Blonde’s Director Explains Why The Ana De Armas Movie Got So Much Backlash

Ana de Armas as Marilyn Monroe wearing pink dress in Blonde
(Image credit: Netflix)

Blonde is an example of a movie that was controversial from the start of its promotion. To the surprise of the film’s director Andrew Dominik, Blonde was rated NC-17 which was the first for a streaming service to release. After the loosely-based biopic was released, it received a lot of backlash with Andrew Dominik explaining why that’s so.

What also didn't come as a surprise to the Australian director was that people would find something in Blonde to be offended by. According to People, Dominik spoke at the Red Sea International Film Festival in Saudi Arabia that he was actually “really pleased” that the fictional biopic “outraged so many people."

Now we’re living in a time where it’s important to present women as empowered, and they want to reinvent Marilyn Monroe as an empowered woman. That’s what they want to see. And if you’re not showing them that, it upsets them.

Andrew Dominik’s statements are a mixed bag to me. It’s absolutely true that when it comes to making a movie about a real person, you need to be respectful of what they were really about. If someone led a hard life, you can’t sugarcoat their experiences for the audience if that’s not what really happened. With Marilyn Monroe’s life being cut short after a barbiturate overdose, a lot of stories focus on the depression she went through in the public eye. Back then, it was hard for women to have a say in Hollywood. As people start movements like the #MeToo movement today, women have the freedom to be more empowered today without worrying about it affecting their careers in Hollywood. 

Even though the Killing Them Softly director wasn’t shocked by the backlash, he still spoke about how strange it was for him to learn people were so offended by the movie.

Which is kind of strange, because she’s dead. The movie doesn’t make any difference in one way or another. What they really mean is that the film exploited their memory of her, their image of her, which is fair enough. But that’s the whole idea of the movie. It’s trying to take the iconography of her life and put it into service of something else, it’s trying to take things that you’re familiar with, and turning the meaning inside out. But that’s what they don’t want to see.

On the other hand, it makes sense why it was hard for audiences to watch. It shows that viewers want to see empowered women on-screen instead of seeing them as victims. Believe me, I take it as a compliment that people want to see that compared to the latter. Twitter users shared brutal tweets saying that Blonde did a terrible job honoring Marilyn Monroe’s memory calling it “sexist” and that they’re not telling her real story. Even more backlash occurred based on one scene audiences felt went too far when John F. Kennedy forces the Blonde Bombshell to perform oral sex on him while he was on the phone. Plenty said it felt like “a sick horror movie” and even turned off the movie after that scene. It’s probably scenes like that which caused Blonde to be kicked off of Netflix’s Top 10 movies in just a week. To use a cliché here, it’s a matter of accepting that some movies are not every person’s cup of tea.

What audiences need to understand is that Blonde is to be seen more as a book adaptation of Joyce Carol Oates’ book who actually sent her praises towards the movie. Maybe the movie would have received less backlash if Marilyn Monroe’s autobiography My Story was the book that was adapted even if it was short. After all, the only story I believe should ever matter ought to come from the mouth of the person that was affected.

Andrew Dominik believed Blonde received backlash based on audiences appalled at watching the ongoing abuse of Marilyn Monroe. As hard as it may have been to watch, maybe it takes movies like these to raise awareness that all women need to be treated well and that people like the main character could still be suffering abuse in many different industries. Blonde is still available to watch on your Netflix subscription.

Carly Levy
Entertainment Writer

Just your average South Floridian cinephile who believes the pen is mightier than the sword.