Norma Jean, has been misread. She is known by another name, Marilyn Monroe.
Some people regard her as a sexy and innocent blonde beauty, some people think she is a tragic woman who pursues her father’s love all her life, and some people think she is involved in conspiracy theories related to Kennedy. What few people care about is that behind the sex symbol “Marilyn Monroe”, the Norma Jane who reads “The Brothers Karamazov”, thinks about left-wing utopia, and cares about poor black children is a real person.
So is Netflix’s new film, Blonde Monroe. The film, which debuted at the finale of this year’s main competition at the Venice Film Festival, received 14 minutes of applause at the premiere, but was deprecated by three international judges with 0, 0.5 and 1 points.
Such a polarized situation is just like the embarrassment after the movie went online: the audience hated the exposure of Monroe’s body in the movie, and was dissatisfied with simplifying Monroe’s story to “Electra” who spent his whole life to compensate for the loss of his father in childhood. style narrative.
In this regard, Andrew Dominique, who directed the tube, uttered nonsense: “This movie has a high threshold. If the audience doesn’t like it, it is the audience’s problem.”
But the problem is that Monroe, who has been misunderstood during her lifetime, has been in danger for 60 years after her death. Without a rectification of her name, even in an era when the self-awareness of women around the world has taken a step forward, she is still being consumed and obsessed. Isn’t this a continuation of Hollywood’s exploitation of women?
Making “Marilyn Monroe”
”Blonde Monroe” framed Monroe’s life in the paradigm of “finding a daddy (Daddy)”.
From the beginning of the movie, before the mother became mentally ill, pointing to the portrait of her father hanging on the wall, to the end of the movie, Monroe received a letter that was enough to overwhelm her. Actress Ana Hamas called Daddy 238 times—in the eyes of director Dominique, father was the driving force behind Norma Jean becoming “Marilyn Monroe.”
”How does the shadow of childhood shape the worldview of adults?” Dominique was fascinated by it when reading the original film novel “Life Like a Dream”, and came up with the idea of filming “Blonde Monroe”.
Life Like a Dream is a fictional novel written by Joyce Carol Oates based on Monroe’s life. This writer, who has been placed in high hopes by the American literary circle for the Nobel Prize for Literature for many years, has been writing about women’s distress and struggle.
In the eyes of director Dominique, his father was the driving force behind Norma Jane becoming “Marilyn Monroe”.
Portrait of Monroe’s father in “Blonde Monroe”
Blonde Monroe director Andrew Dominique
Monroe described by Oates was trapped in the coercion of her native family, film industry system and patriarchal society. She never gave up her pursuit of film dreams, love dreams, and family dreams. way, to sacrifice her unrealized dream.
When the book was published at the turn of the millennium, the preface read: “A Life Like a Dream is a novel. Many of the characters portrayed in the book were very different from Marilyn Monroe’s life and times. The corresponding characters can be found, but the characterization and events in the book are completely the product of the author’s imagination. Therefore, “A Floating Life like a Dream” should only be read as a novel, not as a biography of Marilyn Monroe Unfortunately ,
however, Dominique interpreted the Monroe portrayed in this fictional memoir as an orphan girl who was abandoned by her father and her mother went crazy. The Marilyn Monroe of this missing love.
Dominique borrowed the narrative framework of Oates’ works, using the image of his father as the division of different stages of Monroe’s acting career and emotional life in the film. The handsome portrait on the wall is the father of a movie actor, and it is also the beginning of Hollywood-style dreams. The “three letters from his father” represent different stages of Monroe’s star dream.
But in fact, Monroe’s film enlightenment came from her biological mother Gladys, who was a film editor, and her friend Grace, who was also an editor with Gladys. According to the biography “Marilyn Monroe: Lies and Truth”, before the onset of mental illness, her mother often took Norma Jane to the movie theater on weekends. Grace, on the other hand, valued Norma Jean’s potential to become a Hollywood superstar early on, so after adopting Norma Jean, she planned in advance the road to become “Marilyn Monroe” in the future.
It is a pity that this important enlightenment and cultivation was discarded by film creation, and replaced by various plots in “Blonde Monroe” that were divorced from historical facts. As described by the leading actor Hamas, the film borrows many real materials about Monroe, but cuts her “epic” life with countless layers into fragments.
Resist the “dumb beauty”
”When writing a life story, how do you start?”
”True stories are often rarely recited by everyone. The more false something is, the more… So, the first step in writing a life story is to be based on truth. In
1962, Monroe asked herself this question in an interview shortly before her death. Perhaps she had foreseen that after her death, rumors would spread faster than her true nature.
“Blonde Monroe” shooting highlights, scenes based on old photos of Marilyn Monroe
Norma Jean boldly demanded equal pay for equal work and threatened the producers with a strike.
Norma Jane under the symbol of “Marilyn Monroe” has always had a clear understanding of herself. That’s why orphan Norma Jean became a symbol of American cultural success as “Marilyn Monroe.”
Monroe’s self-awareness was awakened at the age of 13. “Norma Jean, 13, knows all too well that she has the ability to turn heads and turn heads,” but she just wants to achieve her ends in a clean way without taking the risks she faced with “The Doctor” or Jack (Norma Jean was sexually molested as a child by an adoptive family).
