Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Dirty Blondes: A Comparative Study

This is simply an observation, but I was just thinking about the different ways that women are viewed in our society.

For example, Marilyn Monroe and her public persona and legacy: People still love and adore her (or the image they have of her anyway.) She was America's sweetheart for a time. She evokes sexuality but also innocence. Fragility, insecurity, sweetness.

Now juxtapose: Courtney Love. Mostly people have strong feelings regarding her. They love her or hate her. No in-betweens. She is a loud, outspoken, brash feminist. Also she has talent, and that scares some people I guess.

I'm wondering why this is. I read a biography on Marilyn a few years back and here are some of the things I learned about her:
- She was married more than once, and was well-known to have affairs with married men.
- She had several abortions.
- She self-medicated.
- She had cosmetic surgeries to attain the look she had.

(Of course some of those things were only made public posthumously, but fans largely still keep that innocent-fragile-beauty idea of her untarnished.)

So why is it that Marilyn is idolized and Courtney is villified? Yes, Courtney admittedly had a drug problem. Tabloids sell the exploits of anyone Courtney is seen with, let alone dating. Courtney has also had cosmetic surgery. So those things they have in common. Courtney has the (totally false by the way!) evil-Yoko-stigma of breaking up the Fabulous Three- Nirvana, but is that worse really- even if she had, than a half dozen abortions and sleeping with the President?

My hypothesis is this: It really just comes down to the fact that Marilyn was a breathy, demure and mostly silent Fuckdoll. She never really had any strong opinions- not that the public ever knew of anyway. Her image was one-dimensional and invited depersonalization for sake of fame, at the expense of self. A beautiful woman who doesn't speak! Eureka!

Courtney does speak, loudly. She has opinions, political views, and is multifaceted.

This isn't pitting one woman against another. Just an observation that society- at least the society that the media panders to, is more eager to celebrate Woman As Mute Blow-Up Doll than they are Woman Who Speaks and Thinks For Herself.


Anonymous said...

cuz marilyn monroe pwned

an inspiration to playboy bunnies, actresses and singers. she was beautiful and has a most tragic ending.


*mary* said...

Yes, tragic indeed. I was just observing the contrast of their public images despite any similarities.
For me, inspiring a new generation of women (girls!) to disrobe for dirty old men is not necessarily a dazzling legacy.

Flocka said...

maybe you forgot marilyn was also one of the most skilled, celebrated and accomplished actresses of old hollywood and was also talented

*mary* said...

I am not overly impressed by her. Just my opinion. If the same skill set was implemented by her, only having kept her pre-plastic surgery looks, I doubt she'd be as celebrated. Sad fact of Hollywood. I am much more a fan of Marlene Dietrich, Bette Davis, Fay Wray, Loise Brooks and Gene Tierney. Some of those are before Monroe's time but I think they represent a much better class of actors.

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