The Razzie Awards are making some changes following the backlash surrounding 12-year-old Ryan Kiera Armstrong’s nomination for “Worst Actress” for her performance in Firestarter. First, the organizers of the film awards have retroactively removed Armstrong from the nominee list.
“Sometimes, you do things without thinking,” John Wilson, head of the Razzie Awards, says in a statement, per The Hollywood Reporter. “Then you are called out for it. Then you get it. It’s why the Razzies were created in the first place.”
Despite previously saying the “rage” surrounding Armstrong’s nomination was “overblown,” Wilson has since issued an apology to the actor and says from now on those under 18 will be exempt from the Razzie Award nominations.
Wilson says it “brought our attention to how insensitive we’ve been in this instance. As a result, we have removed Armstrong’s name from the final ballot that our members will cast next month. We also believe a public apology is owed Ms. Armstrong, and wish to say we regret any hurt she experienced as a result of our choices.”
“We have never intended to bury anyone’s career,” Wilson concludes. “It is why our Redeemer Award was created. We all make mistakes, very much us included. Since our motto is ‘Own Your Bad,’ we realize that we ourselves must also live up to it.”
This is not the first time the Razzies have nominated a child actor. Famously, the voting body gave a nomination to Jake Lloyd for Star Wars: Episode I—The Phantom Menace in 1999, as well as Macaulay Culkin for Getting Even With Dad, The Pagemaster, and Richie Rich, all in 1995. Lloyd’s nomination is a particular sore spot, as he later quit acting due to his bullying from the press and public.
It’s a shame that sometimes adults need a reminder to not, you know, bully children, but here we are. This writer’s ethos when it comes to child actors is: if they put on a stellar performance, good for them! If they didn’t, well it’s okay, because they’re a child. Children simply do not have the same emotional processing skills as their adult counterparts and are less likely to be able to brush off something like a Razzie nomination (as seen with Halle Berry’s acceptance speech for Catwoman).
All in all, the Razzies are meant to be taken in good fun, but when a nomination feels like punching down, a need for sensitivity comes into play. The Razzies have come up against this before, retracting nominations for Bruce Willis and Shelley Duvall in light of the extenuating circumstances surrounding their performances.