Monday, October 03, 2022

TV: Crucifying Marilyn Monroe

The only thing worse than a bad movie?  A novelist who defends it?


Joyce Carol Oates.  A literary legend, one who's never impressed us -- in fact, one of us (Ava), wrote a college thesis on Oates' output including "Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been" that she entitled "What Is She Saying, What Does She Mean?" because obscure is a kind word to describe JCO's writing.  

Joyce wrote the novel BLONDE and, in 2000, it got her on TV.  THE ROSEANNE SHOW, the talk show hosted by Roseanne Barr, made her a major guest because that's what real feminists do -- they support other women.  We mention that because Joyce's history is one of celebrating artists -- male artists.  But she wants to be considered a feminist.  Sorry, Joyce, we're not idiots.

It's no surprise that she's now defending the brain-free Andrew Dominik and his hideous NETFLIX film BLONDE.  Joan always rushes to rally around the boys, after all.

The film trashes her novel.  When we watched the film last Tuesday, we remembered that CBS turned her novel into a mini-series.  You can watch it for free on AMAZON and, we were going to.  We were.  Because we were going to defend her novel -- which we've both read -- and explain how the mini-series did a much better job than the film.

But then we saw Joyce rushing to defend Andrew and we thought, "You know, no.  Just no.  We're not going to waste our time defending the work of some queen bee who never helps other women and who won't even defend her own writing when a man destroys it."

That's how pathetic Joyce Carol Oates is, she just begs men to hit her again over and over.

BLONDE is an NC17 film.  Or something.  Watching we thought, "Wow, in forty years we can't wait to see the tight shot of Brad Pitt sucking cock."  Brad, of course, is one of the producers of this monstrosity.  And we're hoping karma does to him what he helped do to Marilyn.


Marilyn Monroe.  She's supposed to be the main character in BLONDE.  It's supposed to be about her.

It's not.

It's about Andrew's life and about how a girlfriend didn't want to have his child -- the same girlfriend he's made Ana de Armis look like -- even down to the haircut which is not a Marilyn Monroe hairstyle.

Andrew got all bent of shape when the girlfriend didn't want to have his baby and didn't want to be with him anymore.  He finally gets his revenge a few years later by making BLONDE and making it an attack on women and on abortion.

Attempting to puke his own issues onto the screen, Andrew makes Marilyn someone who had abortions.  The last time we encountered this degree of misogyny, we were watching PARAMOUNT+'s BEHIND THE MUSIC which got dumped online last July.  Seventeen episodes -- only three featured female artists -- the Bangles, Alanis Morissette and Shanai Twain.  But it got worse.  The George Michael episode, for example, wanted you to know that few artists ruled in the 80s the way George did.  Absolutely, we agree.  However, we don't agree with the bulk of who they showed while making this declaration: Michael Jackson (absolutely), Madonna (ibid), Prince (ibid), Bruce Springsteen -- huh?

Bruce 'ruled' the pop charts only during BORN IN THE USA.  If one album qualifies, where's Tina Turner -- who racked up big hits from PRIVATE DANCER as well as off a soundtrack and a follow up album.  Where's Janet Jackson, for that matter?


It's as though we're back in the 20th century where, regardless of what was in the top ten, pop radio stations refused to program two women in a row.  This how they operated -- even the week of June 30, 1979 when the top five songs on BILLBOARD's top forty pop chart were  Rickie Lee Jones' "Chuck E.'s in Love" at number five, number four was Sister Sledge's "We Are Family," number three was Donna Summer's "Bad Girls," number two was Donna's "Hot Stuff" and number one was Anita Ward's "Ring My Bell." BEHIND THE MUSIC is supposedly dead now.  We hope so.  17 episodes and only three about women with women being ignored even for citations in the other fourteen?  We certainly hope that BEHIND THE MUSIC died on the sexist mountain it elected to climb.

BLONDE dies repeatedly.  It's showy and pretentious -- Joyce praised that! -- with black and white film and color film and shots and processes that don't add to any understanding but a few fools will pretend are the mark of genius.  They don't care that things are made up throughout or that there is very real hate aimed at Marilyn.

There's some talk that the harassment and rape has offended some.  We're not offended by that.  Maybe JFK raped her, maybe he didn't.  We're offended by what the director is doing.  Marilyn's never an adult, Marilyn's never smart.  She's not a person, just some forever drugged out junkie whose body is forever on display naked.  

