I become melancholy when I think of Marilyn Monroe. And this feeling is only overshadowed by a solemn respect for her. Her life was wrought with trials that led to her mental and physical deterioration, and though it doesn’t excuse or diminish her faulty life choices (such as having elicit affairs during her own,or others, marriages) you can have some deference when looking at her life.
Most people know that Marilyn’s past was less than up lifting. Assault, neglect and mental and physical abuse were all components to her life as Norma Jean, and though her scaring past shaped her they can’t be all you see. I am by no means a rabid fan whose dedicated endless nights watching her films, collecting memorabilia and idolizing her, I am however impartially involved enough to see her as I think she was. Some say she was beautifully broken, but what I see is a beautiful woman who happened to be broken.
Indeed I think she is beautiful. I’m not referring to the stylized sex kitten that was Marilyn Monroe, but the beautiful intelligent woman that is Norma Jean.
The whole thing that started my interest in Norma Jean was a collection of photographs I found of her that were so contrast to the image I was used to,that I actually wanted to know more about this other woman. In the photographs I saw a real woman who smiled without squinting and pushing her chest out, I saw an authenticity that I hadn’t seen and I almost became happy. I was happy to see a side of her that was more that pretty fluff. Another fact that amused me was that in most of the candid shots she was reading. Interviews with co-stars and directors all stated that Marilyn was a hard worker, not only on her films but on trying to separate herself from the stereotype so often cast to her. The very image that made her famous in the beginning was the image that she tried in the later part of her career to break.
People often underestimated her as we underestimate her now. And I was one of them. Marilyn left her past to rid herself of her demons but only ended up creating more, that were either self inflicted or externally subjugated. In photos you see one of two faces: Marilyn, the sexualized vixen who was superficial or Norma Jean, who was broken, yes, but was working to be more than her past and an intellectual, poetic soul that challenged her alter ego. I feel that Marilyn was created in a struggle for dominance over her mental demons, her desperation for acceptance and caused her to be used by others. In the end she was left even more broken than when she began. I may not like Marilyn but I feel I would have like Norma Jean.
“She was a whirling light to me then, all paradox and enticing mystery, street-tough one moment, then lifted by a lyrical and poetic sensitivity that few retain past early adolescence.”