Column: The Razzies go too far once again


Emma Liu

The annual Golden Raspberry Awards sparked controversy for nominating a 12-year-old actress for the Worst Actress category. This recent scandal is the latest in a history of contentious nominations.

Alyssa Enright, news correspondent

Since 1981, the Golden Raspberry Awards, or the Razzies, have provided an irreverent foil to the Academy Awards by highlighting the worst films and performances of the year. They were co-founded by UCLA film graduates John J. B. Wilson and Mo Murphy to poke fun at filmmakers for making low-quality movies with high financial returns. The awards have gotten heat for their controversial 2023 nominations, and people are calling for an end to the Razzies on the basis that the cheeky humor has become ethically questionable. 

For the Worst Actress category, 12-year-old actress Ryan Kiera Armstrong was nominated for her role in “Firestarter.” Many, including former “Firestarter” actress Drew Barrymore, expressed outrage at the Razzie nomination and asserted the committee should not nominate younger actors for negative awards. Wilson has since released a public apology to Armstrong and implemented a new guideline stipulating every nominee must be at least 18 years of age. 

This isn’t the first time the Razzies have faced public criticism. A few years ago, Bruce Willis was nominated for his own special category of “Worst performance by Bruce Willis in a 2021 movie.” Willis had just been diagnosed with aphasia, a medical condition that causes the loss of ability to understand or express speech. While filming, this condition affected Willis’s performance and the Razzies acknowledged this by stating they would revoke Willis’s Razzie award. Wilson also stated on behalf of the Awards committee that they did not know about the diagnosis until the morning everyone else did. 

While receiving backlash for their recent decisions, the Razzies also took back the nomination for Shelley Duvall in 1981 for her performance in “The Shining” when it was revealed director Stanley Kubrick’s abusive treatment of Duvall while on set impacted her performance. Kubrick would constantly berate and alienate Duvall to keep her in a state of panic. Amid new criticism, the Razzies chose to erase their history of public bullying and rescinded Duvall’s nomination to be sensitive to the horrors she suffered throughout production.

Defenders of the Razzies might write this ceremony off as just a laugh, but this once-a-year joke attracts more than a million visitors annually and has gained the press’s attention on numerous occasions — this isn’t the only time people have said they wanted the Razzies to end. Back in 2009, Wilson admitted that most people in Hollywood wished for the awards ceremony’s retirement. Whether or not the Razzies should end is up for debate, but it is the wrong debate. The real problem is that the joke has gone too far. 

It’s no secret that people love to purposefully watch terrible movies just to laugh at them. However, while the Razzies may seem like an extension of that instinctive tendency to mock bad films, the jokes have crossed the line more than once. Armstrong should not have had to face ridicule at the hands of adults for the award show to implement an age guideline — the founders should have established this in the first place or should have known not to involve children. 

Although the Razzies did revoke Willis’ offensive nomination, they never publicly apologized for nominating the actor in the first place. The subsequent retraction of Duvall’s nomination felt more compensatory than genuine, and they shouldn’t have to be called out multiple times for their unethical choices to change past ones. 

The point of the Razzies is to send a message that filmmakers and actors should own up to their mistakes in making a film that wastes time, money and talent. Filmmaking and acting are art forms that are allowed to be criticized. Still, the Razzies started as a joke and should remain a joke. The Razzies should strike a balance between continuing the ceremony for laughs while avoiding flat-out public humiliation. In the past, many actors have proudly received their Razzie Awards, such as Sandra Bullock in 2010, Jamie Dornan in 2016, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson in 2018 and David Eigenberg in 2011. Receiving the award with grace can even be a good chance for an actor to show they have good humor and character, which makes fans love them even more. 

Despite the controversy of this year’s nominations, the Golden Raspberry Awards will be held on March 11, the day before the Oscars. The creators rethink their nominee list and take back past Razzie awards quite often, which is why the awards will always be a joke. It’s not a prestigious award ceremony, it isn’t considered constructive criticism and it likely won’t reach full-blown popularity as other award shows have. Perhaps award shows for both the best and worst have been done to death and audiences are sick of them, but when audiences do tune into the Razzies this year they should be sure to have a good laugh.