Objectification of Women…

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  • #111901
    DeeAnn Hopings
    Ambassador

    Artist J. Seward Johnson II created a larger than life statue of Marilyn Monroe, called Forever Marilyn. It is a steel and aluminum structure that is 26 feet tall and weighs 17 tons. It is based on an iconic scene from the 1955 movie, The Seven Year Itch with Tom Ewell.

    From the movie:

    The statue was first unveiled in Chicago in 2011. It spent 2012 to 2014 in Palm Springs, CA at a temporary downtown location. We vacationed in Palm Springs in January of 2014 and personally, I was impressed by the magnitude of the statue and how it captured the movie scene on such a grand scale. All I remember hearing was how pleased folks were in having the stature and that they would be sad to see it go.

    For the record, Marilyn was originally “discovered” on a visit to the Racquet Club Resort in Palm Springs in 1949. Later on, as she became famous, she vacationed in Palm Springs.

    Many of the hotels and resorts in Palm Springs belong to a trade organization called PS Resorts. This being a tourist town, the organization seized on an opportunity to purchase the statue for what has been reported to be $1,000,000.

    However, it has been a bumpy road. Protesters claim that the statue is “sexist, exploitative and misogynistic”. So, the question is, what do folks here think? I’ll offer my opinions a bit later.

    This is Forever Marilyn just before the dedication event at her permanent location in Palm Springs, June 20, 2021:

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    • #112194
      DeeAnn Hopings
      AMBASSADOR

      Personally, the statute isn’t a problem for me. One of the things that art pieces are supposed to do is create a reaction. In this case, that has definitely happened; positively and negatively.

      Anyway, to me there are some flaws regarding the protesters:

      • If folks are having a reaction to the statue now, why didn’t they voice their opinion from 2012 to 2014 when it was here before? If they say that they didn’t think it was coming back, then they weren’t paying attention as there was considerable positive sentiment then. I have asked people who were living here when the statue was on loan if was a protest then. Everyone I asked said no.
      • Someone who responded to my comment on a Facebook page about the protest said that it blocks the view of the Art Museum. That is not true as the street where Forever Marilyn is placed is lined on both sides with Palm Trees. All you can really see are the steps to the entrance. I took the photo of the installation and that is what you see in the distance. You really can’t see anything to the left or right.
      • On another Facebook page I suggested that going after the statue as a protest against objectification is like trying to heal a sick tree by cutting a branch off. It would make more sense to protest the original movie. I was told that you can see her underwear with the statue, but you can’t in the movie. It doesn’t seem to me that there is a connection between objectification and panties.

      Anyway, there is a law suit pending regarding procedural issues by the Palm Springs City Council. We’ll see…

    • #111982

      Okay for Norma Jean Baker, forgive me I can not remember the name of the documentary it was a long time ago back when AMC was still hosted by a Clooney but it was a documentary on costume designers such as Edith Head, William Travilla, and many others.  And with Travilla of course the white dress was brought up. In the course of talking about her (Marilyn Monroe), they talked about many designers hated to fit her since she would suck in everything she could so the finished product would be tighter than they intended. I feel like she would be delighted at the statue.

    • #111981
      Michelle Larsen
      MANAGING AMBASSADOR

      DeeAnn, from a historical perspective, I have no problem with it. It is, she is, the scene is, a piece of history. Where exactly do we draw the line with destroying that are historical? If people never put them up n the first place, then there is nothing historical. But once they are up, that implies enough people believed in the historical significance of the person, place, or thing, to remember it for the future. Remember the words of George Santayana, “Progress, far from consisting in change, depends on retentiveness. When change is absolute there remains no being to improve and no direction is set for possible improvement: and when experience is not retained, as among savages, infancy is perpetual. Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” The past, good or bad, reminds of of what we did. If we decide later it was good, then that is a reminder to continue. If we later decide later it was bad, then we have a reminder to never do it again.

      The horrors of the death camps from WW2 were… Sorry, words escape me…. But we did not bulldoze what was left of the camps into the ground. They stand as a reminder that we must not forget, and never allow that to happen again.

      The Library of Congress stands as a reminder of the wonderful knowledge humanity has been given by great men and women. That is a reminder of the good, and something we can be reminded of.

      No, good or bad, history must not be covered up, or put under a cover in some dark abandoned warehouse to be forgotten. History is to be learned from, embraced, and experienced for both the good, and the bad it affords us. If the history is too real for some, then you have the freedom to not gaze upon it. No one has forced you to gaze upon it.

      But how can you ever be a champion for good, if you do not also know and understand the bad from the past? Michelle

      • #112103

        Hi!

        I am not sure that the Marilyn statue is something bad from the past. Right now there is a mass movement of tearing down statues and in some cases, where they are symbols of oppression and occupation (i.e. the Soviet ‘finger’ near me which I would dearly love to blow up), needs to be put in context and I certainly have no evidence that Marilyn felt objectified by her iconic photograph. I can see an argument for removing or replacing statues of slave traders etc. Equally to air-brush out history leads us to some difficult paths.

        I see the Marilyn statue in a totally different context and a celebration of femininity, rather than anything sinister.

        These couple of days I have my hands full with a lot of admin. and dare say I will return to this subject later.

        A xx

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