“Blonde” Backlash: A Dark Portrayal of Marilyn Monroe

“Blonde,” the latest Marilyn Monroe movie, hit Netflix this fall and is receiving backlash over how the Hollywood icon is portrayed on screen. The criticism is not directed at actress Ana de Armas who plays Monroe, but instead at an embellished direction of an already fictional story written by Joyce Carol Oates.1 However, the film did accurately include Monroe’s ongoing struggle with mental health issues and substance addiction.

A Fictionalized Marilyn Monroe

Blonde’s director Andrew Dominik took fiction even further in the film. Many parts of the new movie are not at all based on truth, including many of the graphic 18+ scenes depicting rape and abuse. The movie’s fixation with showing sexual assault left many viewers uneasy and confused as to why those scenes were added to Marilyn’s story.1

The film even went as far as to include scenes of Marilyn getting abortions and implicated sexual assault by John F. Kennedy without any record or claims of truthfulness. However, there were aspects of the film that are based on truth. For example, Marilyn was placed in foster care after her mother had a mental breakdown and she did have a brief public affair with former president JFK.1

So why add in many disturbing scenes that are not at all true? The New York Times columnist Manohla Dargis concludes that “Dominik ends up reducing Marilyn to the very image — the goddess, the sexpot, the pinup, the commodity — that he also seems to be trying to critique.” And in doing so, she is “nothing more than a victim” on screen.2 A victim of sexual violence, a victim of gender inequality, and a victim of addiction.

Monroe’s Struggle with Addiction and Mental Health

The film accurately includes how Marilyn Monroe dies from a prescription drug overdose in 1962 in her Hollywood home.  Whether her death was a suicide or an accident is commonly disputed. Monroe had been consuming and misusing drugs and alcohol for many months before her untimely death at the age of 36. Found next to her at the time of her death was a “virtual pharmacopeia of sedatives, soporifics, tranquilizers, opiates, “speed pills,” and sleeping pills.” An empty vial of Nembutal (a sedative) was found on her nightstand.3 She also often combined various pills with alcohol. Her substance misuse, physical ailments, and co-occurring mental health issues led to the deterioration of her marriage to playwright Arthur Miller and her being fired from the film she was working on. 3

Monroe’s story is one of fame, addiction, and tragedy. Although more publicized than most, her death is one of many caused by a drug overdose. More than 104,000 people in the United States alone have died from a drug overdose death in the 12-month period, ending in September 2022.4 Drug-related deaths due to the nationwide opioid epidemic continues to take lives.

However, even in the darkest of times, hope isn’t lost. If you or someone you love is misusing drugs or alcohol, there are treatment options available for help. With the proper treatment, people can live long and healthy sober lives. If you are struggling with addiction and looking for rehab in Los Angeles, help is available. To learn more about how to start treatment, or how to help a loved one, reach out to Laguna’s admissions navigators available 24/7 at .

Was this page helpful?
Thank you for your feedback.

American Addiction Centers (AAC) is committed to delivering original, truthful, accurate, unbiased, and medically current information. We strive to create content that is clear, concise, and easy to understand.

Read our full editorial policy

While we are unable to respond to your feedback directly, we'll use this information to improve our online help.

The Best Place to Recover in Orange County
We are here to help you get sober and learn how to stay that way. Laguna Treatment Center is located in Orange County within easy reach of the entire Los Angeles metro. We are the premier chemical dependency recovery hospital in the OC. We offer safe medical detox, mental health support, and wellness programs.