Disclaimer: This article will contain minor spoilers and topics that could be triggering, such as sexual assault. Though I won’t go into much detail about each scene, I will still speak upon graphic content that may pose as unsettling to some.
Norma Jeane Baker, also known as Marilyn Monroe, is one of the most iconic women in history. It comes as no surprise that filmmakers would want to create a movie that reflects upon her success. With a devastating 42% on Rotten Tomatoes, the new Netflix film “Blonde,” starring Ana de Armas, is a fictional depiction of Baker’s life as Monroe and what led her to become the famous blonde bombshell that we all know today.
In hopes of finding a movie to help pass time after school, I landed upon “Blonde,” which was released onto Netflix on Sept. 28. I’ve always been fascinated with the past lives of Hollywood’s most famous stars, so I thought that this would suit my interests well. My impression quickly shifted about 15 minutes into the film.
I sat through nearly three hours of a presumably informational, entertaining biopic just for it to be littered with abuse and exploitation. In a way, I understand what the directors were trying to do here: make a movie reflecting upon the maltreatment of women during the golden years of Hollywood. However, the fictionalization of an actual person’s life denounced all credibility that possibly could have been given to the filmmakers.
The film starts off with Baker as a young child on her birthday. The seemingly sweet, yet oddly eerie moment lasted a short six minutes. Her mother drives them both into a large wildfire where they are directed to turn around by law enforcement. In a failed attempt of killing herself and her daughter, Baker’s mother drunkenly speeds home where she will attempt to kill her daughter again, this time by drowning. All within the first 12 minutes of a 166-minute film.
Normally, I have a high tolerance for graphic content and am not one to shy away from movies with trigger warnings, but this scene was simply disturbing and poses the question of whether or not this happened in real life. While there are reports of abuse in Baker’s childhood, there is no evidence as to if her mother really attempted to drown her.
Another part of the movie that was strikingly inaccurate was the threesome plotline. In the film, there were multiple scenes depicting a threesome between Monroe and the sons of Charlie Chaplin and Edward G. Robinson. According to Entertainment Weekly, “there is not a shred of evidence to indicate Monroe was ever in a throuple, nor that Robinson and Chaplin were gay, bisexual, or in a relationship with each other.”
All in all, the movie seemed as if it were trauma-porn to build ratings because as every filmmaker knows: sex sells. The recurring themes of sexual assault by predominant figures in the industry and society in general were created as fictional elements to increase streaming numbers. The amount of nudity in the movie was unnecessary and frankly disturbing given the circumstances, especially since the story was fabricated in a way that essentially fictionalized the entirety of Baker’s sex life.
I don’t think I would have as much of a problem with any of this if we weren’t talking about a real person. They could have picked any made up name, persona or character, but they chose Marilyn Monroe and her likeness to document a false narrative that some author made up using their imagination.
With the plot of the story aside, Ana de Armas’ acting was simply immaculate. Her mannerisms, voice and work through grotesque scenes proves her professionalism and dedication to the craft. If the storyline didn’t make me physically ill, her acting alone would put the film at the top of my charts.
In her last interview with Life Magazine in July 1962, Baker said, “Just please don’t make me look like a joke.” The fabricated memorialization of Baker as Monroe shown in this film goes against one of her final wishes, which should have been honored. I’m hopeful that there will be another movie made honoring the true story of Baker’s life and that this film will be seen for what it really is: fake.