Produced by Netflix, produced by Plan B Company led by Brad Pitt, and starring 007 girl Ana de Armas, the Monroe biopic “Blonde Monroe” is one of the most watched movies in 2022. Even its premiere at the Venice Film Festival was not well-received.
However, after witnessing it with my own eyes, I have to say that this movie is indeed despicable: using the adaptation of a fictional text as a shield, it seems to be a criticism of the Hollywood patriarchal system, but it is actually an empty consumption of Monroe’s star image.
Gossip Tabloid’s Taste of Curiosity Hunting
”Blonde Monroe” is not adapted from the real life of Monroe. It is based on the novel The Blonde by Joyce Carol Oates. This gave director Andrew Dominique “creative freedom,” and he steered the film in a tabloid-seeking direction.
Oates’ novel is a panoramic perspective on the history of the United States in the middle of the last century with the help of the image of Monroe. But Dominic Zhi is not here. He ignored the historical and cultural context of the original work when he adapted it, and instead emphasized the sensational plots in the book that are inconsistent with historical facts: Zanuck, the president of Fox Corporation, sexually assaulted Monroe that never happened ; Monroe’s three-person relationship with the two second-generation stars Chaplin and Robinson in the early days of her career; Monroe’s abortion experience that has never been recorded in history; Monroe that was only circulated in tabloids and conspiracy theory articles -Kennedy’s love story, and the legend of the US government’s persecution of Monroe.
In the film, Monroe is presented as a doll at the mercy of others, unable to walk between disaster situations. She was sexually exploited by her employer, but she didn’t have the courage to ask for help and sue; she was abused and used by her husbands, but she still coquettishly called them “daddy”; When she showed disdain, she would helplessly silence her voice; even when she went back on her abortion decision, she couldn’t be taken seriously: the chief surgeon performed the operation on his own, and Monroe in the camera would just lie in the cold like a fish. On the chopping board (hospital bed), tears flowed like rivers.
But the reality of Monroe is not like this at all. The real Monroe was an outstanding fighter and strategist, carefully controlling her public image, step by step for the camp to reach the pinnacle of her career through charisma. When her income did not match her reputation, she dared to compete with the studio and set up a personal production company to fight for higher salary and greater dominance for herself. Most importantly, in the game, she finally won the right to determine her screen image-she can play complex drama roles that interest her, instead of playing the male audience’s desire object day after day. All of this goes against the narrative of The Blonde Monroe.
At the same time, the real image of the so-called powerful men who exploited Monroe is not as flat as the movie shows. Although Monroe’s second husband, Joe DiMaggio, was rough, he also had a gentle and kind side, so Monroe decided to remarry with her. In “Blonde Monroe”, DiMaggio was just muscular and simple-minded the beast.
As for the directors who shot Monroe, they are definitely not the one-dimensional male exploiters depicted in the film. “Blonde Monroe” presents the classic plot of “The Seven Year Itch” as Hollywood’s consumption of Monroe’s body, but ignores the comedy’s ridicule of male desire – the film’s director Billy Wilder has been challenging gender norms Stereotype. Another classic movie “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes” criticized by “Blonde Monroe” is also director Hawkes’ sharp reflection on gender order. The famous song “Diamonds are a Girl’s Best Friend” sung by Monroe shows women’s unreliable self-knowledge of love and marriage, and their sense of right to gain benefits and control their destiny in the game with men. .
But in “Blonde Monroe”, Monroe only worried: “What a bad girl sang this song! When my father, who has never met me, will think of me when he sees this song?” Comparing the ideologies of these two classic films, it may be possible to draw the conclusion that Hollywood has unknowingly regressed for more than seventy years. What’s even more sad is that this conclusion is not far off the mark.
hollywood floyd cliché
On the one hand, “Blonde Monroe” emphasizes the objectified and sexualized aspects of Monroe, and on the other hand, it speculates that Monroe’s “true self” is a conservative woman who resists sex and is disgusted with her own sexy charm. It seems that for some male creators, it will always be difficult to face up to the desire of women.
Another chilling detail in the film is that Monroe’s pregnant fetus complained to her: “Will you kill me like last time?” In 2022, when the v. Wade case was overturned, it is unimaginable for a film that claims to be feminine.
What’s more, the core of the whole film is the reason why Monroe was unhappy all her life. The final answer given by the director is that she has never met her biological father. This answer explains everything: the lack of self-identity, Obsession with older men, lifelong insecurities… It’s a Hollywood-esque Freudian cliché re-imagined and the limits of the average male creator’s imagination for a runaway woman.
This is also where the split of “Blonde Monroe” lies: it ostensibly criticizes the power structure and entertainment ecology of the film and television industry controlled by the patriarchal order, but in fact it firmly places complex women like Monroe in the place that men prescribe for them. In a good position, their personalities are simplified, their rebellious consciousness is dwarfed, and their identity as subjects of desire is declared invalid.
Coincidentally, Brad Pitt, who has always been regarded as a humble gentleman, a representative of equal rights, and even wore a skirt when attending an event recently, was accused of domestic violence by his ex-wife Jolie. The matter was exposed six years ago, and after the two escalated their child custody dispute, the details of the matter were finally made public. Interestingly, in Pitt’s production list this year, in addition to “Blonde Monroe”, there are two female-themed films “She Said” and “Women’s Talk”.
It is not yet known whether the female-friendly personality that Pitt has created in recent years can be maintained for a long time. But at least the story of “Blonde Monroe” makes us see one thing clearly: not all films that accuse gender exploitation can really get rid of the influence of patriarchal thinking, and to evaluate a work objectively, we can’t just look at what the creators said, but also what the creators said. Depends on what they are doing. Weinstein’s downfall is far from the end of the cinematic journey toward equality.