- At 52, Madonna has lived well beyond the age of her personal idol (you can’t kill her with a stick). Her obsession with Marilyn Monroe began at the beginning of her career. She first
demonstrated it when she blonded her hair for a video entitled “Like a Virgin” (itself a controversial video), her video for Material Girl, her many publicity photograph shoots where
she “makes like Marilyn” with beautiful silvery-blonde hair,Who’s That Girl, where she even sports a beauty mark near her mouth, Dick Tracey, and her controversial book simply entitled “Sex”. Madonna dated John F. Kennedy Jr,. as a publicity stunt to parallel Marilyn’s involvement with his father. At the 1991 Academy Awards Madonna appeared wearing a gorgeous dress inspired by the “happy birthday” dress Marilyn wore to sing to JFK.For the evening’s performance of “Sooner or Later,” the singer ripped off from Marilyn’s routine in the 1960 flick Let’s Make Love. Her video for Erotica where (my hat’s off to her for this one) she walks around completely nude. However it’s the hair and facial expressions that suggest Marilyn. Madonna had another chance to display her goddess-like body and her Marilyn makeup in her atrocious film Body of Evidence. And of all the women who have emulated Marilyn Monroe during their careers, no one has done so as long as Madonna and with her level of success.
- Of course trust Madonna to contradict her own purpose. During an interview a Cosmopolitan reporter asked her why she emulated Marilyn Monroe and Madonna became irate. “Marilyn Monroe was a victim. I’m not a victim!” The reporter mentioned her Material Girl video? I don’t recall the answer but it was considerably muffled. Some say Madonna channeled not just Marilyn but Andy Warhol for the cover of her CD Greatest Hits collection. Certainly you can see Marilyn in the hair and facial expression. The Andy Warhol is in the colour scheme. Even the New York Times got in on the act and reiterated a comment that Marilyn was an “absolutely sincere, first-rate comedienne,” Madonna is an utterly disingenuous, untalented pretender. Frankly I agree with the New York Times. I recognize the mimicry and I fail to see how Madonna could possibly place herself in the same league as the actress once dubbed “the most beautiful woman in the world.” Although I like her music and I believe that today Madonna is the prettiest she’s ever been, I’m definitely not a fan of the woman herself.
- On Cynthia McFadden’s interview for Nightline, McFadden asked Madonna if her “influence” was outright copying of other artists. Madonna replied “it feels reductive.” McFadden asked her, “is that good?” to which Madonna, resorting to her nasty usual self replied “look it up.” The audience responded with a gasp. Madonna certainly has a way around answering questions she doesn’t want to answer.
It’s amazing how the music icon has managed to build a career around Marilyn’s image, which begs the question: what would she be without Marilyn? She’s definitely not a fan’s best friend.In that regard at least, Marilyn and Madonna differ vastly. That and in sex appeal. Madonna simply could not compete with Marilyn’s translucent beauty (who can?). And Madonna doesn’t play the titillating balancing act on the edge of impropriety that worked for Marilyn. Madonna is just crude and rude. It was big news when Marilyn’s dress went over her head and everyone saw her panties and gorgeous legs. Madonna probably tried to bring that sexy shock into the 1990’s by taking illicit sex appeal a giant step further: she opened her legs in her videos, pretended to masturbate onstage, made outrageous statements on television talk shows, and posed for billboards advertising her own line of shoes with her legs open. Gross. I honestly do not know even one man who finds her to be sexy. Not one. Women like her. Whatever. The thing is, Marilyn gave everyone just a taste of her sexuality. Her jokes with the press were subtle and charming. Madonna bombarded people with her brashness. Her continued defense for her behaviour to pit her sex (I mean gender) against men in the entertainment industry are inane. Some of her defenses have been “people are just jealous” (you’re kidding) or “would you like it better if I were a man?” Thing is, I’m not aware of male performers who jerk off onstage in order to sell concert tickets.
Madonna looks better now than she ever has in her career. She is a gorgeous woman who no longer emulates Marilyn Monroe quite as obviously, and she looks much better for it. Her look channels Monroe but doesn’t covet it. And now it works. During the days she did mimic Marilyn she couldn’t measure up. She made herself and Marilyn into a parody rather than a tribute. I’m especially thinking of the bushy, black eyebrows with that white hair. Ugh.Madonna is also genius in the way she has managed her career. She emulates other celebrities but rather than completely copying their style, she immerses herself into that pop star’s culture. Consider her foray onto the stage to smack lips with Christina Aguilera and Britney Spears. Now she channels Lady Gaga to remain “hip” with the young in-crowd. Madonna re-invents herself but not as an original anymore. instead, rather than competing with the younger generation she adopts it. She is a woman who is half a century old (and in some ways, she does look it no matter sexy she is), and allows herself to become the temporary “other half” of a pop newcomer.Madonna claims she helped Gaga to write “Born This Way”. Let’s see now….Madonna, we know raison d’etre reputation and Gaga, we don’t know what the hell she is, together writing a song about being born as whatever they are today. That must be what happened to them. How else do you explain these two?
