The Razzies—despised for decades by many in the film industry, while others think it’s a hoot—has issued an apology and announced a major policy change following its decision to include 12-year-old Ryan Kiera Armstrong on its annual list of nominees for Worst Actress for her role in 2022’s Firestarter.
The Stephen King adaptation was largely panned (as was its first iteration nearly 40 years ago), garnering a meager 10 percent on Rotten Tomatoes. However, the decision to include Armstrong among a roster of nominees being called to “Own Your Bad”—the non-award show’s motto—was swiftly denounced as simply too nasty and insensitive.
WandaVision child actor Julian Hilliard was among the chorus of detractors, tweeting “The razzies are already mean-spirited & classless, but to nominate a kid is just repulsive & wrong. Why put a kid at risk of increased bullying or worse? Be better.”
The razzies are already mean-spirited & classless, but to nominate a kid is just repulsive & wrong. Why put a kid at risk of increased bullying or worse? Be better.
— Julian Hilliard (@_JulianHilliard) January 23, 2023
The public expressed similar disdain, with some stating that it’s possibly time to just bury the Razzies once and for all.
a little creepy for an awards body made up of adults to publicly humiliate a child #Razzies
— Joshua “that 10th slot” Gynther (@joshuagynther) January 23, 2023
The Razzies have always been a pathetic excuse for… something… but nominating a child is particularly egregious for so many reasons. Shut it all down.
— Maxwell “Swell” Haddad 🧡💙 (@cinemaxwell) January 23, 2023
Remember when the Razzies gave 8 year old Mara Hobel, not just one but TWO nominations for playing Christina Crawford in Mommie Dearest — including Worst New Star.
Imagine telling a little girl that she was the WORST person in entertainment that year.
— Yann (parody) (@yannhatchuel) January 25, 2023
Despite criticism, Razzies cofounder John Wilson doubled down on the decision in an interview with BuzzFeed News, calling Armstrong an “experienced actress, even if she’s only 12.” He went on to say, “The rage is interesting—perhaps somewhat justified, but I think overblown.”
He seems to have suffered a change of heart, however, issuing both an apology and a new minimum age policy for nominees, as reported by Variety.
“Sometimes, you do things without thinking,” Wilson’s statement reads. “Then you are called out for it. Then you get it. It’s why the Razzies were created in the first place.”
Wilson goes on to apologize to Armstrong, who has been removed as a nominee, and clarified that performers and filmmakers must now be at least 18 in order to be nominated as one of the worst people of any particular year, which seems fair.
The Razzies, also known as the Golden Raspberry Awards, have been humiliating children for years. Macaulay Culkin, Brooke Shields, and Gary Coleman were all acknowledge in their tender youths. Jake Lloyd, the young Anakin Skywalkwer in 2000’s Star Wars: The Phantom Menace, gained a nomination when he was just 8, going on to tell the AVClub his life was a “living hell,” following criticism of his performance.
With a lineage of questionable nominations and an apology that’s still a bit tongue-in-cheek, many are asking if the Razzies can go on hiding behind the satirical veneer of an it’s-all-in-good-fun mentality. Jacob Stolworthy for The Independent asks, “[H]ow are the Razzies different to a playground bully picking on someone smaller than they are?”
Calls for a canceling are by now old hat and looked on by many with justified suspicion. Still, it looks like the Razzies have a lot of its own bad to own up to.