Media Exploitation Always Sells


Courtesy of Netflix

The promo poster from Blonde, the Netflix film about Marilyn Munroe.

Hollywood is no stranger to memorializing icons in films and TV shows. Recently, however, fans have been upset with how these programs are turning out. This year alone we have seen biopics of famous stars like Elvis Presley, Marilyn Monroe, and Whitney Houston. With that, audiences have not been loving all of what we’ve seen so far. The Elvis biopic was received pretty well, and as for the Whitney Houston film, it is to be released at the end of 2022. Marilyn Monroe’s on the other hand, was received much, much worse than most.

Andrew Dominik, director of Blonde, the newest Marilyn Monroe film, explained that the film was less of a biography on Monroe’s life, but more of a film adaptation of the fictional novel of the same name. Still, audiences did not love the movie like people thought they would. The film premiered at the Venice Film Festival earlier this year and even received a 14-minute standing ovation. Once Netflix released it to home viewers, the movie immediately entered the Top 10 most popular Movies/TV Shows section on the streaming site. This achievement is great but does not necessarily count for how many people actually finished the movie. Many people have expressed that they hardly could get past an hour and a half due to how disturbing the film was.

The biopic, one that was described to be a love letter to Monroe, was described to oversexualize the star and even be used as propaganda for the director’s politics.

Another example of this occurs with the popular Netflix series, Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story. Dahmer, arguably one of the most famous serial killers, has received multiple documentaries and biopics in the past 10 years. It’s no secret that there is a fascination with true crime documentaries lately, and this series was thought to just be another installment in this genre. However, it soon became one of the most popular titles in Netflix’s catalog, and not always for the best reasons. Many found the series disturbing and painful to watch, similar to the Blonde film but for different reasons. People thought the series victimized the killer too much and gave him more unnecessary attention, once again. Famous people, be they icons or cruel, have been getting a lot of traction in Hollywood lately, and not always for the best reasons. Exploiting people for money in film has not been going over well with audiences, and for good reason. People have cited that Monroe expressed her disdain for biopics and more importantly, the distortion of one’s life that they can cause. 

It’s no secret that becoming famous requires you to sacrifice your personal life, however, it doesn’t necessarily give people the right to distort your life for money. Respectable icons like Marilyn Monroe who was, not only exploited during their lifetime but are still exploited now. Celebrities are still people who deserve honestly made biopics if they so choose.