Maybe the Razzies Shouldn’t Have Nominated a Child for Worst Actress

Does a 12-year-old deserve to be singled out for a bad performance?

Ryan Kiera Armstrong in "Firestarter," a performance for which the Razzie Awards nominated her for "Worst Actress"
Ryan Kiera Armstrong in "Firestarter"
Universal Pictures

This morning, the Oscar nominations were announced, but earlier in the week the Razzies honored the opposite end of the spectrum, unveiling the nominees for their annual awards celebrating the worst of the year’s cinema. There’s long been debate about whether the snarky anti-awards show is mean-spirited or all in good fun, but this year one nomination in particular has proven especially controversial.

In addition to Bryce Dallas Howard (Jurassic World: Dominion), Diane Keaton (Mack & Rita), Kaya Scodelario (The King’s Daughter) and Alicia Silverstone (The Requin), the Razzies nominated a child for Worst Actress, bestowing the dishonor on 12-year-old Ryan Kiera Armstrong for her performance in the Stephen King adaptation Firestarter.

It should go without saying that a group of adults mocking and humiliating a kid is inherently cruel and inexcusable. Child actors — and especially young girls in the industry, who are often sexualized and objectified or pressured to change their appearance to become more conventionally attractive before they’re of legal age — already have to cope with all the pressure that comes from being pulled out of school and thrust into the spotlight before they’re emotionally mature enough to cope with it. Why pile on with some additional negativity? An adult can laugh off digs at their performance, but a kid whose prefrontal cortex won’t even be done developing for another 10 years or so is much more likely to internalize the criticism and allow it to eat at her.

And beyond the fact that singling out a child as the worst actress of the year is downright mean, it also doesn’t really make any sense. Why should we expect a young performer still finding her footing to be as good as her adult peers? We don’t expect Little Leaguers to be as skilled as their Major League counterparts. Should little Timmy from down the street be nominated for a “Worst Pitcher” award because he’s not throwing 99 mph yet?

This isn’t the first time in recent years that a Razzie nomination has proven controversial, either. Last year, the group rescinded Bruce Willis’s Worst Performance award after his aphasia diagnosis was revealed. “If someone’s medical condition is a factor in their decision-making and/or their performance, we acknowledge that it is not appropriate to give them a Razzie,” they said at the time. But what about the condition of simply being too young to know what the hell you’re doing yet? It also doesn’t feel appropriate to rag on someone for that.

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