Things That Make You Go Hmmm #3

Standing in line at the supermarket counter yesterday I was confronted by yet another magazine cover parading a movie star dressed like Marilyn Monroe. I didn’t care enough to note which magazine it was because I was so turned off by the cover. The star was wearing THE dress from the now infamous “The Seven Year Itch” film, re-designed in peach tones with the blonde, stylized hair to boot. I mean is there anyone left who doesn’t know who made that style famous? I didn’t think so lol.

I have no deep hate of Marilyn Monroe but I do take umbrage with her icon status. Why exactly is she famous? I have watched enough of her movies to say that it was definitely not for her acting or singing ability. Although, I was fascinated and a little horrified to find out that she won a Golden Globe (like ever) for her performance in “Some Like It Hot”.  All I can say is that she played the dumb blonde to perfection.

I may be in the minority but frankly her breathy, child-like moronic patter is sure to make me turn the channel. And yes, I know she’s yummy to look at, like an overripe fruit just about to burst from the confines of her dress, but so was Mae West and Jayne Mansfield, yet the media has pretty much let them die quietly away. If proportions are the requirement either one if them could have given Marilyn a run for her money.

So, what is it? Could it be her affair with our beloved President Kennedy? Admittedly, there are tons of consorts throughout history who by merit of their association with powerful men, their riveting beauty, devastating charm and intelligence will always shine in our memory. However, I would not put Marilyn in that category. She was so one dimensional that it’s almost laughable. Her life is more to be pitied when you take into consideration her childhood, relationships and issues with drug use. One can argue that her public persona was driven by cultural norms and expectations at the time but times have changed. So, why in the 21st century are we still holding her up as some type of sex goddess worthy of emulation?

Which leads me to ponder what makes one an icon? Should it only be based, as it clearly is in some cases, on one’s attractiveness? Box office success? Talent? We can’t rely on what’s popular to create our icons because their standards are rather low. I’m just saying….

It peeves me that some moron is sitting behind a desk somewhere thinking that a modern woman would wish to idealize a woman of the 50’s. A decade that historically speaking was rife with caricatures of womanhood as they were still very much at the mercy of a patriarchal system. There are plenty of women I wish to emulate but Marilyn isn’t one of them. Hmmm, maybe Pam Grier, Linda Carter or Lucy Lawless would work for me. Strictly from an attractive, sexy, woman of strength persona.

I suppose this is why I am not a magazine editor because heads would roll once they came prancing in with the same old, re-packaged crap. It definitely doesn’t represent out of the box thinking.

I know! They must’ve been blinded by all those curvessssssss lol.

P.S. – Would you believe that THE dress sold at auction for 4.6 million dollars? If Snooky becomes an icon I am going in search of a gun.


14 thoughts on “Things That Make You Go Hmmm #3”

  1. –You know, I absolutely loved Marilyn. I think because of her innocence & vulnerability.

    I always want to take people like her under my wing. You know, people that others just throw away and consider stupid and ignorant.

    I have a heart for those sad creatures…


  2. For me, Marilyn’s image is iconic but Marilyn is not necessarily someone I would consider an icon.

    Her death most definitely contributed to enhancing her place in pop-culture and I wonder if it is this more than anything else that keeps the fascination alive.

    I see an image of Monroe and immediately think of the era. This happened yesterday, when I got home and saw her on the screen. Before I knew it I was watching the film to the end and longing for the days when I would regularly watch the afternoon matinee on TV.

    Lauren Bacall; Dirk Bogart; Doris Day; Cary Grant and Grace Kelly. All stars, all iconic symbols of an era – but are they icons?

    As for Beyonce’ – I stopped being enamoured after The Writing’s on the Wall; the watershed moment before her work just became so much ‘flesh & noise’.

