Monday, February 25, 2019

Why I Am Angry About the In Memoriam Segment During the Oscars Telecast

Every year, on the day after the Oscars ceremony, I usually do a review of the ceremony itself. That isn't happening this year. Like many classic film buffs I was disappointed and angry at the many people omitted in this year's In Memoriam segment that aired during the telecast. In my case I was so disappointed and angry that I missed much of the rest of the ceremony. I had to look up who won Best Actor this year on the internet.

As to the primary source of my disappointment and anger, I think those who know me and those who read this blog probably know what it is. Quite simply, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences omitted my dearest Vanessa Marquez from the In Memoriam segment. They did this despite a petition to include her in the In Memoriam segment during the telecast having reached 8700 signatures. This petition was well publicised, with stories on it in such sources as The Los Angeles Times and Deadline. I know for a fact that the Academy received multiple letters, emails, and phone calls urging them to include Vanessa in the In Memoriam. I wrote the Academy a letter myself and signed another that had 59 other signatures. Not only did several people express their frustration at the Academy for having omitted Vanessa from the In Memoriam on Twitter and elsewhere, but several news sources, including The Los Angeles Times, Variety, and yet others noted her omission.

Now I know that many people will point out that I am biased with regards to Vanessa. After all, my feelings for her are no secret, not even in Hollywood. That having been said, I think there are some very good reasons that the Academy should have included Vanessa Marquez. First, Vanessa was a remarkably talented actress. She had a talent for transforming herself into any character she chose, and played such diverse roles as Ana Delgado in Stand and Deliver (1988), Melanie in Twenty Bucks (1993), and Nurse Wendy Goldman on ER. In every single review I have read of various plays in which she appeared, even when the play itself might not have been reviewed favourably, Vanessa was singled out for praise. Second, Vanessa was a true pioneer with regards to Latina actresses. At the time that Vanessa's career was flourishing, there was very little in the way of representation of Latinas in film and television. When she appeared on ER, Vanessa was one of the few Latinas to appear regularly on American television. What is more, Vanessa played non-stereotypical roles. Never in her career did she play a part that could be described as a stereotype. Third, the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences has historically had a problem with diversity, particularly with regards to Latinxs, Native Americans, and Asians. Vanessa Marquez is not the first Latina to be snubbed with regards to the In Memoriam segment that aired during the telecast by a long shot. In 2013 the Academy omitted Lupe Ontiveros from the In Memoriam segment, despite a career that spanned nearly 45 years. It is to be noted that those who were included in last night's In Memoriam segment were mostly white. If the Academy truly wanted to prove they have no problems with diversity, they should have included Vanessa and other people of colour in last night's In Memoriam.

While the Academy ultimately chose not to include Vanessa in the In Memoriam segment of the Oscars telecast, I would like to thank everyone who signed and shared the petition to include her in the In Memoriam. I would also like to thank everyone who wrote letters and emails to the Academy, and made phone calls to the Academy. In particular I would like to thank actress Lydia Nicole (who set up the petition to begin with), #TCMParty co-founder Paula Guthat (who alongside myself tweeted it regularly since October), the cast of Stand and Deliver (who promoted it and got it out to a wider audience), actress Julie Carmen (who tweeted it several times), and everyone who supported adding Vanessa to the In Memoriam in some way, shape, or form. Vanessa always seemed to think that she was underappreciated as an actress. I always told her that she was wrong, that people not only appreciated her, but loved her. I am glad to say that the campaign to get Vanessa added to the In Memoriam telecast has proven once and for all that Vanessa was very much appreciated and loved by many around the world. 

Of course, my beloved Vanessa Marquez was in good company in being omitted from the In Memoriam segment of last night's Oscars telecast. Many were outraged that the legendary Carol Channing was omitted from the In Memoriam. While Miss Channing appeared in only a few films, the films in which she appeared were significant and she was a long-time supporter of the Academy. They also excluded Stanley Donen, the director of such legendary films as Singin' in the Rain and Seven Brides for Seven Brothers. While Mr. Donen died only recently, today we have the technology to edit film and video very swiftly. Indeed, I could have added Mr. Donen here at home with the video editing software I have! Even if they did not have time to add Stanley Donen, they could have at least mentioned him prior to the In Memoriam segment. They also excluded legendary singer Aretha Franklin, who appeared in several films and probably had a greater impact on popular culture than many who were included. As to yet others who did not appear in last night's In Memoriam segment, they include Julie Adams, Joseph Campanella, Mary Carlisle, Dick Miller, Abe Vigoda, and yet others. Despite this, the Academy had plenty of time to include publicists and agents in the In Memoriam segment that even Academy members in the auditorium probably did not recognise. Sister Celluloid has an extensive list of those who were omitted in the In Memoriam on her blog.

What makes the omissions during this year's In Memoriam segment all the more worse is that people have been complaining about beloved actors, actresses, and directors being omitted during In Memoriam segments for literally years.  Indeed, in 2013 they omitted such heavyweights as Harry Carey Jr., Andy Griffith, Dorothy McGuire, and Ann Rutherford. Every year the Academy omits people from the In Memoriam segment, and every year viewers are outraged. You would have thought they would have learned by now.

The past many years both ABC and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences have been concerned about the falling ratings of the Oscars ceremony. Quite frankly, I think much of the reason ratings have been falling is the omissions during the In Memoriam. I know a few people who have entirely stopped watching the Oscars simply because they have grown increasingly angry about the many omissions during the In Memoriam segment. What the Academy ought to realise is that the In Memoriam segment should be made for the viewers at home, not members of the Academy. That means that they should include people that the viewers know and love, such as Carol Channing, Aretha Franklin, and Julie Adams. And when a petition for someone like my beloved Vanessa reaches 8700 signatures and receives nationwide coverage in the press, they should be sure to include her in the In Memoriam segment. What the Academy has to realise is that when they omit someone that the audience loves and respects, the audience is likely to take it as a personal insult. They can always omit the publicists and agents. Believe me, no one in the audience will notice.

1 comment:

Caftan Woman said...

Well said.