Marilyn, the ‘Golden State Girl’

Duke Haney’s Death Valley Superstars: Occasionally Fatal Adventures in Filmland (available in paperback and via Kindle) is a collection of essays about Hollywood, including ‘Golden State Girl’, which muses on Marilyn’s myth. The dichotomy of her movie presence, Haney argues, lay between her training as a model – where each pose was carefully directed to create the perfect look – and her very real desire to be an actress.

While theatrical denizens Tennessee Williams and Sir Laurence Olivier wondered if she was really an actress at all, Haney believes she was a great artist – the cinematic equivalent of singers like Mick Jagger and Bob Dylan, whose voices may be limited in range, but unlike more technically proficient performers, are “memorable from the gate.”

Haney shared further thoughts on Marilyn in a recent interview for the Cease Cows blog.

“Sex appeal is finally a product of charisma, not beauty, contrary to the rhetoric of literalists and ideologues; and to the extent that charisma is developed, not innate, it can’t be developed in a world where people have surrendered so much of themselves to tech devices. If Marilyn Monroe had lived in the age of Instagram, I’m sure she would have wasted her gifts on selfies, and no selfie will ever endure as Monroe’s collaborations with top photographers have endured. Then, too, the Internet is intrinsically opposed to mystery, and mystery is a key component of charisma, which people are no longer capable of recognizing, it’s so scarce. “