Marilyn Monroe fascinated me as much as anyone else, I suppose. As an American, she’s one of our iconic own, but she belonged to none of us. I’m not sure she even belonged to herself. I’ve read, or heard, so much about her from the time I was a child. Ms. Monroe was a few years older than my father, who thought she was amazing – as I’m sure many men of his generation did. I don’t remember hearing praise about her from my mother.
I didn’t like Ms. Monroe when I was young, or as I grew up. She seemed like a poseur to me, even when I was no more than seven or eight. Maybe that was because I knew my father liked her, or idolized her, when he was so horrible to my mother, but I might have been savvy enough to see through the façade of Norma Jean Mortenson without extra help.
Even into my twenties I had a disdainful-yet-envious fascination of her, and continued to judge her foibles harshly. It wasn’t until the last decade or so that I began to have more compassion for Ms. Monroe and what it must have been like to live a life like hers – chosen or not. I think the fame that Ms. Monroe sought and achieved wasn’t what she had expected. How could it have been? How can any of us know what it’s like being somewhere other than where we are? I doubt that she would have planned for how her life unfolded, or that she conceived of being overwhelmed by her fame. Even if she had thought of the potential consequences of fame, imagination rarely duplicates reality.
I remember reading that it took Ms. Mortenson four hours to ‘become Marilyn Monroe’. It’s surprising how much I soaked up about a woman I claimed to not have much interest in. Her mystique lives on today – although probably quite diminished from what it had been in her heyday.
An interview with some expert on Marilyn Monroe and her life was on NPR this morning, and the man went on about how smart she actually was, even though she typically ‘played dumb’, and what great comic timing she had – and some of my old envy came back as I listened and found myself deriding that guy’s assessment because, clearly, being male automatically exempts him from speaking neutrally about Marilyn Monroe.
Marilyn Monroe belongs to the realm of Hollywood mythology now, her off-screen self forever marred because of her onscreen legend (deserved and accurate – or not).
© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Life On Earth’s Blog, 2010 – infinity.