Razzie Awards: Innocent or insulting

Noah Cannon, Staff Writer

In many ways, criticism is an essential element to the world of media and arts. It helps artists know how they succeeded, how they failed, and, most importantly, how to improve. But when does criticism start to cross the line? 

When does it stop being constructive feedback and instead become a way to merely make fun of a product or, even worse, a person? 

The nominees for the 43rd annual Golden Raspberry Awards were announced on January 22  of this year. Actors such as Tom Hanks and Sylvester Stallone were among those nominated for Worst Actor. What really caught the public’s eye was the fact that twelve-year-old actress, Ryan Kierra Armstrong, was being nominated in the category for Worst Supporting Actress for her role in 2022’s “Firestarter”, an adaptation of the novel by Stephen King. 

Upon news of her nomination, the Golden Raspberries Organization received widespread backlash and criticism for nominating a young girl in the category. 

Julian Hilliard, another child actor known for his roles in “WandaVision” and “Doctor Strange 2″, tweeted regarding Armstrong’s nomination, “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 backlash seemed to have gotten the better of Razzie founder John Wilson who later announced that Armstrong’s nomination would be revoked. In a formal statement he released, he openly apologized to Miss Armstrong and said that there will now be a guideline for voting that will exclude performers and filmmakers under 18 years old to be nominated for their awards. 

“It is why our Redeemer Award was created,” Wilson said. 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.”

That problem might be solved, but what about the universal, timeless issue of criticism, insults, and insult comedy. In the history of the Golden Raspberries Awards, Miss Armstrong has not been the only underage actor to be nominated. “Star Wars” and “Home Alone” alumni Jake Lloyd and Macaulay Culkin were both nominated at ages 10 and 13 respectively. 

While Culkin was fortunate enough to still continue his performing career, Lloyd fell into a deep depression and was bullied in school after performing in “Star Wars: The Phantom Menace” (1999). In 2020, after being arrested twice, his family revealed that he was taking treatments for his schizophrenia. 

So when does criticism and joking around cross the line? Is insult comedy reminiscent of Don Rickles or Chris Rock ever appropriate for children? Or anyone? Perhaps there is no clear answer, but as we all know, every action has a consequence.