And when Norma Jean grew up to be Marilyn Monroe, self-awareness became stronger in Monroe’s life, career, and even her works.
Norma Jean wholeheartedly despised the manipulation of Monroe as a voluptuous, innocent blond douchebag by the film industry. She once wrote in her autobiography: “When people all over the world are watching this person named Marilyn Monroe, Mr. Zanuck, who controls my destiny, can only see Norma Jane.”
”They ( Movie executives) like government officials to promote their own candidates. They don’t like the public standing up and throwing an unphotogenic thing in their lap and saying, ‘This is the girl we like.'”
Want Norma Jean, who is in control of her own life, does not regard becoming “Marilyn Monroe” as just completing the task assigned by Fox. She regards performance as an oracle, a kind of destiny, she reads Chekhov and Dostoevsky, dismantles Natasha’s pretense and cunning in “Three Sisters”, and sympathizes with “The Brothers Karamazov” Killed or convicted, or committed suicide.
When Fox used Monroe as a money-making machine, Norma Jean boldly demanded equal pay for equal work and threatened the producer on the grounds of a strike. The number of productions is equal to the number of producers participating in Fox.
Marilyn Monroe surrounded by reporters and fans outside a theater in 1953
Even in the 1950s, when McCarthyism prevailed, she disregarded Fox’s obstruction and the FBI’s surveillance, and openly opposed the persecution of communism in the United States at that time.
Although most of the time, perhaps like her added lines to the script, when faced with the evaluation of “I think you are a fool!”, Monroe suggested that the character should respond like this: “I will also be wise when necessary, It’s just that most men don’t like me like this.”
From this anecdote recorded by an assistant, it can be seen that Norma Jean has a very clear awareness of the position of Monroe as a “stupid beauty” given by the outside world. This is just as the best friend and Hollywood director John Huston said: “People say that Hollywood broke Monroe’s heart
. The system is too weak, but Monroe maintained a part of the resistance, but also made a part of obedience, and was still overridden by the male-dominated rules.
Gaze, or anti-gaze?
What is the boundary between the Monroe that existed in history and the “Monroe” that was created in the video? Should Norma Jean’s independence be seen? Should the misunderstood Monroe be rectified now? Is Blonde Monroe Another Male Gaze or the Anti-Gaze? The movie has faced controversy since its launch on Netflix.
Dominique insists that “Blonde Monroe” is anti-gaze, but unfortunately, the video does not present Monroe as the subject of the biography. Instead, she has become a woman who conforms to the public stereotype. The naive and stupid woman in the movie obediently submits to the desire and coercion of men.
”What matters is not the age when the myth was told, but the age when the myth was told.” Foucault’s words give us a perspective to interpret these controversies: from the age when Monroe was admired and admired by thousands of people as an iconic symbol, to the Was Monroe misunderstood or should she be rectified? What kind of shift in the coordinate system of the times does the change of attitude reveal?
Kim Kardashian broke Monroe’s transparent diamond skirt, which can also become the headlines of gossip entertainment.
The symbol of “Marilyn Monroe” had a submissive side at the beginning of its birth. It was the “golden age” after the war in the United States. Hollywood’s take-off required a large number of male audiences to “vote with their feet”. The most direct way to attract these users into the theater was to create a beautiful body on the screen, Marilyn Monroe is one of them.
Even though the screen image borrowed from the fashionable platinum curly hair and sexy white dress led by the Hollywood superstar Jean Harlow in the 1930s, Marilyn Monroe’s overall temperament was less vulgar and more Submissive.
And Monroe’s attainments in poetry, music, drama, etc. also enriched the connotation of her interpretation of the role. But the shrewd Monroe also knew how to hide this intelligence from the public, so as to weaken the impact of female wisdom on the self-esteem of men at that time.
More importantly, Monroe was generous with her display of sexiness. Just like when she was 13 years old because of her plump body, she attracted the attention of her classmates, but what she got was friendship and respect, not obscenity. She is sure that the vitality and maturity of her body are so positive and decent.
This kind of generosity and sexiness makes her form a clear distinction from the contemporary “lady representative” Audrey Hepburn and the representative of the aristocratic class Grace Kelly. This is as Conrad Spoto summed up in his biography: men appreciate her beauty without feeling that she is superior to them; women also feel that she does not pose a threat to them. Her admirers submit to her, but do not let her overpower them, or pay her any respect at all.
But it is undeniable that the Monroe described above was produced under gaze. Just like the line of the movie “Blonde Monroe” “As long as your name is Marilyn Monroe, this role is yours”, only surrender subjectivity, accept the fate of being stared at, and become a symbol, Norma Jean Only in that era had the opportunity to be seen by more people.
The end of Norma Jean’s life at 4 a.m. in 1962 did not mean the death of “Marilyn Monroe,” a symbol immortalized in American culture. On the 60th anniversary of Marilyn Monroe’s death, a portrait of her by Pop master Andy Warhol still fetches $195 million at auction—a new record for a work by a 20th-century artist.
And now Kim Kardashian, another representative actress of Beverly Hills, broke Monroe’s transparent diamond skirt, which can also become the headline of gossip entertainment. Everything about Monroe is the product of staring back then.
But what is gratifying is that all the controversies about “Blonde Monroe” have shown the resistance of the current opponents to the gaze, and furthermore, it is the resistance of individuals under the unequal power structure.