The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This week, I tasked myself with watching the new Marilyn Monroe documentary on Netflix.
It featured journalist Anthony Summers as he shared “unheard tapes” from friends and other people who have interested themselves in the life and death of Marilyn Monroe. There were also tapes from the actress herself who guided the theme of the documentary with this quote:
The true things rarely get into circulation. It’s usually the false things. It’s hard to know where to start if you don’t start with the truth.
Without going into too much detail, the documentary dives into Marilyn’s mistreatment throughout life to figure out her passing at age 36.
Many dark topics like abuse, childhood trauma, the objectification of women, drug usage and Marilyn’s relationship with the Kennedy brothers were discussed as potential reasons for her state of mind at the time of her death.
This was contrasted by beautiful images of her, created by her friends and the family of her psychiatrist (whom she had a close relationship with) to portray her as a victim of Hollywood and the people around her.
By learning of her struggles and her character, it’s easy to understand why Marilyn Monroe is such an endearing figure in American society. But after viewing this special, I think it was unfair to focus on portraying her as a victim.
I wish the director, Emma Cooper, would’ve focused more on her career than her untimely demise. Marilyn Monroe, despite the frail woman the media broadcast her as was very intelligent and incredibly strong. Her focus on her career as an actress and ability to manipulate the exploitative industry at the time (and arguably even now) for her own success was impressive. Her dedication to her career should’ve outshone the struggles she was facing at the time. I don’t think Marilyn Monroe would want to be remembered for the very personal challenges she was having to face.
The intense media obsession with the personal lives of celebrities is unhealthy and not something that should “come with the job” of being famous. It distracts from important global issues and continues to harm the celebrities at the forefront of their career. Every person deserves the right to privacy and not every celebrity wants to be a lesson for those who follow them.
If you don’t know the story of Marilyn Monroe, I’d highly recommend watching this intimate documentary. If you have some knowledge about her career and the circumstances and conspiracies around her death, then I’d say to skip this one. The pacing of the documentary is slow, and although the old Hollywood voices on the tapes and black and white clips audibly and visibly transport you to the days of Marilyn Monroe, it can also lead to it becoming less engaging.