Marilyn Monroe is a name that most of us are familiar with, she is known as a Hollywood siren, an actress, a sometime singer and a member of Hollywood’s elite. With the rise of vintage culture and forties fashion, images of Marilyn are circulating more prevalently on the internet, and it’s perhaps no coincidence that a new film about her is being released this week. My Week with Marilyn is indeed based on a true story, yet it’s still impossible to see exactly the extent of truth any stories of Marilyn contain. Perhaps the one most basic truth to Marilyn Monroe is that she is still an enigma, the instantly recognisable face, the style emulated in decades of fashion magazines and the story remembered in the media as an example of the American dream.
Sure, the times have moved with Marilyn and the interest in her has only grown, but did Marilyn belong to Hollywood or did Hollywood belong to her? The strange circumstances of her death cannot be ignored, there is as much of a mystery surrounding her death as there was her life. When Marilyn was found dead the rumour-mill went into overdrive and many facts have become blurry over the years.
What cannot be proven cannot be disproven and so witnesses who originally shunned the idea that the Kennedy’s were involved gradually started revoking their statements, stating Robert Kennedy was the last person who visited her, during which time they had an argument. People suggested there were bruises on her body, a clear sign of violence, others said the last person she called was the President and that her last words were “Say goodbye to the President”. The sheer amount of conflicting “evidence” given about her death consists with people’s conflicting views of her in life, many of her friends had their own agendas and she ended up as incredibly lonely in death as she was in life, with no close family to organise her funeral, and no amount of star-studded guests could have concealed the world from the tragedy.
In all of Marilyn’s fame and fortune many people forget about Norma Jeane, the side of Marilyn that was more covered-up than any of the events that conspiracy theorists attempt to expose. Perhaps she got tired of the façade, of feeling used and mistreated by people who pretended to be close to her to gain their own attention rather than work so hard for it, as she did. She once pleaded “I don’t mind making jokes, but I don’t want to look like one” and sometimes it seems that she has unfortunately become one, people are desperate still to cling to the fame she exudes, to confuse and mystify the events surrounding her death and less desperate to honour how she was in life, overcoming her terrible childhood and lack of confidence to become one of the most memorable stars of the twentieth century.
Her brilliance of mind exudes the “bimbo” exterior she played up to, she has acquired fans beyond her generation, her pictures are still admired and actresses ultimately long to be like her, in a world where Hollywood’s stars were never scandalised and criticised but romanticised and idolised. Despite the fact that she is viewed as little more than an enigma, she has an ultimately ubiquitous presence that allows generations to believe that they too can create brilliance from bad fortune. Yet even amidst all of the loneliness, secrets and betrayal, she paid the ultimate price to achieve her one true dream, not to be forgotten.