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The Oscars Memoriam Had Viewers Upset. Here's Why

In 1994, the Academy Awards introduced a new tradition: the In Memoriam section, a segment of the ceremony so serious that it was presented in Latin. Since then, the In Memoriam portion of the Oscars has represented not just another approach to the mourning process, but also, unfortunately, a consistent source of outrage.

Some years, the controversy stems from perceived slights against contributors to the filmmaking process — like in 2011, when the untimely death of Corey Haim went unacknowledged. Other times, the presentation style or runtime will strike viewers as unforgivably disrespectful.

And in 2021, in the wake of the 93rd annual Academy Awards, Twitter users came together to express their dismay at these two unsettling tastes coming together in the form of a segment that they felt was too short and casually ignored the death of a beloved film and television star.

The segment moved too quickly

The first complaint that social media users had about the 2021 Oscars' In Memoriam section was a boilerplate one. The section was brief compared to other years, in a move that felt flippant to many viewers. Some noted that there wasn't enough time given to each person the Academy was trying to honor — like Marvel icon Chadwick Boseman, who died in August 2020. 

One user wrote that "the in memoriam segment was going so fast I didn't even see Chadwick's name." Another took issue with the time devoted to a less serious segment that could have been spent honoring the departed, tweeting, "Instead of wasting time with the karaoke thing they could have made a respectful In Memoriam with a decent time speed."

Elsewhere, one user stated "those names went by so fast, but did anyone see Jessica Walter in the In Memoriam? Did they just forget her?"

Jessica Walter's name was not included

In fact, the name of beloved actress Jessica Walter, who died in late March 2021, was not among those listed during the In Memoriam segment of the 2021 Academy Awards. Walter was a fixture in awards discussions throughout her career. She was twice nominated for a Golden Globe, receiving her first recognition in 1967 for Most Promising Newcomer based on her performance in 1966's "Grand Prix." She then captured audiences' imaginations as Evelyn in "Play Misty for Me," a role for which she received her second Golden Globe nomination. 

Walter went on to cement her place as a popular culture deity with her role as matriarch Lucille Bluth over the course of five seasons of the popular sitcom "Arrested Development," a role for which she received a 2005 nomination for the Emmy for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series and thrice shared in the show's nomination for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series. Walter was also known for voicing Malory Archer, mother to the title character on FX's animated spy comedy "Archer," a role for which she received multiple nominations. Walter was mentioned on the Oscars' In Memoriam webpage.

"I'm actually still reeling that Jessica Walter was left out of in memoriam at the #Oscars – she was a legend of film and TV whose illustrious career spanned decades. You would think for an annual event of such magnitude they would have SOMEONE reviewing this for major omissions," Twitter user @Trust_Progress tweeted, including a gif of Walter rolling her eyes as Lucille Bluth.

Walter wasn't the only omission that has viewers upset.

Naya Rivera was nowhere to be found among the honorees memorialized

Sadly, the late Naya Rivera wasn't mentioned during the 2021 Oscars either. The "Glee" star drowned in July 2020 while swimming in Lake Piru in Ventura County, California, with her 4-year-old son, Josey Hollis Dorsey, whom she shared with ex-husband Ryan Dorsey. Josey survived, but Rivera unfortunately didn't; her death prompted a ban on swimming at the lake, according to Metro.

One user expressed their disgust at Rivera not being included: "They are foul for not putting Naya Rivera in the in memoriam." Twitterer @margotsnaya took it upon themselves to honor Rivera, writing, "since the academy, along with the grammys, decided yet again not to include naya rivera in the tribute section of their 3 hour long show, we again have to do it for them. you're with us forever and your talent / legacy will span beyond generations."

One angry Twitter user, @r_ileymaybe, asked a pretty pointed hypothetical in response to Rivera's omission: "who the f*** am i fighting at the academy for excluding naya rivera during the oscar's in memoriam today???"