In case you missed it, or were plugging your fingers in your ears making “la la la” sounds, the annual turkey shoot known as the Golden Raspberry Awards released — or “leaked,” presumably in the manner of a pus-soaked Band-Aid — its list of nominees over the weekend. The list, duly copied and pasted without correcting such errors of fact as spelling Seth MacFarlane’s last name wrong and crediting the star of “Tammy” as “Melinda McCarthy” not to mention the har-de-har rendering of “Transformers: Age of Extinction” as “Trannies #4.” (Not for nothing, I made a better dumb joke about its title in July. ) Variety went them one better and found its own creative way of misspelling “McFarlene,” which tells you the level of care that goes into passing the Razzie nominations around.
The nominees are determined by members of the Golden Raspberry Foundation, who pay a fee ranging from $40 (for two people) to $500 (lifetime membership). There’s no requirement to have seen the movies first: Had all 750-some Razzies members paid to see “Atlas Shrugged 3: The Return of John Galt,” it likely would have made more than $850,000 at the box office. So what you’ve got, in essence, is a group of unidentified voters with unknown qualifications taking shots at people they reflexively dislike, and — here is where the problem begins — being rewarded for it.
That rewards takes the form not only of media coverage but the attention of movie stars: Halle Berry famously brought her 2004 Oscar for “Monster’s Ball” to pick up her Razzie for “Catwoman” the following year; Worst Actress Sandra Bullock handed out DVDs of “All About Steve” to the audience, then won an Oscar for “The Blind Side” the next night. 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. The Razzies, properly enough, avoid pouncing on the little guy; they don’t trash no-budget indies no one has seen for having bad lighting or terrible sound. But it’s hard to escape the notion that it’s less a matter of principle than because they wouldn’t know Joe Swanberg from a hole in the wall.
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It started out harmlessly enough, as a makeshift chaser to publicist John B. Wilson’s annual Oscar party in 1980. But the next year, Wilson’s press release was picked up by a few local newspapers, and by fourth, CNN and the wire services had followed suit. Like so many other things, the Razzies now gets attention because it always has: It’s become part of the annual awards grind, a tiresome ritual we can’t seem to escape.
Wilson told the BBC in 2007 that the Razzies “don’t come from a place of hatred,” which seems to be narrowly accurate: Hatred is a form of passion, and the lazy recirculation of the usual suspects is anything but passionate. Did Razzies voters really watch “Pompeii” and determine that Carrie-Anne Moss’s fleeting turn merited a Worst Actress nod, or are they just hoping she’ll turn up, preferably in her old Trinity gear? Was Lea Michelle’s voice work in “Legends of Oz: Dorothy’s Return” really so bad? (And if we’re calling out voices, how do we skip over Naomi Watts’ Russian accent in “St. Vincent”?) The tendency towards multiple nominations — eight for “Trannies,” six each for “Sex Tape,” “Saving Christmas” and “Transcendence” — reeks of piling on. As the Telegraph’s Robbie Collin wrote, “[P]unchlines aren’t much fun if you can see them coming six months away, and the Razzies’ ongoing failure to train its sights on anything but the most obvious targets means it grows more tired and redundant by the year.”
If Wilson wants to stage an awards-show pisstake in his living room and charge fans for the privilege of taking part, well, it’s a free country. But there’s no reason anyone else should still be paying attention. Even as awards for terrible movies go, the Razzies are really The Worst.