Blonde, Criticism and Backlash
Marc Gordon - June 22, 2023

Blonde, starring Ana de Armas, was one of the most highly-anticipated films of last year. It was marketed as a biopic retelling the life of Hollywood icon Marilyn Monroe. More specifically, however, it was marketed as a feminist retelling in how it sought to deconstruct the sensationalized myths surrounding her character. However, since its release on streaming platform Netflix, this biopic has been the subject of controversy and backlash itself in how it represents Monroe.

A major criticism Blonde faces is that – despite its claims of being a faithful retelling of her life – it is based on Joyce Carol Oates’ fictionalized account of Monroe’s life. The problem with this lies in the fact that Oates’ herself has admitted to rearranging events and editing things in and out of her fictional narrative about Marilyn Monroe’s life. As such, the film cannot hope to do justice to the woman if its very source material does not necessarily follow her life truthfully.

Getty Images/ AFP/ Scott Nelson / Stringer

Moreover, many have taken issue with how graphic, violent and disturbing Blonde is. It is littered with all the violence in her life, with a questionable sprinkling of a disturbing miscarriage scene in which a foetus talks to its mother, and this has turned many a viewer – and critic – away from the film. The fact that writer-director Andrew Dominik refuses to pay heed to criticism of his film simply stokes the flame.

However, despite all this, the central reason behind the backlash is the fact that many believe Marilyn Monroe should be allowed to rest. After a largely unhappy life in which she was exploited left, right and center, it doesn’t make sense to “honor” her legacy by marketing a fictionalized version of her story. In fact, many believe that this is no different then exploiting her even in death, and so Blonde’s very existence becomes an upsetting phenomenon.

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