Lauren Wong | The Poly Post

Andrew Dominik’s ‘Blonde’ exploits Marilyn Monroe’s trauma and feeds into her sexualiztion

By Kaitlyn Oliveros, Oct. 25, 2022

On Sept. 16, Netflix released Andrew Dominik’s “Blonde” starring Ana de Armas as Marilyn Monroe.

The movie is based on the best-selling biographical fiction novel “Blonde” written by Joyce Carol Oates, originally published in 1999. Oates has stated that this book should not be taken as a biography.

When I first heard this movie was being made, I honestly thought it would be a documentary on Frank Ocean’s second studio album “Blonde.” However, hearing it would be about Marilyn Monroe, I wasn’t disappointed, until I saw the movie.

I’ve never been a fan of biography movies due to the real story never being told. I tried watching this movie with an open mind, but it’s hard to do that when everything in this movie is based on rumors and lies.

The movie starts with the flash of a camera. It’s black and white. The camera then pans out and the back of Monroe’s iconic white dress she wore in the 1955 film “The Seven Year Itch” is seen. Cameramen are seen cheering the blonde bombshell on as the word “Blonde” appears in white cursive font.

Lauren Wong | The Poly Post

The movie transitioned to color as it showed a glimpse of Monroe’s childhood. Her mother was abusive, an alcoholic and suffered with mental illness. Monroe’s father wasn’t present. While I thought everything in this movie was fiction, this part happened to be true.

After her mother was sent to a mental institution for trying to kill her daughter, Monroe is taken to an orphanage. That’s the last we see of her childhood.

Throughout the film, it switches from black and white to color. I thought it was because black and white represented what was happening in the film and color represented a flashback to Monroe’s life. It turns out Dominik did this because the movie is based on preexisting imagery. In an interview he did with The Observer” newspaper, he said that if they based a scene from a black and white photo of Monroe, the scene would be black and white. If the photo was in color, the scene would be in color.

A montage of Monroe’s “provocative” photoshoots was included in the film, even the nude shoot she did which was sold in the first issue of Playboy. This didn’t sit right with me.

Knowing that Hugh Hefner had some weird fascination with Monroe and bought those naked pictures of her, published them and then seeing it be highlighted as some “iconic” shoot was disappointing. The film didn’t even acknowledge that those photos were published without her consent, and she didn’t get a dime out of it.

Another thing that didn’t sit right with me was the anti-abortion propaganda in this movie. Monroe becomes pregnant with her first husband, Charlie “Cass” Chaplin Jr. After Monroe is hit with the fear that her mother’s illness is hereditary, she gets an abortion. However, they depict it as if she was forced against her will to get one after having second thoughts. In the scene, Monroe is begging doctors to stop the procedure. Instead of listening to her, they drug her and then proceed with the abortion.

Monroe gets pregnant again with her third husband Arthur Miller. In a scene where she’s cutting roses from her garden, Monroe talks to her fetus. The fetus then speaks back, asking if Monroe will hurt it again like last time. Monroe comforts the fetus, telling it that she didn’t mean to hurt it. The fetus disagrees, claiming that Monroe’s choice was to hurt it.

There was no evidence that Monroe ever had an abortion. She did suffer a miscarriage but never had an abortion to the public’s knowledge. It’s strange to use one of Monroe’s struggles to spread anti-abortion propaganda.

The movie really didn’t give the audience a look at who Monroe was as a person. If she wasn’t having sex, she was taken advantage of sexually or crying. We don’t see the smart, creative, hard-working side of Monroe which is sad. She was so much more than a “sex symbol.”

As for Armas’s performance as Monroe, I think she did a good job. She mastered the blonde bombshell look and perfected her soft, angelic voice. Although her accent did slip through in some scenes, she did a good job.

In all honesty, this movie shouldn’t have been made. It just adds to the sexualization and abuse Monroe endured while alive. We don’t need to keep that going. Just let her rest in peace, it’s the least we can do after everything she’s been through.

Feature image by Lauren Wong

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