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Why Did the Razzies Think It Was a Good Idea To Pick on a Child (Again)?

Ryan Kiera Armstrong holds a lighter as Charlie in Firestarter

Following the intense backlash, the Razzies have decided to withdraw their initial nomination of 12-year-old Ryan Kiera Armstrong for Worst Actress for her role as Charlie in Firestarter. However, the incident has left critics questioning when the organization will learn from its past mistakes. The Razzies has always been controversial due to being built on a premise that insults the work of directors, actors, and screenwriters. Still, many were shocked that the organization had stooped so low as to pick on a child.

Meanwhile, the Razzies has come under scrutiny in the past, too, for similar tasteless decisions. In 2022, the Razzies decided to specifically target actor Bruce Willis by creating a category titled Worst Bruce Willis Performance in a 2021 Movie. Shortly after it established the category, Willis’ family announced his retirement from acting due to suffering from aphasia. Following the news, supporters of Willis began to call for the Razzies to retract the category, considering Willis was suffering from a language disorder while filming his 2021 films. However, the organization shocked critics by initially stating it would stand by its tasteless Willis category. Only after further continued backlash did the Razzies finally decide to retract Willis’ category.

Meanwhile, it took the Razzies 42 years to also rescind its Worst Actress nomination of Shelley Duvall for The Shining. Duvall was nominated in 1980, but in the years since, it came to light that she suffered emotional and psychological abuse at the hands of director Stanley Kubrick. These instances show the need for greater consideration and sensitivity on part of the Razzies. However, instead of learning from its mistakes, the organization decided to nominate a child for Worst Actress for the sixth time in its controversial history.

Armstrong isn’t the only child target of The Razzies

Jake Lloyd in Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace (1999)
(Lucasfilm)

The Razzies issued a formal apology to Armstrong in a statement shared with Variety. It also rescinded her nomination and revealed it was instilling a new guideline that requires nominees to be at least 18 years of age. However, the statement failed to address why this guideline wasn’t instilled decades earlier when the organizer first started targeting and picking on children. The first child nomination for Worst Actor went to 14-year-old Gary Coleman for On the Right Track in 1982. In 1995, the organization nominated 14-year-old Macaulay Culkin, not once, but three times, for Worst Actor for every one of his 1994 films. The previous most recent nomination of a child came in 2000 when 11-year-old Jake Lloyd was nominated for Worst Actor for Star Wars: Episode I—The Phantom Menace.

Meanwhile, each of these child stars’ somber stories came to light long before Armstrong received her nomination. Culkin has opened up about suffering abuse and exploitation at the hands of his parents while being forced to pursue an unwanted acting career, while Coleman later sued his parents for misappropriating his assets during his childhood career. Lloyd later gave up acting altogether after revealing that he had been brutally bullied by both his peers and the press for his role in The Phantom Menace.

In Lloyd’s case, the Razzie nomination almost certainly added to the harassment he faced for his role as Anakin Skywalker. Meanwhile, Culkin and Coleman, already suffering exploitation from their parents and the industry, didn’t need the added burden of humiliation from the Razzies. In addition to Coleman, Culkin, and Lloyd, the stories of Wil Wheaton and Jennette McCurdy have recently further raised awareness of the need for vulnerable child actors to be protected in the industry. Given the stories of the previous children they targeted, it is incomprehensible that the Razzies would attempt to inflict similar harm on yet another child. Perhaps, instead of pretending that the nomination of Armstrong was a one-off bad decision, the Razzies should also give Coleman, Culkin, and Lloyd a long overdue apology and retract their nominations.

(Via Yahoo!, featured image: Universal Pictures)

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Rachel Ulatowski is a Freelance Writer, blogger, and aspiring author. As a Freelancer Writer she hopes to give readers the same comfort and enjoyment that she finds in all things nerdy and noteworthy, as a blogger she enjoys snarking on YouTubers and reality stars, and as a future novelist she hopes to raise awareness for child abuse through literature.