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The Independent UK
The Independent UK
Inga Parkel

Joyce Carol Oates says Marilyn Monroe went through ‘much worse’ than anything in Blonde

2022 Netflix

Joyce Carol Oates has reacted to Blonde’s NC-17 rating, saying that what Marilyn Monroe really went through is “much worse” than anything shown in the film.

The new Netflix psychological drama biopic starring Ana de Armas as the late Hollywood icon is based on Oates’ 2000 novel of the same name.

Since its theatrical release, it’s received mixed critical reviews, with The Independent’s Amanda Whiting arguing that “Blonde isn’t a movie about Marilyn Monroe’s exploitation, but a new low watermark in Hollywood’s treatment of her – a sex object reduced to a sex organ”.

However, it’s received a lot of attention for its rating for sexual content in the US, which means no one under the age of 17 can see it, and with which de Armas has strongly disagreed.

In a recent interview with The New Yorker, Oates said that while she didn’t “have any particular feelings” towards the rating, she clarified that “the real things that happened to Marilyn Monroe are much worse than anything in the movie”.

“The bombshell movie star has long been established as a tragic figure, a woman who was abused by Hollywood studios, her husband Joe DiMaggio and, as a child, her unwell mother,” writes Whiting, adding that “rather than challenge the conventional narrative,” director Andrew Dominik “takes it somewhere even darker and even more invasive”.

Speaking about the subject matter, Oates explained: “It’s not a feel-good movie. Many films about Marilyn Monroe are kind of upbeat and have a lot of music and singing. She’s very beautiful and sweet. This one is probably closer to what she actually experienced. The last few days of her life were brutal.

Ana de Armas in ‘Blonde’ (Netflix)

The 84-year-old author further lauded Dominik’s film as a “work of art”, saying: “I think Andrew’s vision is parallel with my own, or identical to my own. But he also made a movie that’s unique.”

Blonde premieres on Netflix on 28 September.

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