What is it about 2011-2012 that has Hollywood so obsessed with Marilyn Monroe? We’d like to meet Marilyn’s postmortem PR team, because they are killing it: In the past year or so, the tragic star has been portrayed by a bevy of women including Rihanna, Lindsay Lohan, Michelle Williams (who got an Oscar nomination out of it), Naomi Watts, and more.
And while one of the projects was a biopic, some of these women dressed up as her just for fun! Such is the case with child bride Courtney Stodden, who traded in her baffling paparazzi photos for a semi-professional shoot in which she channeled Marilyn.
There’s no word on if the shoot were for an actual publication, or just Courtney’s way of getting attention from the paps and the press. (It worked, obviously.) However, the 17-year-old has professed her love for Marilyn before; last year she visited Grauman’s Chinese Theatre to compare her handprints to Marilyn’s. (“A perfect fit,” she claimed.)
As you can see, Courtney’s added her own special touch to the photo shoot: Her Lucite stripper heels. Not to mention the stark difference between Marilyn’s famous and demure The Seven Year Itch pose and Courtney’s decision to flash her white undies at the photographer. This is the exact moment at which the Marilyn trend has been cheapened beyond repair.
Marilyn is more alluring than ever, with celebrities like LiLo and Megan Fox sporting her quotes and face as tattoos. (Though Megan’s finally decided to part with her Marilyn because of the “negative influence” the icon has.) And of course there’s Smash, NBC’s making-of-a-musical show which centers on the fictional Marilyn musical; if the show does well in the ratings, the creative team plans to move the show to Broadway for real. Two episodes in, and already we’ve witnessed Katharine McPhee and Megan Hilty dolled up in blond wigs and shimmying to songs about Marilyn’s love affair with Joe DiMaggio and her desperation to be a star.
But at least those are attempts to reimagine Marilyn’s life and the emotional troubles that signaled her turbulent career and early death. When that tribute devolves into a celebrity like LiLo dressing up like her in every single photo shoot because she doesn’t have any identity of her own, or the utterly bizarre Courtney trying to layer her stripper-chic look onto the icon, it reduces Marilyn to an object or trope, instead of celebrating her as a person.
So please, can celebrities stop dressing up like Marilyn Monroe and keep her separate from modern Hollywood?