Dominik, who wrote and directed Netflix’s controversial NC-17-rated portrait of Monroe, previously admitted to not being familiar with Monroe’s filmography prior to adapting Joyce Carol Oates’ novel on the late icon. Now, in a new interview with BFI’s Sight and Sound Magazine, Dominik said that Monroe starred in “a whole lot of movies that nobody really watches, right?”
Journalist Christina Newland, who was conducting the interview with Dominik, tweeted an “outtake” from her transcript with the “Assassination of Jesse James” director.
“Does anyone watch Marilyn Monroe movies?,” Dominik said, before going on to slam “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes” as a movie about “well-dressed whores.” See below.
“I do want to make sure I’m doing my due diligence here,” Newland added on Twitter. “He did talk about & reference many of her films. He clearly had studied and watched everything: whether he liked it (bar ‘Some Like it Hot,’ which he loves) another story, evidently.”
In the printed interview, Dominik also calls Monroe’s famed “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend” moment in “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes” akin to “sisterly advice” to loose women. “‘If you’re gonna fuck, make sure you get paid,'” Dominik mused on the message. “Or is it just romanticized whoredom?”
Monroe starred as a showgirl, opposite Jane Russell, who travels to Paris to rack up suitors abroad. While the film ends in a double wedding and two happily ever afters, that wasn’t the case offscreen: Monroe infamously made only $500 for the role, compared to Russell’s $200,000 contract. But “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes” was critically acclaimed and has been ever since: in part for the no-nonsense attitude toward work and sex that subverted Monroe’s persona as a victim of the male gaze onscreen. That is, until “Blonde,” it seems.
Dominik later addressed Monroe’s lasting iconography, saying, “Well, she was a strange sex symbol because she doesn’t have to die at the end [of her films] like a Barbara Stanwyck or a Rita Hayworth. But she had to be a little baby…I think Marilyn was a guy’s girl. I don’t think she was a woman who had a lot of female friends. But then I think she was a woman who didn’t have a lot of friends. There is a sense that we want to reinvent her according to today’s political concerns. But she was a person who was extraordinarily self-destructive.”
Dominik added, “I think she was clearly an extraordinarily powerful person. But I don’t think she was built for success in the way that people see it today. So with everyone there are moments of strength, and people want to say that she took control of her life. But she wanted to destroy her life. So I think the film is about the meaning of Marilyn Monroe. Or a meaning. She was symbolic of something. She was the Aphrodite of the 20th century, the American goddess of love. And she killed herself. So what does that mean?”
Calling on Lacanian and Freudian surreal portrayals of psychology, Dominik additionally shut down criticisms over the intense portrayals of multiple abortions and sexual assaults. “I’m not concerned with being tasteful,” Dominik said.
“Blonde” is currently in theaters and will premiere on Netflix on Wednesday, September 28.
& here, I'm afraid, is an outtake. pic.twitter.com/1WxLzIKZh6
— Christina Newland (@christinalefou) September 27, 2022