Joyce Carol Oates praised the film adaptation of her novel Blonde but conceded that the controversial movie about Marilyn Monroe is “not for everyone.”
Oates made the observation on Twitter, after being asked for a review of the film by a user of the social media platform.
“I think it was/is a brilliant work of cinematic art obviously not for everyone,” Oates wrote. “Surprising that in a post#MeToo era the stark exposure of sexual predation in Hollywood has been interpreted as ‘exploitation.’ surely Andrew Dominik meant to tell Norma Jeane’s story sincerely.”
I think it was/is a brilliant work of cinematic art obviously not for everyone. surprising that in a post#MeToo era the stark exposure of sexual predation in Hollywood has been interpreted as "exploitation." surely Andrew Dominik meant to tell Norma Jeane's story sincerely. https://t.co/YCehGfskds— Joyce Carol Oates (@JoyceCarolOates) September 30, 2022
Oates’ 2000 novel is a fictionalized version of Monroe’s life and career. A critic for Kirkus panned the book as “bloated” and “humorless,” and a “contemptible insult” to Monroe’s memory. “Oates should be ashamed of herself,” the reviewer wrote.
The adaptation, directed by Dominik and starring Ana de Armas as Monroe, has sharply divided critics and viewers. Manohla Dargis of the New York Times slammed the movie, calling it “necrophiliac entertainment,” while Paul Byrnes of the Sydney Morning Herald praised it as a “towering achievement.” Kirkus’ David Rapp, who wrote about the film for his Book to Screen column, called it “appalling stuff, whose style and tone, at its worst, suggest an unholy cross between Hollywood Babylon and a snuff film.”
Oates addressed the furor over her novel and its adaptation in another tweet, writing, “so relatively few people read or even know of a ‘literary’ novel, it is rare for one to draw much outrage; but a Netflix film like ‘Blonde’ attracts a much wider audience with different expectations.”
Michael Schaub, a journalist and regular contributor to NPR, lives near Austin, Texas.