Question: What’s more fun than making fun of someone?
Answer: Organizations that hand out awards making fun of someone.
And there are lots of these organizations, close to 50 by my count. Here are just a few:
The Doublespeak Award, from NCTE, the National Council of Teachers of English. An “ironic tribute to public speakers who have perpetuated language that is grossly deceptive, evasive, euphemistic, confusing, or self-centered,” recent winners include Rudy Giuliani (2018), Kellyanne Conway (2017), and Donald Trump (2016).
The Carbuncle Cup, an architecture prize given annually by the magazine Building Design to “the ugliest building in the United Kingdom completed in the last 12 months.” The name derives from a comment made by Charles, Prince of Wales, about a 1984 proposed extension of London’s National Gallery, which he called a “monstrous carbuncle on the face of a much-loved and elegant friend.”
The True Stella Awards, for frivolous lawsuits. Sadly, now defunct, the last (2007) winner was Roy L. Pearson Jr, a 57-year-old administrative law judge from Washington DC who claimed that a dry cleaner lost a pair of his pants. He sued the mom-and-pop business for almost $65 million, citing inconvenience, mental anguish, and attorney’s fees for representing himself.
How to choose just three from that long list for further exploration – it was a struggle. Until I realized…
What better place to start than that capital of award giving:
Because “Hollywood” means “movies,” and that means the Golden Raspberry Award, affectionately nicknamed “The Razzies.”
Even the name is irreverent, as in “blowing a raspberry,” defined as “a sound made with the tongue and lips in order to express derision or contempt.”
The annual Razzies have been around since 1981, and it’s not one, but multiple awards: Worst Picture, Director, Actor, Actress and so on. The event is held the night before the Academy Awards and, perhaps not surprisingly, most winners don’t attend the ceremony.
One who did was Sandra Bullock in 2010, who won for Worst Actress in All About Steve.
And when she arrived, she was towing a red wagon full of copies of the movie for the audience, which, for a dramatic actress, I think shows Bullock has a pretty good sense of humor.
More recently, Melissa McCarthy won not one, but two Worst Actress Razzies for her 2018 performances in The Happytime Murders and Life of the Party.
Though considered a comedian, McCarthy declined to show up to receive her double Razzie, which I think shows she has no sense of humor at all.
|Sandra Bullock (left) at the Razzie awards, good sense of humor; Melissa McCarthy, a no-show at the Razzies, no sense of humor.|
Then there’s the Ig Nobel Prize. This is a parody on the Nobel Prize, a prestigious annual award given for outstanding work in physics, chemistry, medicine and other big-brain categories.
Likewise, the Ig Nobel Prize is also given annually in multiple big-brain categories including biology, chemistry, economics and others.
And “Ig Nobel” is also a play on the word “ignoble,” meaning “of low grade or quality; inferior.”
The most recent winner in the Medical Education category was Akira Horiuchi for his Report, “Colonoscopy in the Sitting Position,” in which he describes the ease and comfort of performing a self-colonoscopy.
“Many people are afraid of getting a colonoscopy,” said Dr. Horiuchi, “but if people watch a video of my self-colonoscopy, they think colonoscopy is simple and easy.”
I did wonder if, like Sandra Bullock, Dr. Horiuchi arrived at the ceremony towing a wagon full of his videos?
And how many times did he have to practice this procedure before it was prize worthy?
But rather than dwell on that, let’s move on to our final selection:
The Bad Sex in Fiction Award, issued annually by Literary Review. This is a legit British publication that’s been around since 1979, publishing reviews of books – all kinds of books.
So it stands to reason that the Literary Review team is going to see books with depictions of sex scenes, and it’s inevitable that some of those will be bad.
|Wilbur Smith’s War Cry, a Bad Sex in Fiction 2017 nominee, contained this relatively tame but still awful simile:
“He kissed her and she responded and the boundaries between them blurred, like two watercolours on a piece of paper, joining as one to create something entirely new.”
So bad that in 1993 the team felt compelled to start its annual Bad Sex in Fiction Award to honor “an author who has produced an outstandingly bad scene of sexual description in an otherwise good novel. The purpose of the prize is to draw attention to poorly written, perfunctory or redundant passages of sexual description in modern fiction.”
Whew! I’m guessing the recipients of this award must have written some pretty funky stuff!
But why guess? I hastened to the Literary Review’s website and…
I was so shocked I couldn’t stop reading – for hours!