Samantha Allen, writing for The Daily Dot in 2015, estimated that at least 14 Black actors have received Razzies over the years. Of course, you can argue that a lot of Tyler Perry movies are objectively bad (and they are), but nominating the same person so much to the point they get their own category (‘Tyler Perry & That Same Old Worn Out Wig’) suggests something more personal at play, especially given that those who judge the Razzies don’t even have to watch the movies.
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What some may not realise is that in order to be a Razzies judge, all you need to do is subscribe. This is open to anyone, and in my opinion, makes the mockery all the more worse: what you have is people essentially paying to make cheap, tired and embarrassing jokes.
Couple this with the fact that those who vote for the Razzies aren’t even required to watch the movies, what we’re left with is people who already have minimal experience or qualifications in assessing a film, casting judgement on a movie they may not have even seen. So what will they end up defaulting on, you ask? Personal opinions, prejudices, and low-hanging fruit.
It is because of this, in my opinion, that the Razzies also have a misogyny problem. For one, they outright deny the good work of female actors, such as Shelley Duvall in The Shining. Even in their recent rescinding of Duvall’s Razzie, they failed to acknowledge her talented performance and instead went down a pseudo-victim-blaming route: claiming that the abuse she faced at the hands of Kubrick “impacted her performance”.
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They also targeted female actors like Sandra Bullock and Halle Berry, both critically acclaimed performers who picked up their Razzies in person. Proving the skewed perspective of the Razzie ‘panel,’ Bullock famously won an Oscar for The Blind Side the day after they collected their Razzie for All About Steve, while Berry, the first Black woman to win the Best Actress Oscar for Monster’s Ball, made sure to bring along their historic Academy Award when they came to collect their own Razzie for Catwoman.
I also find it hard to ignore how, in my opinion, the Razzies target women who have arguably already been put through the wringer by a misogynistic press, including Britney Spears, Kim Kardashian, Paris Hilton, Lindsey Lohan, and Jennifer Lopez, to name a few. What makes this misogyny worse is that they can’t even be original with it: they’re just parroting the sexist criticisms that already exist in the mainstream press.
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But their parroting of mainstream opinion in their nominations isn’t just linked to sexism: it’s at the very foundation of their supposedly counter-cultural ceremony. Whenever the Razzies nominations come out, all you see are the echoes of complaints and criticisms that have already been done to death on Twitter, and the same, more than tired old chestnuts like another Adam Sandler movie that isn’t very good.
When they’re not regurgitating months-old discourse, the Razzies are making completely arbitrary choices that are at best, misinformed and at worst, a borderline embarrassing play for outrage clicks. Ben Affleck’s recent nomination for his role in The Last Duel, which was actually pretty well received by critics, is an encapsulation of that.
Ultimately, any molecule of relevancy that the Razzies may have had in the ‘80s has long gone. Like that one weird relative you see once a year at Christmas dinner, it’s time to cut them off.