In a long-overdue move, the recognition of the worst did not give in to political temptations.
On Saturday, as a precursor to The Oscars, the tradition of staging the show recognizing the worst from movie theaters was held. This has been an ongoing paradox for me, as I harbor the purely mixed emotions of energetic curiosity and assured disappointment. This year actually delivered a sense of hope.
I’m a lifelong devotee of sewer cinema, and even do a podcast dedicated to these misfires from Hollywood. I have long had a love/hate relationship with the longest-running arbiter of the worst side of Hollywood, The Golden Raspberry Awards. Before the pandemic broke the movie-going experience, I was always one to devour the year-end compilations, combing through the “10-Worst” lists from the various critics and outlets to see if they jibed with my consumption of theatrical fiascos and direct-to-DVD drek.
The long-term authority of such motion picture dross was The Razzies, as they were the fractured mirror of The Oscars, dis-honoring many in the same categories. Over the years, this show has gone from spot-on analysis to wavering quality and, some years, outright misfire executions.
Saturday saw encouraging signs, as social signaling was dispatched and actual badness rose to…the top…? There was largely a good mix of titles and performers, the stunt selections were kept to a minimum, and politics were largely nonexistent. And to the credit of the organizers, there was a new category created that seems to have been completely valid.
Bruce Willis was assured to become a winner this year, as an entire category was created due to his work – WORST PERFORMANCE BY BRUCE WILLIS IN A 2021 FILM. This is because over the past few years, Willis has become very prone to appearing in numerous low-budget action titles that go straight to the rental/streaming market. He will usually film for a brief period, of something like 10 to 14 days, and pocket an easy paycheck. This tendency of his to make quick-shot films, combined with the pandemic backing up movie schedules, meant that Willis saw no fewer than seven movies released in 2021.
As much as I would like to say this is a return to amusing greatness, I remain dubious. Years back, I was a voting member of The Razzies (meaning, I cut them a check for $35 to be enshrined as a voter) and took my selections seriously as I filled out the nomination forms, and then the final ballot. The problem was the organizers held no such seriousness.
Yes, it was all a gag, and the intent is, of course, to mock the studio system via these awards. But at the same time, you want to properly skewer Hollywood and point out the misbegotten offerings and performances. There were three things that had me frustrated with their process:
- Manipulating results
- Maligning the categories
- Making political statements
The first was when I saw that selections were made not to filter through the bad to come up with the worst but to craft a result to come up with a PR hit. One movie will “win the most,” or one performer will have an alarming amount of nominations, etc. The picks were crafted to create hype and generate headlines.
And often the way this was done was by contorting the categories. Over the years, you saw films nominated multiple times, such as being up for WORST PICTURE and then again for WORST REMAKE. A performer could be selected as WORST ACTOR and then appear in WORST SCREEN COUPLE, as was the case this year in the dependably cheesy gags seen in the nominations.
- Jared Leto & EITHER His 17-Pound Latex Face, His Geeky Clothes, or His Ridiculous Accent / House of Gucci
- Ben Platt & Any Other Character Who Acts Like Platt Singing 24/7 Is Normal / Dear Evan Hansen
- LeBron James & Any Warner Cartoon Character (or Time-Warner Product) He Dribbles On / Space Jam: A New Legacy
All three are also found as WORST ACTOR, with LeBron declared the winner – for essentially playing himself.
The most distracting has been the political statements over the years. This was something that became a more regular feature in the George Bush administration, and it is a constant source of detraction from the purpose and the fun. In 2005, the Razzies not only nominated but awarded winning trophies to George Bush, Donald Rumsfeld, and Brittany Spears, for their appearances in “Fahrenheit 9/11.”
This is not a reaction to being politically offended, but cinematically offended. They appeared in a documentary, as themselves, but were awarded for acting roles. This was a ludicrous political statement, and it robbed true recognition going to worthy losing performances that year.
Last year saw more of the same, as Mike Lindell won the acting honor, as himself in his documentary “Absolute Proof,” and Rudy Giuliani in the “Borat” sequel. These kinds of picks are a needless distraction from the mirth and the mocking of truly bad performances. These nods to the woke Hollywood mentality are a complete contradiction.
It is an appeal to the very industry the awards are supposed to be eviscerating, seeking approval from the very folks you are mocking. It also undercuts your own audience, as you are supposed to give a voice to the audience to deliver a message to the powers in the industry, yet the very vehicle you are using is trying to curry favor from them with virtue-signaling nominations.
Keep away from these political statements and you end up with a product like this year; fun, frivolity, and farcical filmmaking japery was to be had. Keep this kind of thing going, and I just might become a voter once again.