Clip Job: an excerpt every day from the Voice archives.
August 16, 1962, Vol. VII, No. 43
For Marilyn Monroe
By Charles Marowitz
No sooner had she been draped away than the press vultures descended. How ghastly and despicable was their thoroughness! To papers like the Daily News and the Mirror, her death was merely the hottest angle they had ever gotten from her. The Post (why do we think of this foul tabloid as being in a special category?) laid it on for the greater glory of circulation, keeping it headlined for three days running and encouraging its crassest hacks (Skolsky, Lyons, and Wilson) to squeeze the story dry. Max Lerner, dribbling lay-analyses and that wholer-than-thou attitude which makes him of all the hacks the most repulsive, once again demonstrated the stilted little one-step of his mind. Even our own Jerry Tallmer was culpable, manufacturing angles and irrelevancies, commingling snide film criticism and in memoria.
The patronizing psychological analysis was favored by most. Little girl lost, friendless, alone. Poor kid, she should have been better adjusted, should have been able to kick the drugs. All this from hacks, punks, and disguised psychotics who have neither the stamina for life nor the courage for death. Let us eulogize her. Let us spin hot copy and nod our moral nods.
The real history of Marilyn can never be written by the pressboys who get their education from handouts and their morality from gossip columns.
They are too hung up on their own fantasies. Sidetracked in her teens, vulgarized in her twenties, a crassly vaunted glamor-puss and popular masturbatory image, she had something in her nature which retained a purity circumstances could not tarnish. This is what made her special.
In her early life she was persuaded that Hollywood success was a kind of meaning in life. When she achieved it, she found how cockeyed her dream had been. Not being able to dignify the movies, she attempted to dignify herself by plying acting as an art. That she failed at this in no way detracts from the admirable instinct that led her to try.
As she herself said, her greatest fear was losing her uniqueness, becoming a “thing”. Early in her career she had become a “thing” for press agents, film producers, and studio directors — all those men to whom tangibility is the measure of truth. Methodically they nibbled her innards, dividing their percentages and ignoring the person behind the “thing”. She sought in marriage what she had lost in herself, and naturally she couldn’t find it. DiMaggio was probably her most natural ally: both could share the loneliness of each other’s myth. Miller could have saved her if he hadn’t been so corrupted with perception. It was a mismatch from the first. She brought animal grace, and he only mundane consciousness. Confused, gullible, at once too young and too old in her spirit and in her nature, she was too good for him.
…I am too angry to mourn, for her death was neither suicide nor accident, but a premeditated act of spoilage. She was a woman deified and then dispossessed, forced to mingle with grubby heathens entirely unsuited to cope with gentility: Miranda at the mercy of an island full of Calibans. She was part of that world as its captive, not as its accomplice. How can we mourn the woman when the papers and television and all the other orifices of communication continually remind us of the forces that killed her…
[Each weekday morning, we post an excerpt from another issue of the Voice, going in order from our oldest archives. Visit our Clip Job archive page to see excerpts back to 1956.]