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The Controversy Behind Blonde

Updated: May 14, 2023

by Katie Nalle

Blonde is the newest addition to Netflix’s biographical films and is based on Marilyn Monroes’ life. Produced by Brad Pitt and starring Ana de Armas as Norma Jean, the hopes for this film were high. Fans were convinced that Blonde might finally portray Monroe’s life accurately, as many films have failed to do so in the past. On the other hand, some were doubtful considering that the streaming platform’s other original films and series have not been well-received in terms of accuracy either.

The film is based on Joyce Carol Oates’ 2000 novel, Blonde, which was a contender for the Pulitzer Prize at the time of its release. Ana de Armas states that she worked with a vocal coach to learn the ins and outs of Monroe’s voice and mannerisms, but she has received criticism from viewers who say she sounds nothing like the Hollywood star. Aside from the physical representation of Monroe, the film has received backlash for its depiction of Marilyn Monroe as a character. Since the film is based on a fictional novel, it is to be expected that some things may be exaggerated or played up, however, many believe that Monroe has been over-sexualized and not portrayed in a way that is at all accurate to who she really was. Blonde focuses on Monroe’s relationships, some of which are only alleged, and reduces her life to sex when in reality Monroe was not a sexual person. The film received an NC-17 rating for its depiction of female genitalia and a graphic rape scene was included in the film.

The film has received further backlash, including complaints from Planned Parenthood, for contributing to anti-abortion propaganda. In one scene, Monroe is seen speaking to her stomach inside of which we see a CGI fetus. The director of Planned Parenthood’s arts and entertainment engagement said that Blondes’ depiction of abortion and the fetus will only serve to “stigmatize people’s healthcare decisions.”

The creator of the film, Andrew Dominik, released a statement to Screen Daily in which he said “If the audience doesn’t like it, that’s the audiences’ . . . problem. It’s an NC-17 movie about Marilyn Monroe, that’s kind of what you want, right?” Dominik has been placed under scrutiny for this comment as viewers believe that Dominik made the film based on what he wanted to see, not what the audience would be interested in. This statement served to place the blame on Dominik for the heavy sexual content within the film.

The film’s cast has reached out to defend the production, saying that the film is chock full of exploitation and traumatic experiences just like how Monroe’s life was.


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