    1. Hey Mark,

      Good to hear your voice. We missed you as you have been drowning in that tedious business called life. I have to say that I really enjoyed reading your comment. It made me think just why I love to sit and watch Audrey Hepburn, Laurence Olivier, Grace Kelly, Elizabeth Taylor, Humprey bogart, Joan Crawford, Natalie Wood etc. I love the history, viewing life through the lens of past, enjoy the culture, richness of black and white cinematography and the timeless perspectives of the human condition. I LOVE the clothes too, fashionista that I am 🙂

      And yes, you hit it – What exactly makes an icon. Stay tuned for the post 🙂

  3. I remember seeing on 60 Minutes some 17 or 18 years ago a story of an African-American man in Arkansas who, despite being illiterate himself, had built and stocked a library in his hometown because he believed in the power of education. He wasn’t a wealthy man, either, just a regular laborer, but he wanted to give something to younger generations that had not been available to him. At the time, I remember thinking that this man is who we should be celebrating as a hero, not athletes and celebrities. That’s similar to what you’re saying about Monroe, I believe. Let’s celebrate substance, not veneer.

  4. Coco, excellent post! I love how you’ve strongly expressed your opinion and backed up your arguments so passionately. In my opinion, Marilyn became such an icon because she became part of our cultural identity. Be it her beauty, her alleged affair with JFK, or the tragic and mysterious way in which she died, these added to the world’s fascination with a woman who reinvented herself. That said, I think the unanswered questions, the intrigue, the mystery, all serve to keep her memory alive. She exuded sexuality, and womanhood, and didn’t apologize for it. I feel that women, while they may reject what she represents, admire her beauty and her style. Men, on the other hand, are blown away by her sexy nature and looks. Personally, I think she was gorgeous. Do I think some people are immortalized and shouldn’t be? Yes, but I believe that whenever people feel there’s a “cover up,” conspiracy theories rise to the surface and take over. Remember Lady Di? Something like that.

    1. Hi Bella,

      Thanks for the compliment! I had no idea when I wrote it that it would push people’s buttons so lol.

      I take nothing away from Marilyn’s beauty and sexuality. I adore Sharon Stone for that very reason, unapologetic feminity and sexuality in your face indeed. But I appreciate and dig her talent just as much. Feel me?

      I grew up watching Marilyn and was as star struck as the majority. My fascination waned as I got older and applied other measures of “beauty” to her. It’s similar to my feeling about Beyonce. When I first saw her, I thought she was GORGEOUS. Now that she is constantly in our face, I am less impressed. Worse than that, I think her musicianship is completely drowned out by the vacuous songs that she is putting out there. Over-commercialism? Shallowness? Making every dime you can while you can? Pick one.

      Your comment about conspiracy theories is very astute. I wed that with D.A’s comment about her youthful image as a result of dying young and it answers 75% of my puzzlement.

      If I had a daughter I would not wish her to idolize someone like Marilyn and I would point out to her all the reasons that she should find a better woman to emulate…

  5. Her death has a lot to do with the lingering fascination. Elizabeth Taylor was a much bigger star overall and just as much a sex symbol, but as she aged, her status as a sex symbol waned because we saw her grow old and lose the sex appeal. Monroe never aged. She’s forever young and beautiful, so her status never eroded.

    We all know talent has nothing to do with success in pop culture. It’s all about right place, right time, right shtick.

    1. Ola Alex,

      That is an explanation that I actually did not consider. It’s weird how fascinated we are with the dead, or those who die an inopportune death. The whole mystery thing is kind of wearying in my opnion, it’s been almost 50 years for crying out loud. Ah well, sex sells and we will never get past that.

      You know I adored Elizabeth :). She was, in my eyes, a timeless star.

      In any case, I am not a pop culture fan because of all the crap it produces so you’re right on point.

  6. Hey Sparks,

    I undertsand your point better as well. Interestingly enough, you touched on an idea for one of my future posts. I still don’t care for the choices she made but you gave me alot of food for thought.

    Your point about help for depression back then is well taken. Just think how long they have been pushing pills at us to solve our problems and creating addicts and maladaptive adults in the process…disgusting. Pet Peeve #999.

    Great discussion!

  7. Glad I didn’t offend!

    I don’t think Monroe was allowed to break any rules on film, much less those of female sexual repression. I agree with you that when she’s paraded out these days, in a media setting with profit as the motive, the underlying message about women and sexuality is distressingly behind the times. Few are thinking about Marilyn Monroe as a person when they do that, and I agree that’s insulting — to us and to her memory. I think that’s what you were getting at with this article, and I hope I’m understanding your point better now.

