Razzie Awards Draw Sharp Criticism For ‘Firestarter’ Child Star Nomination: ‘Disgusting and Wrong’ (Updated)


Ryan Kiera Armstrong in ‘Firestarter’ (Photo: Ken Woroner/Universal Pictures/courtesy of Everett Collection)

UPDATE January 25, 2023: In response to the outcry, the Golden Raspberry Foundation removed 12-year-old Ryan Kiera Armstrong from the ballot. In a statement, Razzies co-founder John Wilson apologized and called the criticism “founded”, saying the backlash “draws our attention to how insensitive we have been on this case. We also believe that a public apology is due to Ms. Armstrong, and we want to say that we are sorry for any pain she has experienced as a result of our choices.”

ORIGINAL STORY: Since their launch in 1981, the Golden Raspberry Awards have positioned themselves as the anti-Academy Awards. By proclaiming themselves “Oscar’s Ugly Cousin,” the incendiary Razzies dishonored the worst films and performances in an industry notorious for over-rewarding itself with wayward categories at this time of year. For instance, Jackass: the movie won the windiest teen film in 2002, while the infamous turkey The cat in the hat was voted the worst excuse for a real movie in 2003.

Good-natured celebrities like Tom Green (a five-time winner for 2002’s Freddy got fingered), Halle Berry (2004’s Worst Actress cat lady) and Sandra Bullock (who scored a Razzie for All about Steve the night before winning an Oscar for The blind side in 2010) all showed up at the otherwise low-key ceremony to collect their trophies.

In more recent years, however, the Razzies have lost both the pop culture cachet and the goodwill of cinephiles. “Is it time to end the Razzie Awards?” more than a few pundits have asked. Some of the backlash can be attributed to fatigue – perhaps we’ve evolved past the snark; perhaps the four-decade-old joke just jumped the shark — but the nominating committee has also made some very public missteps in recent years that have led to growing criticism.

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The latest controversy came Monday when the Razzies selected a 12-year-old Fire starter actress Ryan Kiera Armstrong on the list of nominees for Worst Actress, up there with Bryce Dallas Howard (Jurassic World: Dominion), Diana Keaton (Mac & Rita), Kaya Scodelario (The daughter of the king) and Alicia Silverstone (The Requin).

Never mind that Armstrong (The chapter two, Black Widow, The Old Way) is one of the most talented, most prolific child actors working, or that she wasn’t the worst part of Stephen King’s botched remake. The problem, of course, is that she’s a kid who gets mocked by adults – even though the Razzies insist it’s all just a joke.

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Either way, the organization faces a stinging rebuke over the nomination.

“If you thought the Razzies were going to decide to be less mean this year, think again because among the nominees for this year’s worst actress is a 12-year-old girl,” she wrote. Variety‘s Ethan Shanfeld.

“The Razzies have sunk to a new low by nominating an 11-year-old girl — whose performance I actually dug,” tweeted filmmaker Joe Russo (no WhichJoe Russo). “If you continue to denigrate people’s hard work — which you shouldn’t — at least target adults.”

“The [Razzies] are already mean and classless, but nominating a child is just disgusting and wrong, wrote another child actor, Julian Hilliard. “Why put a child at risk of being bullied more or worse? To be better.”

There was no direct comment from the Golden Raspberry Foundation, the group behind the Razzies, about the latest backlash.

While Armstrong’s nomination appears to be a tipping point, this isn’t the first child actor to be nominated by the organization. Past nominees have included Diana Scarwid (who played Joan Crawford’s daughter in 1981). Mom dear), Jake Lloyd (who played a very young Anakin Skywalker in 1999 Star Wars: The Phantom Menace) and Macaulay Culkin (for three different performances in 1995).

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The controversy over Armstrong’s nomination comes just a year after the Golden Raspberry Foundation embarrassed itself by creating a special category called Worst Performance by Bruce Willis in a 2021 movie. Willis had appeared in 11 films by 2021, but multiple reports suggested that, due to his deteriorating health, he was being exploited by the industry to appear in cash grab films.

There are certainly factions of movie fandom that have never given much credence to the Razzies. In their first year, the Razzies focused on another Stephen King adaptation, with Stanley Kubrick getting worst director for the horror classic The shining. however, the organization behind the awards announced last year announced it would “take back” the award for worst actress from costar Shelley Duvall due to the alleged abuse she received on set from Kubrick.

But as the animosity toward the Razzies seems to grow with age, it looks like Hollywood has an absolute contender for the Worst Award Show.


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