Review: Marilyn deserved so much better


Blonde | Netflix Media Center

Karina Ordonez

“Don’t make me into a joke.” A quote by one of the most famous actresses of all time, Marilyn Monroe, referring to how she wanted to be remembered after her death.

Monroe is one of the most recognizable faces of both her time and the modern era, having broken countless barriers and redefined Hollywood. However, she was also an incredibly intelligent woman with a love for reading, studying historical literature when she was not on set at UCLA and constantly participating in philanthropy to help the lives of children without a home.

She also went on to support the civil rights movement, as well as give aid to her openly gay co-stars. Marilyn fought for equal pay for women in Hollywood and founded her own production company named Marilyn Monroe Productions before her death. While all these accomplishments are wonderful, none of them made it into the 2022 movie about her life.

Directed by Andrew Dominik, “Blonde” hypersexualizes Monroe even more. It is completely unsympathetic in its portrayal of her, making her up to be nothing more than a dumb, depressed and desperate young woman. The film adds absolutely nothing to her story that has not been said before, it is ultimately nothing original.

In fact, the only notable difference between “Blonde” and other movies portraying the actress is the amount of sex or glorified sexual assault scenes. The movie is based on the novel of the same name by Joyce Carol Oates, which is a fictional biography of Monroe. This is extremely problematic in telling the story of someone’s life considering she was a real person and can blur the lines in terms of which events are actually true to viewers.

Early in the film, Marilyn is assaulted by a film executive who is implied to be Darryl Zanuck, who in real life was infamous for disliking Monroe and being vocal about not finding her attractive. This scene is unnecessary trauma porn.

At the time, Zanuck made her life harder by putting her in the box of the “dumb blonde” girl and not allowing her to do other roles, even though she was capable of acting in them. The film repeatedly implies that she received her big break because of that traumatic event, completely diminishing her talent and work ethic and representing the director’s clear desire to diminish her accomplishments.

The director also uses Monroe’s first time getting pregnant for what some have seen as a pro-life message, complete with a bizarre CGI fetus for shock value. The scene ignores the fact that she would not be that far along in her pregnancy scientifically. She is haunted by this throughout the film, even having a scene where a child’s voice blames her for the abortion.

There is no evidence that this abortion ever occurred, making this addition to the film very cruel, especially since the real Marilyn had difficulties conceiving because of endometriosis, which resulted in several miscarriages. Dominik has her trip on the beach and has guilt about the situation.

The film goes on to explore her relationship with former U.S. President John F. Kennedy, but is shown to be nothing but sex, further sexualizing Marilyn and Ana de Armas, who portrays the actress, by association. As this relationship continues, there are also implications of sexual assault and more abortions.

This is extremely disrespectful to victims of sexual assault and especially to Monroe. If someone is assaulted, it is not the job or responsibility of anyone to talk about their story. Glamorizing assaults and situations that never happened without the permission of the person is inhumane. It is especially awful since Monroe passed away decades ago and has no way of defending herself.

The movie emphasizes the absence of her father and has Monroe call the men in her life “daddy” which is very infantilizing and even feels fetishistic, not to mention being, once again, completely false. This disregards her very real struggles with mental illness and suggests that a man was her only reason for living.

When all is said and done, the film’s deviation from the truth is nothing but a cheap gimmick. These fabrications do nothing for her character and simply victimize Marilyn over and over again. The director seems to genuinely believe that she brought these hardships onto herself, and even went as far as to say in a quote that “she wanted to destroy her life.”

This film goes against what they were trying to do and is less like a commentary on her mistreatment but instead it is as if the director is getting off on her suffering. It refuses to talk about anything in her life that is not centered around men and her movies.

Beautiful women can be more complex than just their persona and until America realizes that, abominations like this movie will continue to happen.