Who created Marilyn Monroe? Marilyn Monroe was a great artist. Her great creation was her own image.
Who was Marilyn Monroe? What was her real name? Who made her Marilyn Monroe? The Story of Marilyn Monroe Becoming Marilyn Monroe
In 1953, Alfred Kinsey published his much-anticipated new report “Sexual Behavior in the Human Female”. The first edition of Playboy magazine hit newsstands. And three new movies made their premieres, one after another, all Playboy’s first cover girl: starring Marilyn Monroe.
First Noirish Niagara, then the frothy How to Marry a Millionaire, and finally Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, the film that became one of Marilyn’s most iconic films. They were the first films in which Marilyn starred instead of merely appearing as a featured player, which propelled her to a new level of fame. In a cultural moment obsessed with sex and how women have it, Marilyn Monroe was the woman of the time. She was seen as the embodiment of sex herself, all curvy pale flesh and bright blonde hair, radiating an easy, joyful sensuality.
She was also seen as sad, unstable, and dangerous. Marilyn was rumored to be having trouble on the set. She was rumored to be her boyfriend. She was rumored to have had a miscarriage, probably a miscarriage. She was rumored to be a crazy mother. Rumor had it that she was depressed. She was rumored to be a narcissist. She was rumored to be a bitch. This darkness was also part of the image of Marilyn and was closely linked to the idea of Marilyn as a sex symbol. After all, sex is supposed to be dangerous.
Born in 1926, Norma Jean Mortensen ie Marilyn Monroe began her career as a model. She was working in a munitions factory at the age of 18 while her husband was stationed with the merchant marine and soon both left the job to become full-time models. She did pinups, art photos, commercials, and men’s magazines, and in 1946, she signed a contract with 20th Century Fox. When Niagara hit theaters in 1953, it was almost a decade’s worth of work that paid off.
In the 69 years since our culture has become no less fascinated by sex or by Marilyn herself. She rose to fame as a sex symbol and so remains, standing both for the pleasures of sex and for all its dark inverses. For a symbol since the mid-twentieth century, she has remained, oddly enough, intensely powerful.
“Marilyn is not done yet,” writes scholar Sarah Churchwell in her 2005 cultural history The Many Lives of Marilyn Monroe. “She’s still alive, selling herself, and her culture is still hurting her image. In fact, it’s consuming the images that make up her image. In the post-modern era, to our knowledge, That’s what we like to see, ‘behind the scene footage, outtakes, efforts’.
“Behind the Scenes Footage” of the Present Moment is Blonde, the new Andrew Dominic film starring Ana de Armas, based on the novel by Joyce Carol Oates. While fictional, Blondes asks us to show the emotional truth behind the open-mouthed and bare-legged image of Marilyn. Perhaps because the image in question is that of a sex symbol, the imaginary truths revealed by the blondes are all sexual as well.
We see Marilyn blissfully in a threesome, and we see her, not once but twice, tormented during a forced abortion on her reluctant body. We see her opening her vagina rapidly, violently, with a pair of forceps. We see her boyfriend sexually harassing her, thrashing her, and harassing her. We see her abortion. We see her covered in vaginal blood.
There are some imaginable sexual humiliations that the blonde doesn’t find a way to meet Marilyn during her 2 hours and 42 minutes. Meanwhile, some aspects of her life that don’t involve sex and her attendant humiliation make their way onto the screen.
If Marilyn is the epitome of sex for our culture, then the blonde is all about punishing the sexualized body. Directly, it shows Marilyn being punished by an anti-feminist society that made her a sex symbol and then hated her for it. Yet Gora is so focused on her sorrows that it seems as though Marilyn is being punished by the sadistic eye of the camera, which calls her back to life for the sole purpose of reveling in her sorrows.
At stake in all the misery in which the blonde wallops is one of the animating questions of our “knowing the postmodern era”: Was Marilyn forced to be a sex symbol? Did Marilyn become Marilyn – do voice and hair and clothes, make her cheeky dirty jokes for newspapers, embody sex so clearly – to make another 70 years a symbol powerful enough to be around? Did he do all this on purpose? or by mistake? Or because powerful men made her do it? And did she hate every minute of it?
Did he do it because he liked doing it? Or was she sad all the time? Was she in control of her body when she established that body? Or did someone else? Did someone else coin her as a sex goddess?
Who is in control of this woman and her body, in the name of God? Who else should it be?
“It was all an illusion.”
Churchwell found that after the premiere of Niagara, the press focused obsessively on the question of how Monroe developed her “walk” for a long, steady shot of her walking away from the camera, hips twitching. Monroe’s former modeling agency head Emmeline Snively said her walking was due to weak ankles; Monroe’s acting coach, Lytes, claimed to have invented it; and gossip columnist Jimmy Starr said that Monroe parted with a high heel. shaved so that her walk becomes uneven,” Churchwell reports. (Marilyn’s eventual husband, Arthur Miller, would later assure the public that she naturally walked the same way.)
