Why it's time for The Razzies to die

Feature Simon Brew 26 Feb 2013 - 06:23

The Golden Raspberry Awards used to be an antidote to the Hollywood awards season. Now? They're part of the problem...

It's traditional that on the eve of the Oscars, the annual Golden Raspberry Awards take place. These have been going for a long time now, and the theory behind them is sound. If you're going to have awards ceremony after awards ceremony praising movies to the hilt, shouldn't you have one that highlights the dross that Hollywood has to offer too? In the words of The Golden Raspberry Award Foundation's website, the awards are designed to "prick the movie industry's pomp".

In principal, who's not on board with that? There's hardly a shortage of pomp to prick, and those movies you sit through where you get the sense that nobody cares should be named and shamed.

To get an idea of what's generally bad amongst 2012's releases, take a look at the Rotten Tomatoes scores. The reviews aggregation site reveals that amongst the worst films were A Thousand Words, The Devil Inside, One For The Money, Alex Cross and The Apparition. And those are just some of the titles that found there way into cinemas, and before critics' eyes. Some of the straight to DVD stuff, that still secured some form of distribution, was even worse.

However, the Golden Raspberry Awards for 2012, which were announced over the weekend, went in the direction of The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2, and Adam Sandler.

Adam Sandler I'll say from the off is pretty fair game. I've generally liked a lot of his films, but if there's a rich man on autopilot in Hollywood, it's him. I can't remember the last time I saw one of his films and felt he was in any way pushing himself. 

But now, I find myself in the unusual position of defending Twilight. Historically, I'm no defender of the Twilight franchise, yet to call Breaking Dawn Part 2 the worst film of 2012 is surely some way wide of the mark. Instead, the Golden Raspberrys have done what they increasingly choose to do: they've picked on a big, obvious target, that saves them having to watch some genuinely appalling movies. Rather than actively seek out the films that deserve hanging out to shame, the awards have a habit of picking out big failures, and bestowing prizes upon them.

In some cases, it feels like they've waited for the bullying in the playground to stop, and gone back to have another couple of kicks at the whimpering child on the floor.

Inevitably, sometimes it's hard to argue with the winners. Jack And Jill is a slice of people's life that they simply can't get back. Likewise, the Worst Picture Razzie has gone to Basic Instinct 2, Catwoman and I Know Who Killed Me in the past decade or so. None of those are films I ever want to watch again.

Sadly though, there are now but three certainties in life: death, taxes, and that the Razzies will pick up on a major flop, no matter how good or bad it actually is. That's why interesting failures such as Hudson Hawk, The Postman, Howard The Duck (admit it: were you actually bored watching it? It's bad, but still with merit) and The Adventures Of Ford Farlaine take the bullet for the genuinely vacuous dross.

It's the school bully syndrome I struggle with. Sure, its targets are big enough to take it, and I've no urge to take the bullet for Eddie Murphy, Adam Sandler and the cast of Twilight. But surely the Razzies should be about exposing the worst of the cynically calculated films, that take your money while offering nothing at all in return. Start with the likes of Vampires Suck, Epic Movie, and films like that. Find me the redeeming feature about those. 

Bluntly, we pay money to go to the cinema, and thus it's the film makers who simply don't seem to try that are the ones who deserve their ire. Instead, the Razzies have become an exercise in pointing at someone and laughing at them. There's a tinge of nastiness about it, that outweighs the value of having a ceremony that exposes the most cynical, bad value movies to see the inside of a multiplex. It's becoming Internet trolling in awards form.

Next year, I'm happy to predict that the nominees will include Adam Sandler again, probably Sylvester Stallone, and no doubt a good number of the usual suspects that the Razzies like to pick on. I'm calling Grown Ups 2 for worst movie at the Razzies now, no matter how the end product turns out, just because it fits the Razzies template.

Sadly, the Razzies has become exactly what it arguably set out to counter: another awards show in the mix, that fails to really point out the films that deserve the prizes it's giving out. To pick out, as it has this year, Twilight: Breaking Dawn Part 2 reduces the Razzies to just another bunch of anonymous haters, of which the Internet is not short. Bill Condon for worst director? Really?

Everyone has different opinions, certainly, but it's hard to see where the Razzies fit in now. As a piece of fun, it just feels a little too nasty (Sandra Bullock picking up her prize a year or two back, you can't help but feel, gave the proceedings a respectability they ill-deserve). And as a genuine ceremony to expose the worst of Hollywood, it's too distracted by big names - just like the ceremonies it's taking the piss out of - to do its job properly. 

You can read the full list of 2013 Razzie winners here.

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