    I think the reason I and others, who are more interested in her life than in the art she was allowed to produce, are interested in her is because of the repression she suffered at the hands of our male centric society. She may have been somewhat rich and made a lot of bad decisions (some that I believe were depression and drug induced — I don’t believe she brought shame on Jackie Kennedy, John F. Kennedy disrespected Jackie Kennedy, a lot), but I believe Marilyn would have identified with, and greatly valued your last two posts.

    “Her legacy doesn’t seem to reflect that in the eyes of the populace …” This actually explains my interest in her and anyone like her. I’ve been upset for years now about the way society hates, trivializes or refuses to see so many of us for various reasons. We are either too poor to count, too dark to matter, too psychologically challenged to be of use, too female to be important, or we have “sinned” openly instead of hiding it the way “they” do. I’m just tired of so many of us being deemed unworthy of empathy, when I believe that the understanding, not agreeing with everything others have done but understanding what they’ve done, is the thing that would save us as a species.

    I’m trying to say, hate on the jerks who trot her out without understanding who she was and how she came to be; but can we do it without doing the same thing society did to her while she was alive?

    I think it would have been hard for her to inspire, motivate or enlighten anyone with that dark cloud hanging over her head. Depression can be a difficult thing these days. Imagine the ineffective help she got for it in the fifties.

  8. I have to agree with you Coco Rivers…don’t quite get the Marilyn thing. She had the curves…she puffed and flaunted, and men drooled…and damn-a-nation did they drool!. Jackie had a great persona and style, but it obviously didn’t compare to Marilyn. It just seems like since Marilyn fell out of her top and busted out of her 24″ waist and 36″ thighs, women have had to live up to those bad acting moments and ridiculous sexual overtures. Mae West at least had some humorous lines. One of my favorites was…”I wasn’t always rich…there was a time I didn’t know where my next husband was coming from.” Coco Rivers, thanks so much for stopping by my post. I truly appreciate it. I’ll be back to read more of yours!

  9. Coco, I was thinking, ‘I don’t completely agree with you, but more power to you for some arguments that I understand.’ But when you threw in Snooky (who should be humbled that she isn’t living on fast food wages — yet), I got warm under the collar! 🙂

    To be honest, there’s a lot of stuff in my background that people have been very vocal in pointing out as things that make me unworthy of everything I aspire to. It’s actually hard to do better when your upbringing left out a lot of the things you needed to know to make better decisions. This may be one reason I “get’ Marilyn Monroe.

    I like to look at Monroe and watch some of her performances, but what I admire is her acceptance that she had a lot to learn about many subjects, and her inclination to seek out the education she wanted and the therapy needed to help keep her demons at bay, once she was able to do so. It’s not her fault that ’50s psychiatry tossed pills her way and probably wasn’t up to snuff concerning women’s issues. I know a lot of people were suffering more and I’m interested in those stories, but she also has a story that interests me — of a mentally ill single parent, childhood abuse, constrictive and abusive marriages, and a Hollywood that wouldn’t let her blossom. Throw in the fact that she achieved mainsteam (sometimes A-movie) fame in the ’50s despite a penchant for being photographed naked (which was her right!) and I understand the fascination, if not the icon status. I’m fascinated by the dichotomy of the successful, yet still oppressed, rulebreaker.

    If Snooki starts talking about the serious steps she’s taking to become a smarter member of society (and some profession) and she can prove it, it would be time to actually look at her and listen to her explanation for what came before. (Rant over. Whew!)

    1. Hi Sparks,

      Rant received lol :). This is good. Inciting controversies and sparking strong responses is the linchpin of good discussions.

      That said, I understand your viewpoint but don’t agree. I love people who triumph over their beginnings and elevate themselves but to what degree? Her legacy doesn’t seem to reflect that in the eyes of the populace, at any rate. I did some brief research on her before I wrote this but remain unimpressed.

      In my opinion, the media’s continued insistence at parading her before us is a statement about what’s considered ideal in women and that underlying message is what rankles me the most.

      Naked people are wonderful lol. I just dont see who she inspired, motivated or enlightened by her life or career. True, she was impactful at the time but as to if her influence was positive is debatable. What about the shame she brought on Jackie Kennedy? That aggravates me to no end. Then again, they wonderfully illustrate the constricted female archetypes – the whore and the good wife.

      Do you feel that she broke the rules of female sexual repression in film? I will have to ponder that…. As for Snooky we are in perfect agreement. 🙂 Thanks for the in-depth and thought provoking comment.

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