The “In Memoriam” segment is possibly my least favorite portion of any awards show. To me, it feels like salt in an already burning wound when I have to see some of my favorite artists memorialized on a giant screen on live TV. But I get why the Academy does it, and it really is a nice gesture.
However, this year’s Emmys have generated quite a bit of controversy concerning their planned memorial segment. It was announced yesterday that five stars were to be singled out and have an extended tribute within the tribute, and the inclusion of Cory Monteith is not a universally accepted discovery.
The internet has exploded with indignation over Cory being included alongside seasoned actors and writers, and Variety editor-in-chief, digital, Andrew Wallenstein stated: “When Monteith’s name is elevated alongside the other four people who are being elevated from the usual In Memoriam reel — actors James Gandolfini, Jean Stapleton and Jonathan Winters and writer-producer Gary David Goldberg — his inclusion risks coming across ill-considered.”
He continued, saying, “The unspoken, uncomfortable truth of the matter is that while the work he did on ‘Glee’ showed great promise, it was not equal to the incredible careers the other four amassed.”
Yahoo!TV has received numerous comments from their readers in response to Cory’s inclusion. Some are shocked and dismayed that while Cory will be publically memorialized; Dennis Farina and Larry Hagman were notably absent. Another user is still bitter at the lame memorial offered to the incomparable Andy Griffith at last year’s ceremony stating that he “was never given the credit he should have gotten. Shame on Hollywood. He was one of the best, put those others to shame as far as acting.”
However, it seems that the outcry is not all about the disappointment with Cory’s inclusion, who, admittedly is a rookie compared to the others he will be memorialized with, but the fact that they’re honoring a man who died from a drug overdose. This doesn’t make much sense to me since the Hollywood bone yards are littered with stars that have fallen victim to drugs and alcohol. Readers were quick to offer their suggestions for alternative methods of memorial:
I don’t think that Monteith should be honored with the others, but as a recovering alcoholic of 17 years myself who has personally watched many talented actors and other creatives die slow drug and alcohol addicted deaths, I do think the Academy might use some of it’s Emmy time to address the issues, perhaps mention some of the other recent publically noted passings of performers from as a result of their addiction and remind people there is help out there, etc, Just my two cents. (Variety reader SoberSurfer)
Of course, every argument has two sides, and there are some who believe that Cory absolutely deserves a spot in the memorial, which will be led by Cory’s affable co-star, Jane Lynch. Claire, a Variety reader, stated: “[H]e is being memorialized for his lead work in a show that was an instant, major television phenomenon from the time its [p]ilot aired, that did something not before seen on TV, and that deeply touched people worldwide.”
Any Gleek will tell you that Cory’s character, Finn Hudson, was a major draw and reason for the mega-success of the series. Cory, who has always been incredibly secure with his sexuality, portrayed a popular quarterback who was a friend to the gays and underdogs. He has publically denounced hate and bullying, and took part in several campaigns for LGBTQ rights. He stood up for what he believed in, and wasn’t afraid to encourage those around him to do the same.
While I certainly see both sides of the argument, I think I’m going to have to go against the grain on this one. I don’t believe that credits and length-of-career should be the only things considered when choosing who will be the main honorees of an “In Memorial” segment. I think it should be focused around the work these artists did, and the lives they touched. And while nobody loves Tony Soprano more than me, Cory’s legacy will be remembered forever as a positive one. The good that he put back in the world will continue to flourish and spread. He believed in equality and kindness and tried to live his life in an honest and honorable manner. If that doesn’t deserve to be memorialized, what does?