Madonna has tread into the realm of the cougar lately. She acts unknowing of course “I didn’t write on a list that I’ll start dating younger men” she tells Cynthia McFadden, Nightline co-anchor. In this regard she is again the complete opposite of Marilyn who only dated men older than her for two reasons: she dated men who were established in their respective careers and had something to offer her. Marilyn was also seeking that father figure in her lovers and husbands, whom she often called “daddy” or “papa”.Marilyn even used that expression about both her fiancee and her future father-in-law in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. In regard to her children, Madonna’s explanation for her vulgar behaviour is “your mother is an artist. I’ve lived my life pushing the envelope and I’m not going to suddenly stop doing that because I have children.” Well one thing I’ll say for Madonna is that her life has continued to be what she feels it should be and that is not solely one thing. She is a performer, a mother, an author, an actress (although a very poor one).Like Marilyn she is a multidimensional person.
Gaga appeared in the video, but Madonna’s voice was clearly in the background (that’s a switch). However during her concert, Madonna mixed Express Yourself with Born This Way without telling Gaga, and Gaga was shocked and pleased yet annoyed (is that even possible?). Madonna went so far as to make a video with Spears: Me Against the Music. Even the video title states “featuring Madonna” (of course). It’s a good song and a great video, as a matter of fact. Madonna hasn’t lost her edge but lest anyone thinks so about the aging pop star, she keeps herself young by consorting with fresh talent. Somehow when Madonna appeared on the Spears and Gaga scene, her temporary presence was big news.This time, however, Madonna took her partnership too far for Lady Gaga’s liking: I truthfully believe that was nothing about those records sounding alike, and everything about this gay icon versus gay icon [is] nonsense. I don’t need to take anybody’s torch. I have no interest in taking anybody’s torch. I am over here and they are over there…. this need for competition was everything that ‘Born This Way’ isn’t about!” Leave it to Madonna to befriend a major celebrity then stab her in the back for publicity’s sake. Oops she did it again.
Marilyn was also a very shrewd business woman, very in touch with her public image. She was concerned about how she was perceived. A lot of people think Marilyn really was the dumb blonde and pin-up that she portrayed. She was actually very smart and shrewd. She was careful about the decisions and choices she made when it came to what films she would be in, and even in statements she made in public. She chose her words very carefully, especially when commenting on Arthur Miller’s investigation by the House Committee on Un-American Activities, something many people had advised her to distance herself from. However Marilyn knew her presence would be highly publicized and whether the House wanted to acknowledge it or not, her popularity with the public meant the House would probably step very carefully with Mr. Miller. Marilyn’s career and life wasn’t born out of luck. She set goals and she met them. Her desire to become a serious actress set into motion a huge change in her life that was very risky at the box office. She formed her own company, Marilyn Monroe Productions, to release her first dramatic film, Bus Stop. Marilyn worked hard at the Actors Studio in order to develop the skills she believed she needed to fill the role of Cherise. Her careful studies and her devotion to playing a dramatic role paid off: the movie was a hit. Finally Marilyn earned the recognition she had been seeking.
Unlike Madonna however, Marilyn never back-stabbed a fellow actor to get what she wanted. She used her own connections, planning and talent to direct her career. She worked hard at her craft. Marilyn made a connection with Milton Greene, a photographer who was interested in producing a series of shoots of Marilyn with many demure shots that showed her wearing modest, pretty clothing. Marilyn took a brave departure from Hollywood to New York in order to study with the Strasbergs. This was a risky decision and could possibly have ruined her career with Fox. It took great courage for her to make the move. In fact, Jayne Mansfield was groomed to replace her and became known as “the working man’s Monroe”. Marilyn scarcely took notice. She knew there was only one Marilyn Monroe.
Marilyn was also competitive but not as a singer. She competed for years with Elizabeth Taylor for the status of sexiest Hollywood bombshell. Everything written and said about Marilyn must be taken with a grain of salt since she is not here to defend herself or to confirm whether she actually made such statements. However certain stories circulate so often about Marilyn that there must be some truth to some of them. She wanted to act the kind of roles that Taylor was given, not to mention earn an income that was much closer to Taylor’s. Marilyn once stated “I don’t want to be rich. I want to be wonderful.” I believe that statement. What she wanted was in terms of the gross disparity between her income and Taylor’s and she wanted the studio to acknowledge that she was an equally important star. Taylor wasn’t Marilyn’s friend either. The skirt scene in the Seven Year Itch incensed her (wouldn’t it have been worse if her then-husband Richard Burton mentioned in an off-handed way that Marilyn had great legs?) Marilyn went so far as to state, “Let’s knock Elizabeth Taylor off the [magazine] covers!” She intended to do so by posing nearly nude during the filming of Something’s Got to Give and made the candid and rather disappointed comment herself. “I have to resort to sex to do it don’t I?”
According to Lawrence Schiller (a photographer), in his memoir Marilyn and Me, he writes the glamour girl said: “Larry, if I do come out of the pool with nothing on, I want your guarantee that when your pictures appear on the covers of magazines Elizabeth Taylor is not anywhere in the same issue.” Whether Marilyn made the statement out of professional jealousy or a person vendetta is anyone’s guess.However Marilyn did use the nudity as a means of letting Hollywood know she was their “most bankable star.” Schiller seemed to see it as professional jealousy but that might not have been Marilyn’s meaning. Of course Schiller professes to have met with Marilyn on the last day of her life. nonsense. His opinion on her death is “I don’t believe there was a conspiracy to kill Marilyn Monroe. But I can’t prove a negative.” During her conversations with Schiller, between 1960 and 1962, when she died aged 36, she told him: “There isn’t anybody that looks like me without clothes on”. I can’t argue with that although Madonna might.