Why Netflix's 'Blonde' Is Receiving Backlash: Inside The Marilyn Monroe Discussion Online

3 October 2022, 18:46 | Updated: 6 October 2022, 11:05

Netflix's Blonde has sparked mass backlash since its release
Netflix's Blonde has sparked mass backlash since its release. Picture: Getty/Netflix

By Savannah Roberts

Netflix's Blonde backlash explained, from the negative reviews to the fictionalised scenes drawing criticism from viewers.

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Blonde has been a highly-awaited and hotly-discussed project from Netflix, and now that the Marylin Monroe drama has dropped on the platform, viewers have a lot to say about it...

The latest Netflix original film has been receiving an avalanche of criticism online since it began streaming on September 28, sparking a conversation surrounding the use of the icon's legacy.

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From Emily Ratajkowski's poignant review to the widespread fan backlash, here's why the Marylin Monroe movie has created so much discussion.

Ana de Armas reveals how she got into character as Marilyn Monroe

Ana De Armas portrays the titular Marilyn Monroe
Ana De Armas portrays the titular Marilyn Monroe. Picture: Netflix

Blonde is a fictionalised account of Marilyn Monroe's life

Some viewers have been confused as to whether the story depicted in Blonde is real or not – well, it's a bit of both.

Netflix describes the Ana De Armas-fronted film as a "fictional portrait of Marilyn Monroe", with the synopsis stating that the project "blurs the lines of fact and fiction".

Blonde is influenced by the book of the same name, a biographical work of fiction written by Joyce Carol Oates – leading to confusion over which moments were inspired by true events or not.

Director Andrew Dominik revealed in an interview with Deadline: "I’ve read all the biographies of all the other people that were in her life too so I’m aware of what they think happened in most of the situations in her life. And I’m aware of how that’s different to the book Blonde. I did all that research and I used very little of it in the movie. Blonde the book was pretty much the bible for the film."

Many fans have taken issue with how the film uses Marilyn's name and likeness to infer factually inaccurate or contrived events, with Dominik being transparent about using creative license with her story.

Blonde is based on a semi-fictionalised book of the same name
Blonde is based on a semi-fictionalised book of the same name. Picture: Netflix

Emily Ratajkowski claims Blonde 'fetishizes female pain'

Model Emily Ratajkowski took to TikTok to give her two cents on the Blonde controversy, stating that she's "so done" with the media's depiction of women's suffering.

The viral video – which has quickly racked up over 2 million views at the time of writing – condemns the movie and its use of Monroe's legacy.

Emily candidly said in the clip: "I'm not surprised to hear it's yet another movie fetishizing female pain, even in death. We do that in many, many different ways, but I want that to change."

She went on to compare the treatment of the Hollywood icon to that of Amy Winehouse and Britney Spears, both are women in the industry that have had unauthorised documentaries and projects released under their names.

"Look at Amy Winehouse, look at Britney Spears, look at the way we obsess over [Princess] Diana's death," she said, addressing the camera.

The 31-year-old also criticized how the film and TV industry objectifies victims of crime with documentaries and dramatised series, some fans even assumed she was referencing the new Netflix series, DAHMER – which has sparked its own separate controversy in recent days.

“I’m just gonna get angry,” she said when discussing whether she'll be watching the film.

The film's creative license with Monroe's story has caused discomfort among viewers
The film's creative license with Monroe's story has caused discomfort among viewers. Picture: Netflix
Fans have come to defend Marilyn's legacy
Fans have come to defend Marilyn's legacy. Picture: Getty

Viewers brand the Marilyn and JFK scene as 'horrifying'

One scene in particular that has been causing outrage online is a fictionalised moment between Marilyn and former president John F. Kennedy.

The questionable moment depicts Marilyn being taken to a room with an unnamed president (who is heavily assumed to be JFK), referencing the historic rumour that Marilyn and Kennedy had an affair in the early 1960s.

The disturbing scene then suggests sexual violence took place after she is brought to the room, and Ana de Armas narrates her internal monologue throughout.

The controversial scene caused an endless stream of condemning tweets and posts, with many branding the inclusion of the historically inaccurate moment as 'disrespectful', 'insane' and 'exploitative'.

Fans defend Marilyn Monroe's memory

As the discussion over the treatment of Marilyn Monroe in life and death continues to brew online, fans are stressing the unfairness of the situation.

Twitter has been brimming with tweets coming to the idol's defence, sparking a bigger conversation about the sexualisation and misogyny directed at women in film.

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