And she's always around men, forever around men, constantly around men.  At one point, she actually has a scene with several women (reading fan mail) and it's a bit of shock since the only woman she ever encounters in adulthood elsewhere in the film is her mother.  

That wasn't Marilyn's life.  Her co-star (in GENTLEMEN PREFER BLONDES) Jane Russell is mentioned but not shown, nor is their friendship noted.  More curiously, we never see Paula Strasberg.  


That's a big problem especially when Andrew's trying to make Marilyn look like she's going insane on the set of SOME LIKE IT HOT.  He has her rushing off with Whitey Snyder -- her make up artist.  That's not reality.  If she's unhappy with the take, she's huddling with Paula.  She's looking to Paula, not Billy Wilder (the director -- who himself was on drugs during the shooting of SOME LIKE IT HOT, if we want to get the record right) after each take to make sure it was a good take.  Paula worked with her on so many films.


Another woman who worked with Marilyn, Natasha Lytess.  She's also not present.  Apparently, Marilyn never worked with women.  She also didn't work on her craft per BLONDE.  She went to auditions where she displayed her mental illness, according to the film, and she went to the Actors Lab so she could get in a thruple with the sons of Edward G. Robinson and Charlie Chaplin who, the film wants you to believe, are the ones who convinced Marilyn that she had a body that people wanted to see -- somehow this insulting detail -- as an adult she even has to be educated about her own sex appeal --  ignores the reality of the modeling (including nude).  So she needed a man to discover the beauty and allure of her body and point it out to her and she never worked on her craft (that would explain the absence of Natasha and the failure to address Marilyn's time at The Actors Studio in NYC).  

It's an insulting portrayal and so it's not surprising to come across interviews where Andrew flat out attacks Marilyn and claims there's no reason she should be remembered today and that no one watches her films anymore. 

SOME LIKE IT HOT.  Marilyn won the Golden Globe for Best Actress for her portrayal in that film -- "one of the most beloved films of all time" to quote from the packing of THE CRITERION COLLECTION's latest release of the 1959 film.  SOME LIKE IT HOT which was inducted into the National Film Registry in 1989, which the American Film Institute voted as the best comedy film of the last 100 years in 2000, the film which a 2017 BBC poll of critics found to be the best comedy ever, which in 2010 THE GUARDIAN ranked as the third best comedy of all time which was screened in 2018 -- almost sixty years after it's original release -- at the Venice International Film Festival.

And that's just one of Marilyn's classic films.  

Andrew's surprised anyone remembers Marilyn.  We're quite sure no one will remember Andrew.

People should remember Ana de Armas -- at least that she did a horrible job playing Marilyn.  Some are rushing to insist she's wonderful, she's Marilyn come alive.  No, she's a disgusting parody of Marilyn.  When it comes to imitation Marilyns, Ana's far, far behind even Jayne Mansfield.  She's playing a kewpie doll, she's not playing Marilyn.  She doesn't have the voice down.  It's most obvious when she tries to recreate the scene in the train bathroom from SOME LIKE IT HOT but can't nail down Marilyn switching to her lower voice.  No, Ana just chirps.

She's never once convincing as Marilyn.


Let's quote from WILL & GRACE's "Girl Trouble" episode where Megan Mullally's Karen is advising Natasha Lyonne's worshipful Gillian that Gillian will never, ever be Karen Walker.


Karen: Honey, you're not me and you never will be.


Gillian: Is it the rack?


Karen: [Laughing] No . . . But it's a big part of it.

Watching Ana wander around naked in one scene after another while never capturing Marilyn, you should grasp that the rack is a big part of it.

She doesn't have the boobs for Marilyn.  They could have created prosthetic ones and had her wear them (worked for a penis for Mark Wahlberg in BOOGIE NIGHTS).  Or they could have cast an actress with bigger boobs.  Ana looks like a little boy with two small boobies falling to his waist.


Melody Anderson, Ashley Judd, Michelle Williams, Catherine Hicks and many other women have played Marilyn convincingly and had the body to make it so.  


Ana lacks the body, lacks the charisma and lacks a script.  Maybe that's why all she can muster is a bad caricature?  All Andrew can muster is being this decade's Mike Sarne -- and the good news there is that this means his time as a director is very limited.

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