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‘Blonde’: A Unique Biopic or the Continued Exploitation of Marilyn Monroe?

An insight into Netflix’s new biopic ‘Blonde’ starring Ana de Armas as Hollywood icon Marilyn Monroe, and the criticism towards the portrayal of her life.

Credit: Netflix

An insight into Netflix’s new biopic ‘Blonde’ starring Ana de Armas as Hollywood icon Marilyn Monroe, and the criticism towards the portrayal of her life.

Norma Jeane Mortenson, most commonly known as Marilyn Monroe, is one of history’s most recognised Hollywood icons and the main feminine figure of the early 1950s and late 1960s. Despite obtaining great deals of success through various business-related endeavors, Marilyn Monroe is typically remembered for her renditions of the ‘dumb blonde’ where she embodied the aspiration of what women desired to become in society at the time, the roles and jobs offered to her by producers and directors typically placing a heavy focus on her physical attributes and beauty.

Multiple failed attempts have been made to create a biopic that enraptures the true Marilyn Monroe, from her struggles within the film industry to the battles she faced behind closed doors. However, debates and significant amounts of backlash were raised this week when global subscription streaming service ‘Netflix’ and film director Andrew Dominik announced the release of their new biopic ‘Blonde’ with Ana de Armas starring Marilyn herself. The biopic, described as a ‘psychological drama’, is based on the biographical fiction novel ‘Blonde’ by Joyce Carol Oates, published in 2000, and details the personal life of Marilyn herself. With the release of the teaser trailer, both Ana de Armas and director Andrew Dominik have faced great amounts of criticism regarding the portrayal of Marilyn Monroe, and how, contrary to being called a biopic, it seems as though the film is more like a collection of her greatest pop culture moments, once again exploiting the Hollywood icon for the character construct Marilyn Monroe as opposed to the woman Norma Jeane Mortenson. Brad Pitt, also listed as a producer on the project, stated “…that’s a tough dress to fill… it was ten years in the making” reflecting the mirrored complications between playing Marilyn and the events that she experienced within her personal life.

The biopic also raised questions when director Andrew Dominik revealed that the film is set to be marked as an NC-17, making it the first Netflix film in the United States to carry this specific rating. Many on social media argued that as the film has been deemed unsuitable for those younger than 17, it must place a heavy emphasis on the sexual exploitation of Marilyn herself, and how she contributed to the ideal of the perfect woman, hence not actually portraying her in a fair manner and “…simply using this biopic as a way to feed the public more lies”.

Although many criticize the portrayal, many are eager to view the depiction of Marilyn in ‘Blonde’, with some calling it “…the best Marilyn depiction I have ever seen”. Andrew Dominik describes the Netflix biopic as “an experience” and “a way for audiences to feel what it was like to be her”. Releasing on Netflix on the 28th of September 2022, ‘Blonde’ is set to grasp the attention of audiences all over the world in the form of an intimate revelation of the beauty of the dark moments of Marilyn’s life on and off-screen.

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