The Death of Marilyn Monroe

Emma O'Hearn

Background information

On August 5,1962, Marilyn Monroe, one of the most famous movie actresses of her time, was found dead in her home in Los Angeles California. She was found lying face down in her bed holding a telephone in one hand and multiple empty pill bottles (prescribed to treat her depression) scattered on her night stand. The LAPD declared her death was "caused by an administered overdose of sedative drugs and the mode of death was probable suicide."

Perspective #1

Marilyn was one of the most beloved and famous people in all of Hollywood during the 1950's. This made her death one of the biggest headlines in the media. When they announced her death on news channels and in the news paper, it wasn't much different than the way they announce the death of someone famous today. They talked about the highlights and achievements of her career and the love her fans had for her. They also mentioned things like her marriages and things they knew about her personal life. Generally they stuck to reporting it the way the Los Angeles police department declared it, as an overdose or self administered suicide. Although, because of that, people became very curious and confused about how troubled she may have really been and what caused her to do it. She always came off as a very happy person, she seemed to have the glamorous life that everyone wanted.
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Perspective #2 (Conspiracy Theories)

Another way her death has been portrayed in the media, not only then but now, is through conspiracy theories. These aren't necessarily things the media reported at the time, but are things people have come up with over the years. Because she was such a beloved and seemingly happy go lucky kind of person, her fans and people who have studied her case have decided many alternative theories. Some of these theories, more outrages than others, were about the way they think she really died. A lot of the theories say that she was murdered. People argue that the way she was positioned was too staged. There are also reports that they didn't find any trace of the pills she claimed to have overdosed on in her system. Some of these theories include; She was murdered by communist, she was killed by the FBI or CIA, was victim of a mafia hit, or killed by RFK, and so on. Although these may sound outrageous, I think they are just ways for people to hold on to the memories of how she seemed to portray herself to the world, as if she was too happy of a person to have committed suicide.
The Death Of Marilyn Monroe - Conspiracy Theories. August 4th 1962

Media bias

Through out her whole life the media only really saw what Marilyn wanted them to see. She was very good at portraying herself as this "dumb blonde" with a very glamorous life that she seemed to enjoy. She was always seen with a huge smile on her face which has convinced, even people to this day that she was a very happy and content person. I think this is why the media and the people who report all the conspiracy theories of her death are so convinced that she couldn't have possibly killed herself.

Feminist Criticism

Because of the time period Marilyn lived and died in (1950's-60's), feminist criticism in seen everywhere in her life and death. She was considered to be a "dumb blonde" only known for her beauty and her glamorous lifestyle. She was not a very respected person, but more known as a sex symbol. Feminist criticism also played a big role in her death and the way people perceived her. Her death was ruled a suicide, this means she was a much more troubled and depressed person than people would have thought. Having people only see you from the outside and treat you like some object couldn't have been very fun for her. It seems to me like she was constantly putting on an act for the media. No one really knew her for her mind or her as a person, this could have played a big role in her death. Feminist criticism is also shown in the way people talked about her after her death. People couldn't believe she killed herself because she seemed to have everything; money, beauty and attention from almost any man. The reasons people gave for her so called "happiness" shows feminist criticism, as though that it all women needs to be happy.
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Cultural Criticism

Cultural Criticism ties into feminist criticism when it comes to Marilyn Monroe. In this time period objectifying and sexualizing women was more common and more highly accepted. I think if Marilyn Monroe had lived in this generation, her role would be more focused on women's body positivity and accepting yourself or being relatable to other women. Instead in the 1950s her only role , and something she went along with, was to be a person everyone wanted to be but couldn't. She was someone everyone strived to be, but no one could live up to the impossible expectations.