Like lots of people, I’ve always been fond of Marilyn. She was an interesting and courageous person. I liked her apparent seriousness. And the cut of her ideological jib.  She was one of the few people who stood against McCarthyism. Yet I always harboured the view that this was just a kind of trick. That somehow I’d been suckered by her female charms – the carefully honed innocence awaiting the male fantasy of protection.

It’s very easy to be seduced by image. I think of another great icon of her era (or rather slightly afterward), Cassius Clay/Muhammed Ali. He was basically a bit of a nutter, and horrible to Joe Frazier who’d helped him through his darkest hour.  But I still wanted him to win.

Anyway, I heard this lecture on the ABC RN program Big Ideas (which is a really great program methinks, largely because it’s not a program, but an empty box into which the producers often put great stuff from around the world. It’s about Marilyn and it’s a knockout. Taken seriously by a pretty serious person who, though I suspect she’s also been seduced by the image, nevertheless shows us what a remarkable person Marilyn was.

You can stream the video from ABC Big Ideas here or go to the LRB site where you can do the same or read the lecture.  Highly recommended.

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paul walter
paul walter
11 years ago

Abused when young, apparently a high IQ, and a brilliant ally for Arthur Miller. Her death made it easy for those wanting to discredit her to bury her under a mound of propaganda. Nicholas shows compassion in including the thread, the revision is long overdue.
Someone else the system chewed up, in her case from a very early age, then callously spat out.

11 years ago

Sher knew what she was doing, she just couldn’t control it – and the costumes are ooh la la la!
No mystery, but that is what this article is STILL trading on.
Sure she was lost, but lots are, that are less able, less beautiful and less talented. Why is it a ‘mystery’ when a beautiful and talented person is out of control of themselves? And why is it a mess when someone less beautiful and talented is out of control?
Do the beautiful and talented owe something?

11 years ago

… am referring to the Jacqueline Rose essay when I say ‘article’. An interesting stroll through an era – but little more – having a big heart and fair intentions is to her credit, but the real advertisement was the package. Your first instincts are right Nic – she is silver screen excitement, but perhaps little more as Arthur Miller did attest and as this article bears out.