Blonde author Joyce Carol Oates, defends the film adaptation of her novel, which stars Ana de Armas as Marilyn Monroe, amid its controversy.
The author of the novel that Blonde is based on, Joyce Carol Oates, defends the film adaptation. The Netflix film, released this past September, stars Ana de Armas as Marilyn Monroe. An iconic figure in pop culture, Monroe was a classic Hollywood star whose tragically short life has inspired many film and television projects since her death in 1962. Directed by Andrew Dominik, Blonde has been a subject of much interest for those fascinated by the troubled starlet, though the film can’t be classified a biopic since it doesn’t necessarily adapt Monroe’s life.
Instead, Blonde takes inspiration from the 2000 Joyce Carol Oates novel of the same name, blending fact with fiction in a dreamy portrait of Monroe’s turbulent emotional state. Following Monroe – born Norma Jeane Baker – through a few important moments in her life, Blonde has been blasted by reviewers for creating a one-dimensional and exploitative picture of Monroe. In particular, the film has been criticized for forcing Monroe into constant and brutal victimization, creating an empty and dehumanizing tribute to a woman who was much more than her traumatic relationships with men. However, the critics maintain de Armas’ performance as a revelation and a highlight of the divisive film.
As the film makes its Netflix premiere, Blond author Joyce Carol Oates has spoken out about it on Twitter after a user requested her review. The author stood by the film and, by extension, her more nuanced source material, saying that Blonde is “a brilliant work of cinematic art,” while also bluntly defending it against its controversies. See the acclaimed author’s full tweet above:
How Blonde Fictionalizes Aspects Of Monroe’s Life
More interested in exploring the idea of Monroe rather than the historical facts of her life, Blonde sets out to create an experience designed to achieve an emotional reaction from the viewer. Though it’s up for debate how successful the film’s attempt was to do so, Oates points out in her post that Blonde does expose the predatory culture present in Hollywood, which the #MeToo movement proved has changed little in the modern era. Though Blonde takes liberties by including scenes which can’t be verified as fact, such as the starlet’s sexual assault by President John F. Kennedy in the film, they serve to tell a larger story about Monroe’s dissociation from her identity and exploitation at the hands of powerful men. The most controversial scene in Blonde is the abortion scene, for which there is also no historical evidence, despite her pregnancy and miscarriage depicted in the film being accurate.
Though it’s not always handled with nuance, the uncomfortable way that Blonde makes audiences feel is intentional, eschewing historical accuracy at times to lean into the emotional truths Monroe had to deal with during her lifetime. Oates has made her appreciation for the film adaptation known, despite some critics describing it as a simplistic and hollow retelling of the novel. It remains to be seen how Oates’ opinion will affect how those new to the film perceive Blonde, which has certainly succeeded in making headlines since its premiere.
Source: Joyce Carol Oates/Twitter