Other commenters corrected the way Marilyn used makeup and cosmetics to hold her face together. She wasn’t really a beauty, she insisted; She painted herself just to look like one. “She knew every trick of the makeup business,” said Marilyn’s longtime makeup artist Whitey Snyder in an oft-quoted quote. “Sure, she looked fabulous, but it was all an illusion.”
For Marilyn’s early biographer, Maurice Zoloto, her artificially bleached blonde hair brought her to a point of no return: Once she bleached her hair, she wrote, she was forever fake.
“A bleached blonde is not natural; So she can’t wear simple clothes or make-up or be ordinary,” said Zoloto in her 1960 Marilyn Monroe. “She becomes, in a sense, an assembled product. Being artificially put together by modders, couturiers, cosmetics, and coiffures, there is a profound loss of one’s identity. Motion-picture actresses often do not understand that. Who and what they really are. They are reflections in a mirror, existing only in the reaction of the audience.”
The idea that Marilyn’s overly stylish, glamorous looks ruined her is part and parcel of the Marilyn myth. The fable here is one in which an ordinary girl named Norma Jean (sometimes misspelled Norma Jean) falls into the clutches of powerful studio executives, or the horrors of her own ambitions, or both. Together, they offer her the extraordinary Marilyn Monroe. But unbeknownst to Norma Jean, Marilyn’s creation will destroy her.
“Her worst enemy was Marilyn Monroe,” photographer George Barris commonly explained. “Her real self was little Norma Jean.”
(Cue “Goodbye Norma Jean.”)
As Churchwell points out, the Marilyn/Norma Jean split is a cliché that consistently, bizarrely, emphasizes its depth, as if it’s not so common that it’s the subject of an Elton John song. It is also an idea that seems specific to Marilyn, despite many studio actors of her era using stage names, and many of them developed public personalities separate from their personal lives.
“Judy Garland was similarly addicted to drugs and was popularly held to be ‘destroyed’ by Hollywood, but ‘Judy Garland as a person is not considered pathologically wrong,” writes Churchwell. , “Nor, really, no one mourns: ‘Goodbye Frances Gum.'” Part of a common Hollywood story for other stars appears to be uniquely sinister to Marilyn.
Who made Norma Jean into Marilyn Monroe?
What worries us is that Marilyn can be deceptive. Marilyn Monroe is considered the most wanted woman in the world, as the spontaneity and naturalness of her sexuality make her feel safe to be loved. “Marilyn suggested that sex with others may be difficult and dangerous, but ice cream with her,” wrote Norman Mailer in his 1973 book Marilyn: A Biography. But what if Marilyn was actually created to deceive, to bewitch? What if she makes you think it’s safe to keep her in a trap? Well, whose net then? Who made her like this? Who made Norma Jean into Marilyn Monroe?
The question may be anti-feminine: a woman with so much (sexual) power must be a product of a man’s imagination. It can also be asked with more feminist inflections. “What was she, this breathless, epitome of white sensuality, lips eagerly presenting themselves as surrogate piercings, whispers expressing unintentional bewilderment?” Film critic Molly Haskell wrote in her 1974 study From Reverence to Rape: The Treatment of Women in the Movies. “And who made her who she was?”
Somehow, at the heart of the question is the vague belief that there is absolutely no way that Marilyn Monroe, that poor dumb blonde, is the author of that iconic goddess Marilyn Monroe.
“MARILYN was a robot designed by MONROE Studio.”
The source material for Joyce’s Carol Oates novel, Dominic’s Blonde, is clear on the question of whether Marilyn can be called Marilyn’s author: she is not.
At times, “Marilyn” appears to emerge from Norma Jean as a trauma response: “Marilyn” is the reaction the camera has to Norma Jean’s pain, bewilderment, and dissociation. Oates offers readers their first glimpse of Marilyn when 16-year-old Norma Jean’s first husband pressures her to wear lingerie and take pictures of her. Although Norma Jean “was whispering in embarrassment” when taking the photos, Oates writes, once the photos were developed, her husband only saw “a bold, collusive girl with a sly, teasing smile.” When Norma Jean takes off her famous calendar nude, she simply removes herself from her body. The result has been astounding.
Norma Jean herself responds with disdain to “Marilyn”. Oates writes, “She disliked the name, which was concocted and confectionary,” as she disliked her synthetic bleached-blonde hair and Kewpie-doll clothes, and ‘Marilyn Monroe’ mannerisms. The very cleavage of her buttocks and twitching of her breasts as someone else in conversation might point to with her hands). Still, she is shocked to learn that Marilyn “means something to her.” She plays the role of genius.
Always, though, making Marilyn blonde is torment and torture: she must be summoned by the mirror painstakingly, momentarily, like a demon. Norma Jean associates Marilyn with subjugation, sexual humiliation, and things that happen to her body that she doesn’t want.
“She couldn’t remember how she got to the place that brought her here,” thinks Norma Jean, stripping away as JFK attacks her in a hotel suite. “Was it Marilyn? But why did Marilyn do this? What did Marilyn want?”
