Andrew Dominik’s film Blonde, a story of Marilyn Monroe’s life based on an adaptation of a Joyce Carol Oates novel, has been the subject of much divisive discourse on both sides of the Atlantic. Caren Spruch of Planned Parenthood told the Hollywood Reporter that she sees the film as ‘anti-abortion propaganda’. A tweet that went viral said filmmaker ‘Andrew Dominik didn’t even try to conceal his anti-choice views and hatred for Marilyn’.
While the divisiveness of the film comes from the depiction of Marilyn as being either coerced or actively forced into having abortions against her will, the film’s critique is deeper than a simple pro-choice or pro-life argument. Dominik depicts a woman whose body is stuck in constant maidenhood, exploited by Hollywood and lustful men at her expense. Marilyn is a woman perpetually seeking to be the Madonna, and kept against her will as the whore.
In a scene set towards the beginning of her film career, Marilyn becomes pregnant after affairs with two men, one of whom is Charlie Chaplin’s son, just as she is set to star in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. Considering her pregnancy vis-a-vis her role, she speaks with her agent and asks what she will make as the title character. Her agent responds that she will earn scale: about $5,000 for the picture. She then asks what Jane Russell, her co-star, would earn: her agent reluctantly reveals that she will probably make $100,000.
Marilyn decides to go through with the film and calls her agent to arrange an abortion. She is shown to have a change of heart in the hospital room, but the doctors proceed despite her last-minute protests.