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Razzie Awards apologize for nominating 12-year-old ‘Firestarter’ star for Worst Actress prize

Once again, movie fans are wondering if it’s time for the Razzies to retire.

 

Gavia Baker-Whitelaw

Internet Culture

In recent years, the Razzie Awards have begun to lose their shine. Instead of being an antidote to the self-congratulatory tone of awards season, they’re increasingly seen as cruel or offensive. One of the 2023 nominees attracted particular criticism this week, leading the Razzies to publicly withdraw the nomination.

Apparently, there wasn’t much support for publicly lampooning a 12-year-old as one of the worst actresses of the year.

Alongside predictable nominees like Tom Hanks in Elvis and, well, everything about Morbius, child actor Ryan Kiera Armstrong was nominated for her role in the Stephen King movie Firestarter. This soon drew criticism online, with detractors saying it was an unnecessarily meanspirited way to treat a child in the public eye.

In theory, an awards show like the Razzies could be used to satirize real problems in Hollywood. However, the Razzies tend to aim for low-hanging fruit. They face recurring criticism both for the logistics of their selection process (because the nominators don’t have to watch the films) and their choice of nominees, with detractors calling out an apparent bias against films with Black leads.

Last year, the Razzies also had to withdraw a category dedicated to Bruce Willis performances, after the actor’s family announced his retirement due to an aphasia diagnosis.

Several children have won or been nominated for Razzies in the past, including Macaulay Culkin and Star Wars actor Jake Lloyd, but these days the public is more sensitive to the pressures faced by child stars. It’s easy to see how the mockery of a Razzie could damage a child’s self-esteem.

Responding to the backlash, the Razzies withdrew Armstrong’s nomination, announcing a new rule blocking nominations for under-18s. Apologizing to Armstrong, the Razzies’ statement added, “The recent valid criticism of the choice of 11 year old Armstrong as a nominee for one of our awards brought our attention to how insensitive we’ve been in this instance.”

While this update will protect other child stars from similar embarrassment, the Razzies themselves are struggling with public opinion. Each year, these awards seem to attract more criticism and callouts on social media. Film buffs are still happy to make fun of bad movies on their own time (eg. Morbius), but there’s a growing sense that the Razzies are just mean for the sake of being mean.

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