In Oats Blonde, Marilyn/Norma Jean is the trap faced by all post-war American women. Marilyn is the sex object who was said to want women to bleach their pubic hair, convinced that if she could only correctly embody the fantasy, but instead be humiliated and ridiculed, Then she will find love. Norma Jean is an ordinary woman ruined by her attempt to be Marilyn.
Meanwhile, the film Blonde, the production by legendary star Marilyn Monroe, is going smoothly. We meet Norma Jean first as a child and then as a young actress, and stop to portray her rape by the head of the studio who gives her her first break. Like Oates’ Marilyn, Dominic’s Marilyn is Norma Jean’s trauma reaction, but here Norma Jean is responding to her mother’s abuse when she begins to embody Marilyn. It takes the additional abuse of a series of powerful men to bring Merlin into existence. Whether Marilyn is Norma Jean’s view becomes irrelevant in this version of the story: the point is that Marilyn is, as always, Norma Jean’s path to self-destruction.
If Oates’s Merlin was a cipher for post-war American women, Dominic’s Merlin is a cipher for an abused child to a self-destructing adult. Norma Jeane is the bruised, orphaned child inside a sexpot that is designed to inflict more hurt for the rain. When we see her acting, she does it brilliantly, but Norma turns away from the version of herself she sees onscreen. “That’s not me,” she says.
In both versions, the blonde presents a Marilyn who is endlessly humiliated and endlessly broken. Her body has never been under her control, and neither is her image. That she found a way to produce art from what was sometimes done to her is beside the point: the point is that Marilyn Monroe is a bizarre object built on the corpse of Norma Jean.
In The Many Lives of Marilyn Monroe, Churchwell argues that in the end, all of Marilyn Monroe’s stories come down to corpses. This is where biographies and novels and movies begin and end: with the thrilling, titular idea that the sex symbol Marilyn Monroe turns out to be a dead body lying in the morgue. “The real Marilyn Monroe is a corpse, pure body and completely powerless,” Churchwell writes. “The focus is on her naked sexy body, and we’re left gazing at her dismembered dead body.”
“I can make my face do anything.”
Blonde director Andrew Dominic recently described Marilyn to a journalist as “this huge cultural thing in loads of movies that no one really sees.” This statement is untrue on its face (even to discount the bulk of Marilyn’s filmography, Some Like It Hot remains a beloved classic and perennial pick for one of the greatest films of all time). ), but Dominic is clumsily trying to get by. Thoughts that have some truth in them.
Marilyn is perhaps more famous and coveted for her image than for any individual performance. This is not because she was not a great actress, having produced many strong and varied performances in a tragically short career, but because her image is so strong and remains so strong. As Churchwell said, Marilyn’s work isn’t done yet. Therefore I would like to propose that this image deserves to be taken seriously as an artistic work.
What if we imagined a Marilyn Monroe who was the author of her own personality? Can we have room to imagine that Marilyn is building her star image not out of self-loathing and internalized misogyny, not for obeying cruel and powerful men, but by herself and for herself?
In the documentary Merlin on Marilyn, Marilyn tells an interviewer how she got her stage name. In her version of events, the election is a collaboration. “I wanted the name Monroe, which was my mother’s maiden name,” she says. “She [Ben Lyons, a 20th Century Fox talent agent] would always say, You know, I reminded her of Jean Harlow and Marilyn Miller. She said, well, Marilyn gets along better with Monroe.” Here, Marilyn is not hooked. About Norma Jean, The name “Marilyn Monroe” is part of a creative choice that Marilyn herself helped make.
Marilyn’s longtime makeup artist, Whitey Snyder, had the same thing to say about establishing Marilyn’s iconic look: that it was a collaboration and that Marilyn was intimately involved. “Slowly but surely, we changed eyebrows and eye shadow and things like that,” says Snyder in Richard Baskin’s Blonde Heat, describing the period around the filming of Niagara, “and the look just Gone. It’s done.” ,
Costume designer Billy Travilla quoted Marilyn as saying, “I can make my face look like anything you can take a blackboard and build out of that and make a painting.” Travilla thinks Marilyn was narcissistic in her claim, but as Churchwell points out, it seems that Marilyn has less to do with vanity and more with her craft.
“Her body was her work of art,” Churchwell writes. “She knew it was her instrument (it was once compared to the violin), but if she were both an artist and a work of art, she would live in a world that only allowed the beautiful woman to be a portrait. Could, not painter, object, not subject.
Marilyn also spoke about her own sex appeal, revealing how she could be an artist, the alienation, and the ironic effect she wanted to achieve. Graham McCann’s scholarly study of Marilyn tells her of Mae West: “I learned a few tricks from her: the notion that she laughs or makes fun of her sexuality.”
So let’s imagine that Marilyn knew what she was doing. Imagine that she did this intentionally. Imagine that powerful men took control of her body (because Marilyn, like all of us, lived in a world where powerful men do) and that Marilyn was battling depression and self-loathing, and then these Dark facts do not define her. to Merlin. herself or her job.
Imagine Marilyn Monroe was an artist and her star image was her great work of art: an epitome of sex, radiant with joy and full of potential for danger and tragedy. Imagine what would have happened if we had treated her with such courtesy.
Will it eventually become a corpse itself?