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I love The Razzies. It’s the only show-biz prize awarded strictly on merit. There is no lobbying for the gold-sprayed, plastic statue of the eponymous fruit. And for a long time, there was no official notice taken of it, either. Awarded the day before the Oscars®, the ceremony was, for a long time, covered in-person mostly by the international press biding their time before that other awards show, with only a smattering of domestic journalists on hand. The public, however, embraced it wholeheartedly from its very first incarnation in 1980 as a party in the living room of its founder, John Wilson, who sent out a press release about it that was eagerly picked up by wire services. He had hit upon something for which a disgruntled public had been yearning. So it’s not surprising that Wilson’s inspiration for the awards, and The Golden Raspberry Awards Foundation that bestows them, was his own disgruntlement after having stumbled into a double-feature of XANADU and CAN’T STOP THE MUSIC, and then lived to talk about it.
The Razzie Awards annually give a righteous slap-down to films and film folk who should have known better, but went ahead and made excruciatingly awful films anyway. It’s cathartic to engage in a group taunting of bad flicks that were tiresome, irksome, and/or inept, and to single one out for special drubbing . The only thing I love more than The Razzies is my annual conversation with Wilson (click here for the latest, and here for a sampling of earlier conversations). In conversations punctuated with giggles, groans, and general merriment, Wilson skewers the current crop of nominees, dissects troubling cinematic trends, and yet still manages to find something hopeful about the future of cinema. He’s a smart man, with a wit that is as quick as it is sharp, and he’s also a man who truly loves movies, hence his profound disdain for the ones that had the talent and/or budget to succeed, but are disasters anyway, and disasters foisted upon an innocent and unsuspecting public.
At the awards presentation (yes, there is a formal awards show for GRAF members), the attitude is fierce, the tone is ironic, and the mood is whack-a-doodle as a seasoned troupe of presenters puts on an awards show that can lift the spirits of even the most dispirited film lover with its barbs, snipes, and general pummeling at and of the nominees. (Click here for the official announcement for this year’s nominees.) I have many fond memories of attending the Razzies. There was the parody of that Celine Dion song from TITANIC, complete with a mermaid carried in on a litter, or the time Robert Conrad showed up to accept the Razzies for Barry Sonnefeld’s version of THE WILD WILD WEST. The best had to be when Halle Berry, in formal hair, make-up, and gown, showed up in person to accept her Razzie for CATWOMAN. She was not only a good sport, she was funny and gracious, first thanking, among others, her manager (who was in the audience) for having talked her into taking the role, and then speaking movingly about her the lessons her mother had taught her about winning and losing (video here and the elegant gent in the wings over Berry’s right shoulder is Wilson himself). Berry started a trend, sort of, with the occasional nominee being on hand to participate in the festivities. Sandra Bullock, in the same year she won an Oscar® for Best Actress in THE BLIND SIDE, even went so far as to bring in a little red wagon of DVDs of the film for which she won, ALL ABOUT STEVE, the which she passed out to the audience (video here). Tom Green was also memorable, though not in a good way, as he refused to leave the stage and had to be forcibly removed in what the audience present thought was a comedy bit (it wasn’t and, alas, there is no video of it that I can find).
I have always called The Razzies a valuable public service, and not just because it makes someone feel better after having been swindled out of time and money by a bad movie. Not just because it was the driving force behind the Broadway adaptation of XANADU, or the impetus for SHOWGIRLS to embrace its essential Razzie-ness. It’s also a chance for the people involved to prove that they don’t always take themselves too seriously, if they have a mind to, and put themselves, if not the film that brought them there, in a better light. It’s still surprises me that more film folk have not availed themselves of this forum, if only to burnish up an image that may have taken a hit with, say, BATTLEFIELD EARTH or GIGLI. If Ben Affleck had shown up to accept the award for that turkey, would Hollywood have forgiven him enough to bestow his richly deserved Oscar® nomination as Best Director for ARGO? Would we find Sly Stallone, a Razzie champion, warm and cuddly if he had shown up even once over the years that have seen him winning a Razzie so many, many times?
One of the other reasons I love The Razzies, is that it is an egalitarian proposition. Only voting member can attend the ceremony, but anyone can buy a GRAF membership (click here for details). It’s affordable. It’s satisfying. And best of all, it supports a valuable public service standing up for good movies while giving a full body blow to the out-sized egos that make bad ones. Everybody wins, or at least, everyone who should.