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The Razzies’ Strange and Controversial History

The Razzies award the worst in film every year, but they have made mistakes of their own. Here is their wild an slightly problematic history.

Closeup of Razzies Logo on a computer.
Postmodernstudio/Shutterstock

The Golden Raspberry awards, commonly known as the Razzies, started in 1981 as a way for a group of party guests to trash the films they saw in the past year.

Over 40 years later, the Razzies now function like a real award show. People anticipate the nominations every year to find out the worst film of the year. There have even been some celebrities that have accepted their Razzies in person, like Sandra Bullock and Halle Berry.

However, the Razzies have met their fair share of controversy and backlash for their nominations. Here are some highlights of The Razzies controversial history, and proof that some jokes just aren’t funny.

Recent Backlash at the Razzies

Ryan Kiera Armstrong, star of Firestarter, who was controversially nominated at the most recent Razzies. (Ovidio Hrubaru)
Ryan Kiera Armstrong, star of Firestarter, was controversially nominated at the most recent Razzies. (Ovidio Hrubaru)

When the most recent Razzie nominations came out, people had a lot to say. Specifically, people were talking about the nomination of Ryan Kiera Armstrong for Worst Actress for her role in Firestarter. The problem is that Armstrong is twelve years old, and many people believe that declaring a child a terrible actress is just cruel and unnecessary. Because of all of the backlash and outcries, the Razzies rescinded Armstrong’s nomination and apologized. However, this is far from the first child that the Razzies have chosen to “honor”.

Past Harshness Towards Child Actors

Jaden Smith, who won a Razzie for Worst Actor when he was 15. (Debby Wong/Shutterstock)
Jaden Smith won a Razzie for Worst Actor when he was 15. (Debby Wong/Shutterstock)

Many times in the past, the Razzies have recognized children’s “terrible” acting. This seems insensitive due to the fragility and novice of children. Child nominations in the past include Macaulay Culkin for Getting Even with Dad, Pagemaster, and Richie Rich, all in 1995, Gary Coleman in for On the Right Track, Jaden Smith for After Earth, of which he actually won Worst Actor, and Jake Lloyd for Star Wars: The Phantom Menace. In Lloyd’s case, he dealt with relentless bullying for his acting, leading him down a sad adulthood path. The Razzies can have fun teasing accomplished adults, for the most part, but it is unnecessary to be mean to children.

Bruce Willis’s Rescinded Razzie at Retirement

Bruce Willis, who had a dedicated category at the Razzies that was later removed. (Featureflash Photo Agency/Shutterstock)
Bruce Willis had a dedicated category at the Razzies that was later removed. (Featureflash Photo Agency/Shutterstock)

In recent years, movie star Bruce Willis has been doing a lot of under-the-radar films with negative reviews. Because of this, The Razzies decided to make a special category in 2021, “Worst Bruce Willis Performance in a Film in 2021”. All eight of the low-budget films that Willis did in 2021 were nominated. People were okay with this concept at the time, but it was later revealed that Willis has aphasia and is retiring. People then believed that it was rude of the Razzies to do this category because the aphasia may have affected his performances, and he is doing these films so that he can act while he can. The Razzies removed this category from their records and apologized, showing the importance of the circumstances.

The Shining’s Horror All-Around

Clapboard from The Shining, which was nominated for multiple Razzies. (Vidu Gunaratna/Shutterstock)
Clapboard from The Shining, a film that had multiple nominations at the Razzies. (Vidu Gunaratna/Shutterstock)

Shelley Duvall starred in the horror film, The Shining, and the horror was on and off the screen. Director Stanley Kubrick harassed her behind the scenes and instilled this large amount of fear, scarring her. The Razzies then nominated Duvall for Worst Actress. Years later, people realized that she showed talent in her role and how much the painful environment affected her. The Razzies realized this too and rescinded her nomination to show they recognize her skills and pain. Kubrick was nominated for Worst Director, which was controversial because, despite his attitude, The Shining was legendary. However, that nomination won’t get rescinded any time soon.

Too Good For a Razzie

Jim Carrey, who was once nominated for Worst New Star at the Razzies. (Andrea Raffin/Shutterstock)
Jim Carrey was once nominated for Worst New Star at the Razzies. (Andrea Raffin/Shutterstock)

Sometimes great aspects of films sneak into The Razzies. People have disagreed with Jim Carrey’s nomination for Worst New Star for Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, Dumb and Dumber, and The Mask. Considering how those films helped him break out and he has led an accomplished career since then, that seems to be a misstep. As was the nomination of Danny Devito for Worst Supporting Actor in Batman Returns. Many people found Devito to be a wonderful villain as The Penguin, and he deserved applause for it. Another disagreement was with Ennio Morricone’s nomination for Worst Score for The Thing. Morricone is very accomplished, and his score was seen as expertly crafted. Sometimes with awards, we have to agree to disagree.

Venn Diagram of Oscars and Razzies

Glenn Close, who was nominated for an Oscar and a Razzie for her role in Hillbilly Elegy. (Lev Radin/Shutterstock)
Glenn Close was nominated for an Oscar and a Razzie for her role in Hillbilly Elegy. (Lev Radin/Shutterstock)

The Oscars recognize the best, and the Razzies recognize the worst. Therefore, it is crossovers can be weird, but it has happened. Three actors have Razzie and Oscar nominations for the same role, James Coco for Only When I Laugh, Amy Irving for Yentl, and Glenn Close for Hillbilly Elegy. There have also been songs with Razzie and Oscar nominations, “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing” from Armageddon, “How Do I Live” from Con Air, and “Life in a Looking Glass” from That’s Life. Differing opinions can be interesting, but the Oscars will have a stronger attachment to film memory.

The Simplicity of the Razzies

Razzies' logo displayed o a smartphone. (Rafapress/Shutterstock)
Razzies’ logo displayed on a smartphone. (Rafapress/Shutterstock)

One of the bigger controversies relating to the Razzies is the basicness of the process. Some people believe it is too simple to be something that people care about. It is not even that hard to vote for the Razzies. All people have to do is sign up and pay for a membership, and they can have a part in the voting, even if they are not film experts. It would be one thing if this was all voted on by film experts, but when it is a bunch of random people, why should it matter? The lack of exclusivity makes for too much silliness. That makes the awards too chaotic to care about.

Written By

Rachel Rosenfield is currently a student at Brandeis University. Along with writing for Trill Mag, she is the managing editor for her school paper, The Brandeis Hoot. When she is not writing, Rachel is watching new movies, watching new TV shows, and reading new books. Rachel loves writing for Trill Mag and she is often thinking about what she will write about next.

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