It's a rarity in this world obsessed with pop culture, the internet, self-depreciation through perceived self-improvement and so on, that relics of the past become such strong focuses of the modern day. In the case of Hollywood Icon, Marilyn Monroe, there is rarely a day gone by where the mention of her name isn't thought, seen, or heard about while bustling through the many voices in a crowded mall.
The question we have to answer, the question on everyone's mind, is that why is this so? Why does Marilyn's presence still shake the foundations of the Hollywood industries with questions that can never be answered?
Pay close attention and I'll tell you why.
Forever Young: The Curse of False Immortality
Of the many gifts that Marilyn Monroe passed on to this world before her untimely death in 1962, the greatest was the gift of immortalized youth and untouched captivating beauty. Marilyn will never grow old, she'll never show a single wrinkle, her pictures will forever remain as flawless as everyone in her life needed her to be. The same need felt by people nowadays who can't find comfort in religion or the facts of life.
Marilyn Monroe - because of her current standing in pop culture - has become a curse. A fate she would have never wanted for herself.
This brings me into my next point...
Nothing is Sacred in the Age of Kardashians
I can't help but feel an immense amount of disrespect for whoever gave the go ahead for Marilyn's image to be used in such a wide vary of tasteless paraphernalia. There is literally nothing that someone hasn't attempted to slap an image of Marilyn on.
The worst being those tattooed ones. Her image is already being dragged through the mud, why are those necessary? They only add this vomit inducing sense of tackiness.
The Romanticization of Suicide
Marilyn Monroe came from a troubled home. All of what we know about her can at least put clarity on that. Her mother was a severely mentally ill woman who likely passed on a genetic case of depression onto her impressionable little Norma Jean.
There are plenty of people who focus on the mystery that surrounds Marilyn's tragic passing.
"It was the Kennedy family!" Some say.
"It was her therapist!" Others claim.
"My money is on Strasberg." I've heard shouted from time to time.
The truth is, whether some choose to believe it or not, is that Marilyn killed herself. My personal opinion is that she blundered through the night with a glass of whatever and a bottle of pentobarbital, speaking only to herself, seeking aid where none could be found. It's so easy to slip away when you think nobody can hear you cry out for help. Even though they are there, sometimes you can't believe there are voices waiting to reply.
In Marilyn's case, suicide and tragedy have been romanticized to the point of sheer glamor and opaque brilliance. It needs to end. Beauty rarely emerges from tragedy. Remember that.
SEX: Women Wanted To Be Her, Men Wanted To Do Her
Even for the most saintly of men, Marilyn was a lingering temptation. She was often paired with male co-stars far older than herself and with far less sex appeal. It drove the average Joe wild with notions that maybe even he could be a part of her world.
Other times, she'd be set to star alongside male co-stars far older than herself, often giving the impression she was nothing but a sex-pot with daddy issues.
For women, Marilyn represented everything they wished they could be or aspired to be. For some, she was nothing more than a dirty secret their husbands thought they didn't know about. In Marilyn's time, women had far less power in Hollywood than they do today. Celebrities like Meryl Streep, Jennifer Lawrence, and Patricia Arquette have often spoken of closing the gender gap in the industry, mostly referring to the erroneous pay differences between male and female co-stars.
Thank goodness they didn't have to work in Marilyn's time.
A Brilliant Mind
Few people know that Marilyn Monroe became so powerful in the industry that she was able to break free of her contract with 20th Century Fox and start her own production company, Marilyn Monroe Productions. This led to the development of a small film she did with Laurence Olivier called The Prince and The Showgirl. The rough story of behind the scenes for that film was later developed into its own film, My Week With Marilyn.
She had more to offer the world than looks. She was setting the stage for what women are able to do now: take charge. She knew looks could only get her so far, she taught herself how to be everything. Relentless hours spent on singing lessons, dancing lessons, exercise classes, acting classes, everything that she could do to broaden her horizons, she did.
In those days, 20th Century Fox had little left to offer besides the films of Marilyn Monroe. They needed her far more than she needed them and she proved it.
So, what did they do? They hired her back. And gave her a raise.
Refusal to Apologize
Everyone has hard times. Everyone. Before she became the legend, Marilyn was just another girl in the big city, chasing a dream. So, in one of her more dire situations, she took an offer to shoot some nude photos for a little money. Not thinking they would be an issue, she never brought them up again. And then one day, someone found them. She was told to denounce them and tell everyone it wasn't her.
The studio and her team were very upset about that.
Self-Definition: A Husband Is To Support, Not Hinder
Joe Dimaggio expected a life with Marilyn Monroe to be much like his own upbringing, his own Italian culture. They were to be married, she would take a graceful step out of the spotlight, have children, and retire to the quiet life.
Although Joe Dimaggio truly loved her, the conflict of what he wanted her to be, what she wanted to be, and what the world needed her to be could never peacefully coexist. A lesson Joe Dimaggio learned only too late.
In the case of Arthur Miller, love was absent. He needed her like a dealer needs an addict and she needed him like an addict needs a needle. For Arthur, a way to become something other than a one-hit wonder. For Marilyn, a distraction from the life she was constantly running from. She needed someone to watch over her, protect her. But Miller was not that man. His interests could ever be and were only ever: self-serving.
A Love Note? No, A Passive-Aggressive Message of Hate
1961's The Misfits was - in Arthur Miller's twisted lie to Marilyn Monroe - meant to be a love letter to Marilyn from Arthur. It was supposed to be a gift. At least, that's what Marilyn initially believed. Arthur Miller made many mistakes over his lifetime, but his biggest was underestimating the intelligence and wit of Marilyn Monroe. She caught on.
For heaven's sake, it was in the title.
In short without spoiling the film, Miller tried to slander his wife while holding firm onto the belief that he was the only person on the planet smart enough to get the hint.
Further problems on set - the director's gambling issue for one - only provided the studio with the ammunition they so desired to reign Marilyn Monroe in, without making complete jokes of themselves.
Work Is a Kind Of Love...
Marilyn's final film, 1962's Something's Got to Give, largely remained unfinished due to her untimely death later that year. There were many issues surrounding the development of this film as well. Instead of placing blame where it was due, the studio decided to put it all on Marilyn and then fire her for being reckless and endangering their film. To prop up their claim that Miss Monroe was singularly at fault for her termination, 20th Century Fox released a statement damning her in all aspects.
She decided to fire back. In a photo shoot, she showed the world just how well she was doing. Because they had been beaten by her once already, 20th Century wasn't about to face the consequences of another fallout with their biggest star so, they called her up and rehired her with a million dollar contract.
Finally, she was being taken seriously.
She was More Than a Legend: She was Everything
The death of Marilyn Monroe sent ripples of sadness across the entire planet. For the few still alive that knew her, not a day goes by where she doesn't come up in random thoughts. For the rest of us, we are only afforded the fantasy of what was and what could've been.
Rest In Peace, Miss Monroe.