The Exploitation of Marilyn Monroe

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2022 was the year when the obsession with the late Marilyn Monroe continued. As you may know, people have been quick to ignore her wishes in order to associate themselves with her fame, especially since the passing of the Hollywood icon. An example: Hugh Heffner, the founder of Playboy who died in 2017, is buried in the crypt next to Marilyn’s. The same guy who published her nudes without her permission back in 1953 will be laying next to her for the rest of eternity.

Speaking of men portraying Marilyn in a way that she would never herself approve of, let us talk about the Netflix movie ‘Blonde’ that came out last month. This movie is a fictionalized take on Marilyn Monroe’s personal life. It tackles subjects that are important to women such as abortion, sexual harassment, and sexism. Yet, the people who directed and produced the film are mainly men. I think this might have been one of the reasons the portrayal of Marilyn’s struggles is so unnecessarily sexualized. There is also a forced abortion scene that just screams ‘pro-life propaganda.’ This exploitative take on her life shows that they were relying on shock value with a rather degrading portrayal of Marilyn.

Earlier this year, fans already felt Marilyn’s image was being exploited by Kim Kardashian at the Met Gala. Recent episodes of The Kardashians show how Kim lost 16 pounds in a short time to fit in Marilyn’s “Happy birthday, Mr. President” dress. This dress was designed specifically for and only for Marilyn, who almost never owned anything that was just her own. Kim wearing her dress is a continuation of Marilyn’s struggles with owning her own body and image. Although Kim paid attention to not damaging the dress, it still shows a lack of respect by wearing it solely for the shock value of it.

Because of the controversy sparked by both the film and the dress, I hope people will think twice before they use a dead person’s name for their own advantage.

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