One of the most outspoken and influential comedians of our time passed away last year, but you wouldn't know that from the Academy Awards' In Memoriam.
Joan Rivers was omitted from the tearful segment, intended to commemorate the work of significant Hollywood, despite covering the awards show red carpet for years. At first, I thought I missed her, but it quickly became clear that her title card was nowhere to be seen. I wasn't the only one floored by the Oscar overlook; viewers took to Twitter to voice their outrage.
The tone of the responses ranged from funny to serious, but the overwhelming message was clear: Joan Rivers should have been include in the In Memoriam.
Seriously, what gives?
When asked about the lack of Joan, a rep for the Academy told Buzzfeed News:
“Joan Rivers is among the many worthy artists and filmmakers we were unfortunately unable to feature in the ‘In Memoriam’ segment of this year’s Oscar show. She is, however, included in our ‘In Memoriam’ gallery on Oscar.com.”
It has to be difficult fitting all the deserving people into an already bloated program, but this was one major oversight. Here's why Joan Rivers deserved to be remembered during the live telecast.
The segment wasn't limited to conventional Hollywood "royalty"
Many defenders of Joan's exclusion point to the fact that she was more associated with TV than movies. However, there were a fair number of honored people who were NOT best known for their contributions to the film industry. For example, the wonderful Maya Angelou received a mention, but she is much more associated with her ubiquitous poetry rather than her few film credits.
Okay, so you can certainly argue that Angelou directed one film, but what about Gabriel Garcia Marquez? A legendary author, yes, but has he influenced Hollywood more than red carpet maven and quick-witted interviewer Joan Rivers? Nope, I don't think so, which brings me to my next point...
She directed her own movie
Way back in 1978, Joan Rivers did what many women in Hollywood still struggle to get recognition for: she directed her own film Rabbit Test. The lead was a young Billy Crystal, and Joan also wrote and starred in the film. It may not be the most significant film of all time, but if Angelou can get credit for directing a film, then Joan should as well.
Plus, Joan had appearances in classic films like Spaceballs and The Muppets Take Manhattan. She was also the subject of one of the best documentaries of the decade, Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work, which was overlooked by Academy voters in 2010. All in all, Rivers had an effect on film, especially in relation to celebrity culture, which brings me to arguably her most substantial legacy.
Joan was a red carpet mainstay
The most obvious and significant reason why Joan should have gotten some recognition from the Academy is the simple fact that she defined the red carpet for years. Starting on the E! channel in 1994, Joan immediately became associated with asking celebrities, "Who are you wearing?" Her interview style and relentless approach made the fashion at awards shows—including the Oscars—as noteworthy as the winners. Many viewers tuned into the award show and its pre-show just to see what celebs were wearing, and the Academy has Joan to thank for that.
Couple this with her tenure on Fashion Police, which made Oscar fashion appear like the most important event since the invention of the miniskirt, and you've got definitive proof that Joan was egregiously overlooked.