Oh, the Razzies. Every year, the night before the Academy Awards, the Golden Raspberry Awards are held to ostensibly “honor” the worst in film from the previous year. Such delight is taken in tearing down the work of others and doing so in a way that is not the slightest bit constructive, but rather mean-spirited with the intention of embarrassing professional filmmakers and even potentially harming their careers. Audiences have come to love them because it allows those who so desire to dogpile on the easy targets from the film world and then feel as if they’re somehow claiming some sort of victory. But there’s no true victory in complicity with ignorance and with their 2018 nominations, the Razzies have betrayed their own ignorance as never before.
No one with any actual credibility will suggest that none of the films that the Razzies have picked on since their debut in 1981 are less than stellar. Many of their victims have in fact been pretty bad. But every once in a while, they show their hand. They make it obvious that they don’t actually have the ability to tell the difference between a bad film and a not-so-bad film. Of course, the key to understanding why lies in one simple question: who decides the nominees and winners? The answer is simple and mortifying: that guy at Starbucks who loudly proclaims that only Wes Anderson films are worthwhile, even though you’re pretty sure he’s never actually seen one. Oh, and that girl on Facebook who only posts Channing Tatum gifs and hates everything that Megan Fox does. And the smelly guy who always seems to be in GameStop even though it appears he doesn’t have a job and shouldn’t be able to afford any games. And anyone else who loves to whine, wants to feel important, and has scraped together $40.00.
That last part wasn’t exactly a joke. Literally anyone can vote if they pay $40.00 for Razzie membership. That’s it. There’s nothing more to it. They don’t have to even see the movies they’re attacking. And, in this age of building oneself up by tearing others who are more successful down, it’s very likely that most don’t. This is the age of Cinema Sins, Honest Trailers, and many more equally-brainless clones where people who have never studied – formally or informally – or worked in film get it into their heads that they understand the art form better than the professionals who are immersed in it every single day. But they don’t. Their criticisms are almost always misunderstandings and misinterpretations due to their own inability to comprehend the film that they have chosen to skewer. The Razzies are the worst of this trend because they actually garner widespread attention.
So, here’s what happens each year. These voters who have forked over $40.00 just to insult hard-working artists (how low does one’s self-esteem have to be to do this?) gang up on the movies they have heard are bad and that they feel makes them the coolest to hate. As I said earlier – and others who are critical of the system have pointed out – they choose the easy targets. No actual knowledge or critical insight is necessary. Let’s just nominate the newest Transformers film because it obviously must have sucked.
Nuance is eliminated. Actual thought is undesired. It’s ironic how they so strongly condemn the Fifty Shades of Grey films because that’s fifty more shades of grey than these voters are capable of. It’s all black and white. Every movie either rules or sucks. They carry on with a preteen mentality and pay $40.00 for the honor to do so.
Look, I didn’t like Transformers: The Last Knight, either. In fact, if I were to do a list of my least-favorite 2017 films (which I’m not going to do), it would be at the top of that list. (Here are my reasons why. I actually have them because I actually saw it.) It’s fine to legitimately dislike a film based on the artistic choices that went into its production. But here’s the difference between someone like me and someone who would pay $40.00 to spit on someone’s hard work: I don’t take joy in disliking a film. I look for any good I can find. The less good there is, the more I hurt inside. And that’s because I genuinely love movies. And so do many others. Film critics genuinely love movies. They began as fans, first. And something else others have pointed out that is worth noticing is how smaller, independent films are never nominated for a Razzie. Why? Because the people responsible aren’t actually knowledgeable film lovers and aren’t even aware of these films. I tell you, last year, Florence Foster Jenkins was way more deserving of Razzie nominations than actual nominee Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. But these people wouldn’t know that because they don’t actually follow film. And without the opinions of others, what do they have?
Credibility comes with many other qualities, but one pillar that is a necessary foundation for said credibility is objectivity. And the Razzies have none. This year has taken it to a new level as both Jennifer Lawrence and Javier Bardem were nominated as among the worst actors of 2017 for their performances in mother!. Uh oh. You slipped up, Razzies. This decision was refreshingly met with an immense backlash as it’s obvious to anyone who actually saw the film that Bardem was fine and Lawrence was absolutely incredible. It suddenly became apparent that actual quality is irrelevant to the Razzies. It’s all about looking kewl to the other middle-schoolers. If Tommy with the shades and leather jacket makes fun of mother!, then so does everyone else who wants to fit in.
The film is divisive, and that’s the only reason I didn’t include it in my list of 2018’s Twelve Biggest Oscar Snubs. But, like it or not, it’s an amazing artistic expression of imagination and subtext and everything that makes film art. Lawrence was director Darren Aronofsky’s medium of choice as he evoked her talent in every metaphorical stroke of the brush and they made something truly special, even if it may be a little unorthodox for certain types of viewers. But that doesn’t make it “bad”. Anyone with credibility understands that. And certainly nothing about Lawrence or Bardem was bad. They understood the film they were making and performed above and beyond expectations – especially Lawrence. But the voters heard from other casual moviegoers who weren’t informed about the kind of movie they were about to see in mother! that is was awful. So, they took their word for it and gave it a couple of nominations. How professional, mature, and responsible.
Imagine you work in retail (or any other industry, really. Work with me and make the scenario apply to you.) and every year, your customers get to come together and vote on who among you and your co-workers performed your job the worst. No actual experience in your position or understanding of your responsibilities or even observation of your work is necessary. If they want to knock you down a peg, they vote against you. And if they vote you as the worst, it could actually affect your career because the other customers will see their choice as somehow valid and respond accordingly. That, folks, is the Razzies.
So please stop. Please stop celebrating them. Please stop sharing their nominations as if they count for something. Please stop talking about the ceremony in a positive light. Don’t be a party to their frat house mentality. It only adds to the modern culture of negativity and further enables those who drag the rest of us down by refusing to better themselves. Their goal is to level everything out by lowering others to their level. And they’re willing to pay $40.00 for the honor. If only they’d paid $40.00 to see four of the movies they voted on, they might have actually expanded their minds, for once.
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