During an appearance at the Red Sea International Film Festival in Saudi Arabia, Dominik proclaimed that American audiences “hated the movie,” which starred Ana de Armas as the iconic movie star. The Australian director claimed this was because the public strictly wanted to see Monroe appear “empowered” on screen.
“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,” Dominik said of the beloved movie star, according to The Hollywood Reporter. “And if you’re not showing them that, it upsets them.”
Dominik went on to say that those who criticized the film, based on Joyce Carol Oates’s 2000 novel of the same name, must have felt it exploited their memories of the actress, who died of a drug overdose at age 36 in 1962.
“Which is kind of strange, because she’s dead. The movie doesn’t make any difference in one way or another,” Dominik said. “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.”
Despite the negative feedback, Dominik clarified that he was actually “really pleased” the film had “outraged so many people,” because he considers it the responsibility of the artist to evoke passionate responses from their work. He chalked that up to coming of age in the 1980s, when to “offend your audience was a solemn duty, to wrench them out of a complacency about things.”
Dominik, who claimed “tens of millions of people” watched the film on Netflix, concluded by stating that he believes American film is getting “more conservative.” He compared the current state of cinema to bedtime stories, explaining that people want a story with a predictable ending.
“I don’t want to make bedtime stories,” he concluded.
Blonde has drummed up significant controversy over its NC-17 rating and its handling of rape, abortion and miscarriage. Back in October, model and author Emily Ratajkowski called out the film in a TikTok post, saying it was responsible for “fetishizing female pain,” Yahoo Entertainment previously reported.
“So I’ve been hearing a lot about this Marilyn Monroe movie, Blonde, which I haven’t seen yet, but I’m not surprised to hear it’s yet another movie fetishizing female pain, even in death,” Ratajkowski explained to the camera. “We love to fetishize female pain. Look at Amy Winehouse. Look at Britney Spears. Look at the way we obsess over [Princess] Diana’s death. Look at the way we obsess over dead girls and serial killers. Watch any CSI episode, and it’s this crazy fetishization of female pain and death.”