Per tradition, the day before the new Oscar nominees were announced last week, the nominations for the 35th Annual Golden Raspberry Awards – better known to all as the Razzies – were announced first. As most of you are aware, the Razzie Awards acknowledge the worst of the worst of the year’s movies – except that it doesn’t really work that way, and I can tell you why not. Yes, I was once a Razzie voter, and I’m here to tell my story.
The Razzie Awards were founded by John Wilson, who used to be a publicist and marketer for film releases. He first launched these awards back in 1980. (The Worst Picture that year? The Village People musical ‘Can’t Stop the Music’.) I first got involved as a voter when I received an invitation to become a member from Mr. Wilson, back when I was running the editorial department at DVD Empire. After I left that job, I still remained a voting member until last year, when I frustratingly called it quits.
There’s nothing special about Razzie voters. Anyone can become one… even you! All Wilson asks in return for a chance to cast votes is an annual fee, which used to be somewhere in the $25 range for two years of voting, but which looks like it’s moved up to $25 for each single year (or $40 for you and a friend). If you really want to make John happy, lifetime memberships are available for a cool $500.
The reason I stopped voting wasn’t because of the annual fee, but because of the nomination process. You see, voters don’t really get to pick which movies gets nominated, and I have my concerns about whether they really get to pick the winners either. Each year, Mr. Wilson emails members (it used to be snail mail, then a combination of snail mail and web site, and it looks like he may have gone completely online this year) a list of the nominees that he’s already chosen on his own.
Now, there is room to write in suggestions for your own nominees, but in my six years as a Razzie voter (2008–2013), I never saw anything on the final ballot that wasn’t already suggested by John on his nomination ballot. To make matters worse, Mr. Wilson kind of stacks the deck against a certain actor or movie by noting in his mailings that this film or this actor/actress got the most nominations (or some other dubious honor), and often gives the nomination a rather creative title so that one will be more apt to vote for it. (An example from this year: Calling ‘Transformers 4‘ by the title “Age of Ex-STINK-tion” on the ballot and in all press releases.)
Because anyone can become of voter, there is no requirement that he or she actually sees all (or any) of the movies that get nominated. Wilson doesn’t release the demographics of his voters, but I suspect they’re mostly made of 18- to 35-year-old fanboys with a bone to pick against the latest Michael Bay opus or Adam Sandler comedy.
That’s the biggest problem with the Razzies. While at some point the awards may have been about truly recognizing the worst movies or performances of the year, now they just seem to be a forum for a small group to rant about how they felt ripped off by the past summer’s biggest flop, or how they can’t bear to sit through another Keanu Reeves performance. (Reeves was nominated this year in the brand-new “Redemption” category for turning his career around with ‘John Wick‘. That’s a nice change to the Razzies.)
So when the winners are announced on February 21st (the night before the Oscars), keep in mind that no matter how many trophies ‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles‘ gets, it’s not really a good representation of the worst that cinema offered in 2014.
Still, the Razzies are all in good fun… just as long as you don’t view them as a legitimate awards process. They’re really just more of what John Wilson does best: marketing his brand.
For a full list of this year’s Razzie nominees, visit this page.