Killing Marilyn Monroe – One Bad Wig at a Time: Whether you “love” “hate” or are “indifferent” to Marilyn Monroe ( you might be meh) please consider the overt travesties lately committed in fashion, photography and film, as well as the stunningly bad attempts to sexify flat-assed and dull-witted “starlets” of today in the broad’s name. For the choir, you can nod along, sharing the pain of a fandom that persists despite the lazy media productions that kill the poor woman over and over again – a persistent cultural migraine throbbing since Michelle Williams made her gambit for that role that is best left to the small screen, the unknown, or someone who bears some physical resemblance beyond “female” and “white”. For the haters and the “meh” among you, I will keep it brief and pictorial.
The over-baked cliché of putting a bad white wig on a modern girl and attempting to instill nostalgia for our granddaddies’ golden age is probably a feature of the constant recycling of culture, as well as a disturbing lack of imagination among editors and photographers. Marilyn still sells, especially the cartoon version who is apparently lobotomized. Everyone from Mariah Carey (who owns Monroe’s most valuable and coolest personal item, her white piano, and named her daughter Monroe) to Megan Fox, who, until she recently began laser treatments, flaunted a vile Marilyn tattoo down her forearm, that, while it looks like Kate Moss as Beyonce, yet sparkles with more life than its host), to the dreadful, hopelessly freckled everywhere ginge Lindsay Lohan, whose New York Magazine photo shoot one hoped would be the death knell, the final nail in the coffin, to speak in the cliches the project deserves.
In case it’s not clear where the author’s feelings lie on the matter, it must be said: your beloved It girl, sort-of widow, decent pixie cut wearer, and decent actress Michelle Williams should never have touched “My Week With Marilyn”. While technically perfectly rendered as a window to on-set dynamics (yawn) of a movie no one saw (The Prince and the Showgirl which is actually quite good), the film’s true story-ness deserves a bigger side-eye than The Amityville Horror: it’s little more than a yarn, the earliest known published work of bad fan fiction. 50 Shades of a British lad’s spank bank. On top of that, Michelle Williams looks about as much like Marilyn Monroe as your foot.
In some unofficial research (attempting to engage a few people in a chat about how their foot in a white wig, a beauty mark, dark glasses, and a trench coat would have been entirely as passable as Williams as Monroe) it became clear why the film was made, did alright (“meh”/Weinsteins), and why Williams strutted the awards circuit like the next queen, the poor dear deluded into thinking she ought to be given all the prizes for this role. The target audience for this film is precisely the people who don’t give a shit about Marilyn Monroe any more than they do Meryl Streep’s Margaret Thatcher- both bio pics of the season were accepted wholesale based on marketability of the lead actresses, and the general public’s indifference about history/ willingness to accept history if entertainingly told through popular film. A lot of actresses turned down this part, and most of the actual praise in print or fan comments seems to hang on Williams’ bravery to tackle an iconic part based on, a woman who, if nothing else, enjoyed a very active love affair with the still camera: Monroe seems to live on in more, and more widely seen, photographs and posters than all of her 50’s counterparts combined.
Arguably, the only acceptable Marilyn film drag performances exist in two T.V. movies- though admittedly this statement relies on memory and scarce YouTube clips. “Norma Jeane and Marilyn” offered an original, fresh point of view featuring Ashley Judd as Norma Jeane and Mira Sorvino as Marilyn, (two big film stars of the 90’s who were bigger than Michelle Williams in their day). “Blonde”, from 2001, (based on the classic book by Joyce Carol Oates, a work of fiction that stands as a definitive text, better researched and more thoughtful than scores of biographies) starred then unknown Poppy Montgomery who was perfectly cast, disappearing into the part and bringing a difficult image to uncanny life. These small screen productions, with much less pressure than film, were each successful, attentive and respectful for their subject matter. In the 90’s and early 2000’s, fortunately the Marilyn bit was not yet done to death. Now it’s all ruined. It’s Santa Claus- we can only look to see how creepy the latest version is, how much they fail to convince. And these pretenders, the costumers at least, know this. They get the clothes so right that the mind here and there is tricked, for mere seconds.
Recently, all attempts to watch “Smash”, the 2011-12 TV show about the creation of a Broadway musical about Marilyn, resulted in shudders, imaginary pearl clutching and petticoat gathering, a fainting couch, and stiff drinks that soured in the belly. Audiences here were treated to at last count, three Marilyns on offer, all of whom sucked hardcore and the latest of which, Uma Thurman, looked and sounded like a very skinny, nervous college freshman in drag on a dare.
Was it a nightmare or was even Joe DiMaggio’s corpse made to roll over during that last number? The olive branch of “look at that brave girl, trying. Look at that former A-list beauty, completely failing” fell from my hand. We (royal we) shan’t watch again.
As Dlisted says, most half-assed college girl’s Halloween costumes look more like Marilyn than the new crop of famous poseurs with a crew of stylists and photoshop at the ready. It might all be a joke that stylists play on the newer crop of Hollywood bitches, no more committed to a concept than when we used to dress up and humiliate our childhood cats. Only not as charming. It’s a hard look to wear, that amazing late 1950’s bleach and set. Marilyn had a masterful, lifelong make up artist who knew all the old lighting tricks and she looked good in a severe type of look, with her soft, fine boned face. The makeup ends up far too heavy in modern resolution. But there is really no excuse for the wigs, the scent of desperation, the misappropriation.
Pick your poison:
Digital collage by life-long collage obsessive Jacqueline Howell: pics- clockwise from top left: Marilyn Monroe, Michelle Williams, Nicole Kidman (one of the most awkward photographs I have ever seen), Lindsay a.k.a. kitty wig, Lady Gaga in a Happy Birthday to Marilyn twitpic, Lohan in her bare bum, Megan Fox’s tattoo (that looks like Kate Moss as Beyonce), Naomi Watts, dishearteningly announced in a remake of Blonde, Monroe, Lohan, and side by side Monroe with scarf, Monroe famous bed sitting and Angelina Jolie threatening all and sundry with a good time, Christina Aguilera selling perfume.