The 'Worst Supporting Actress' Category at the Razzie Awards: Wikimedia Commons

The Razzies: A help or hindrance for filmmakers?

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The Golden Raspberry Awards –  often shortened to the Razzies –  are essentially “an amusing alternative to the Oscars”, in the words of film critic Robbie Collins. They celebrate the worst in film and anyone who pays to become a member of The Golden Raspberry Award Foundation can vote on the recipients of the award. Co-founded by American publicist John J. B. Wilson and film graduate Mo Murphy, the first ceremony took place on March 31st 1981 in Los Angeles with an audience of around forty people. Since then, however, it has grown significantly in popularity and is now an eagerly anticipated event that precedes the Academy Awards by a day, thereby allowing journalists worldwide to cover the action.

The ‘Razzies’ are a selection of awards that celebrate what people found to be the most awful performances, writing, direction and so on in films of that year. The categories of ‘worst actor/actress’, ‘worst director’ and ‘worst picture’ are often the ones that grab most of the public’s attention. Nowadays, it is also common to see YouTubers such as Jeremy Jahns and Chris Stuckmann commenting on either predictions for the Razzies or the outcome, perhaps evidencing the role the Razzies play in the film scene.  

However, the idea of working many long and challenging hours, not to mention the financial strain attached to making a film, only to get your film critiqued in such a way seems rather harsh on filmmakers. Yet, either way, once a film is released it will inevitably be judged by spectators. So, in one sense, as a filmmaker, you should expect to have your film both appreciated by some and ostracized by others. Many well-known filmmakers such as Guy Ritchie (Swept Away, 2002), M. Night Shyamalan (Lady in the Water, 2006) (The Last Airbender, 2010) and Michael Bay (Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, 2009) (Transformers: Age of Extinction, 2014) have received these awards and yet have still made their mark in the film world;  Shyamalan’s The Sixth Sense (1999) was nominated for two Oscars.  

The fact that the public decide who gets these awards poses problems. For instance, how are the public qualified to systematically judge whether a film meets a certain criterion? Is there even a list of specific criteria or is it all subjective? This could explain why many filmmakers are not deterred from making more films even after receiving a Razzie award or nomination. Although they may feel insulted, it really depends on whether they believe this award has much credibility or sway in the film world.

Just as the Razzies critique the work of filmmakers, the awards themselves are subject to criticism from film critics, blogs and websites who often view them as unfair and inadequate. Yet, there seems to be a place for them. Film buffs are generally just as interested in the outcome of this ceremony as they are with others. It is also a good way to determine which films to spend your time watching and which ones to avoid. For instance, if a film won a Razzie award, you may not be as inclined to watch it. Alternatively, for some people, the mere fact that it won this award could actually intrigue viewers to find out why it was given such an award. Therefore, the Razzies provide a good indication of public response. However, it seems that overall,  they do not often succeed in discouraging filmmakers.

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