A giant statue of Marilyn Monroe has sparked a major ruckus in California.
A 26-foot tall image of the legendary actress in one of her most iconic scenes is slated to go on display in front of a California museum, but some local residents believe the sculpture is just a bit too revealing. As Surface magazine reported, the monument shows Monroe from the iconic scene in the 1955 movie The Seven Year Itch where a gust of wind from a subway grate blows up her white dress. The city had given approval for it to go on display outside the Palm Springs Art Museum, but the center’s director doesn’t like the idea of having such a racy image placed there.
“We serve over 100,000 school-age children that come to our museum every single year. What message does that send to our young people, our visitors, and community to present a statue that objectifies women, is sexually charged and disrespectful?” he shared at a city council meeting last week.
Some shared his opinion, writing letters to local newspapers voicing their concerns about the image of Monroe being too degrading to women. The battle has played out for weeks in the California community, and now is causing a stir in the art world as well. Surface took note of the controversy, pointing out the rift between the city that approved the statue and leadership at the museum.
Steven Maloney, the chair of the facility’s board of directors, said displaying it near the front of the building implies that the organization had given its approval to place it there — when it had not. He said the giant sculpture implies “an unhealthy encouragement of risqué behavior of women.”
Some pointed out that Monroe herself hated the scene, and it had a devastating effect on her life. As The Guardian reported back in 2014 for the 60th anniversary of the scene, it led her husband at the time, Joe DiMaggio, to storm off the set in anger. Monroe filed for divorce after the two got into a violent fight at their hotel after the shoot, the report noted.
Artnet News noted that the sculpture already had a stint on display in Palm Springs and was seen as a major tourist attraction at the time.
“Marilyn has become somewhat of an icon for Palm Springs and some love her and some not so much, but at the end of the day she’s become part of our brand,” councilman J.R. Roberts said at the time.
The outlet added that the town’s tourism officials worked with the hotel consortium P.S. Resorts to place the Monroe monument there on a permanent basis.