Blonde’s anti-choice narrative makes an already problematic movie even worse

Editor’s Note: The following contains spoilers for the Netflix movie Blonde.


long-awaited Netflix Blond took the world by storm, but for all the wrong reasons. Realized by Andre Dominique and based on Joyce Carol Oates‘s novel of the same name, the highly fictionalized Marilyn Monroe biopic starring Ana de Armas was widely seen by critics as a cruel exploitation that humiliates and reduces the iconic star to a helpless victim. Blond depicts the life of Marilyn Monroe – the world’s most famous woman to be sexualized and abused under the male gaze – and spends nearly three excruciating hours objectifying her under the male gaze once again. It is painfully clear that Blond is a film made without any understanding or sensitivity to the female experience.

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An appalling position on abortion

It should therefore come as no surprise that Blond absolutely wrong about abortion. In response to the film’s portrayal of Monroe’s pregnancies and two subsequent abortions (both forced against her will), Planned Parenthood recently released a statement to The Hollywood Reporter criticize Blond for his use of anti-choice propaganda:

“While abortion is safe and essential health care, anti-abortion zealots have long contributed to the stigma of abortion by using medically inaccurate portrayals of fetuses and pregnancy. Andrew Dominik’s new film , Blonde, reinforces their message with a CGI speaking fetus, depicted to look like a fully formed baby.”

Caren Spruch, national director of arts and entertainment engagement at the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, said The Hollywood Reporter,

“Planned Parenthood respects artistic license and freedom. However, false images only reinforce misinformation and perpetuate stigma around sexual and reproductive health care. Every pregnancy outcome, especially abortion, should be described with sensitivity, authenticity and accuracy in the media. We still have a lot of work to do to ensure that everyone who has an abortion can see themselves on screen. It’s a shame that the creators of Blonde have chosen to contribute to anti-abortion propaganda and stigmatizing people’s healthcare decisions instead.

It is a longstanding practice in anti-choice rhetoric to use images of fully formed fetuses, promoting a medically inaccurate depiction of fetuses as a form of emotional manipulation. In Blondthere are several scenes where the fetus of Marilyn’s unborn baby is shown – early in the pregnancy – as fully formed, first when she becomes pregnant after a threesome with Charlie Chaplin Jr. (xavier samuel) and Eddie G. Robinson Jr. (Evan Williams), then later when she is pregnant with her third husband, Arthur Miller (Adrian Brody) (although he is not named in the film), and finally, after she is raped by the President (Caspar Phillipson) (as yet unnamed, but very clearly JFK).

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During her first pregnancy, Marilyn, who was pressured to have an abortion because of her role in Men prefer blondes, has a somewhat off-putting conversation with his mother. She tells her mother how brave she was to keep her when she didn’t have a man to help her, saying, “Another girl would have… well, you know, would have rid… of me. “I’m not here at all. But you were brave. You did the right thing. You had your baby. You had me.”

As Marilyn speaks, we see flashbacks to her mother’s childhood abuse, which suggests the film may want us to wonder if her mother’s decision to keep her was truly “brave” or the ” good thing”, as Marilyn says. However, coupled with the strongly anti-choice propaganda throughout the film (particularly the talking fetus), Marilyn’s conversation with her mother gives us a taste of an unpleasant introduction to the film’s use of anti-choice clichés. choices, such as the binary split of having a child be seen as “the right thing” or the “brave thing”, implying, of course, that abortion is the wrong or cowardly choice.

Turn abortion into a horror movie

This program is further reinforced by the way the film depicts abortion with sensational and bloody violence. When Marilyn knocks on the driver’s window and says she has changed her mind about abortion, then begs the doctors to “please listen, I have changed my mind”, nobody listen. It’s as if she wasn’t even present. It’s an austere scene as Monroe lies on the operating table, and we see the doctor performing the procedure through the vantage point of Monroe’s cervix. She hallucinates that she jumps off the table and runs through her childhood home, which is engulfed in flames. There’s a crying baby in a drawer – a gruesome portrait that suggests Marilyn’s baby is literally burning. The terrifying scene, from when Monroe gets into the car and begins to beg her driver to turn around, reinforces the anti-choice message that abortion is a cruel and violent procedure. The scene relies on a dangerous and factually incorrect trope meant to scare and shame pregnant women by perpetuating misinformation about reproductive health care and portraying abortion providers as monstrous, inhuman doctors who will tie up a patient without sound. consent.

We’ll see it later in the film’s conclusion when Monroe is pregnant after JFK’s horrible scene. The film suggests that the President’s team kidnap her in the middle of the night and force her to have an abortion. This second procedure is, in a way, even more nightmarish than the first. Marilyn, convinced that this is a terrible dream, lets out a disconcerting laugh, while a gang of stone-faced men watch her on the operating table. When she later wakes up in her own bed, her abdomen, as well as the white sheets beneath her, are soaked in blood. Of course, it doesn’t take a reproductive health expert to realize that there would never be so much blood – this is clearly another shameful and disgusting attempt to shock the public under the guise of “freedom”. artistic”.

This finally brings us to the already infamous conversation Monroe has with her unborn baby during her pregnancy with Arthur Miller. Despite the fact that Marilyn’s stomach is most of the time completely flat, suggesting that she is quite early in her pregnancy and therefore would absolutely not have a fully formed fetus inside her , a computer-generated image of the fetus is shown again, just like with her first pregnancy. The fetus begs her, “You won’t hurt me this time, will you? Don’t do what you did last time?” Marilyn replies: “You are no longer the same baby. You are that baby.” The fetus responds, oddly, “It was me. It always was me.”

Exploitation of female suffering

Of course, aside from the fact that it makes absolutely no sense, the conversation reinforces Marilyn’s shame and, in turn, perpetuates the stigma that abortion is a shameful procedure. The film once again pushes Monroe into the background and exploits her as less of a person, and more of a phenomenon to be acted upon, even by her own unborn child. The scene leaves you with a particularly bad taste in your mouth and an uncomfortable feeling in your gut, especially after watching Marilyn lose the baby after tripping on the beach, again implying that Marilyn is responsible for the loss of her child. .

One of the major problems with Blond What has been amply and emphatically argued by critics is that it exploits female suffering through the prism of an outrageously daring male gaze. The scenes where Marilyn is seen talking to her unborn fetus, or lying on the operating table not once but twice as she undergoes two forced abortions, are further proof that Blond is written from a male perspective with a disturbing lack of insight into the female experience. Asked about the film’s anti-choice agenda, the film’s writer and director, Andrew Dominik, dismissed the idea that the scene was anti-abortion. He said in a statement to The Wrap: “It’s just people looking at the film through the lens of their own particular biases or whatever agenda they want to push forward. I don’t think that has anything to do with it. to say about Roe vs. WadeHe added, “I mean, nobody would have cared if I had done the movie in 2008, and probably nobody will care four years from now. And the film will not have changed. That’s just what’s happening.”

One could argue that by rejecting the reversal of Roe vs. Wade as an “agenda” or “sort of happening” is an example of why, perhaps, Blond suffers from a painful lack of awareness or recognition of the female perspective.

The one thing the world no longer needs is another movie that exploits and sensationalizes the traumatic events in the life of Marilyn Monroe. No matter which way you turn it, Blond projects a strong, anti-choice narrative under the guise of “art.” The line between artistic freedom and exploitation is thin, and it’s time we called it that.

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