Last afternoon I researched Marilyn’s death out of curiosity. I’ve read about it so many times before but for whatever reason it’s one of those things where I forget parts of it and have to reread it again. And again. I think that’s because there are so many conflicting theories about it. It’s hard to make sense of it all. And eventually I run out of time and leave the topic but my mind never attaches itself properly to one theory because they mostly all feel off to me. But yesterday I must have read the right combination of articles and now I think I have a pet theory.
First, I think Marilyn really was soo much more intelligent than people gave her credit for. She was extremely talented too. There’s a reason she’s one of the most famous people in history and even though there were those who used Marilyn and helped create Marilyn she was responsible for the overwhelming majority of her vast success.
But as part of/in conjunction with her alcoholism and possible Borderline Personality Disorder which were probably due to genetics and deep trauma, her biggest issue seems to have been what I think was a death wish. …I think she loved her hard-won success. I think she knew she was brilliant. And I think she wanted to enjoy her life accordingly. But that just never quite worked out. Something always fell apart. Always. And eventually I think she broke apart inside to a degree that she truly no longer wanted to live and both actively and subconsciously looked for ways to die. Or at least to tempt fate. To challenge God.
In the midst of that deep desire to end things I think she still fought for her life occasionally, but generally I think she found ways to self-destruct. Brilliant and dramatic ways. Glamorous ways, even.
After the end of her three marriages and the miscarriages and turmoil and betrayal and overall disaster they entailed, I think she was in a particularly vulnerable and she knew that about herself too. So when she started spending more time then with Frank Sinatra and the Kennedys and all of that crowd I think it was her worst instincts that enticed her to seduce men who could truly destroy her in one way or another. Eventually anyway.
I used to think that in part she maybe believed that all men everywhere found her profoundly irresistible and would eventually become her conquests and under her control if she wished. That’s a bit narcissistic but she was indeed like a goddess and I’m sure she was used to getting her way often or not even having to try. The opposite. To the extreme. And I thought that when she discovered that the Kennedys weren’t those sort of men she just couldn’t handle it given how fragile she had become over time and she just fell apart and found herself dead one way or another. Either out of heartbreak or wounded ego or (most likely) both. But…I don’t think that was true now. Not really. I think she was street-smart enough to know how things work and I think she likely was just simply determined to find a way to die.
When she essentially threw herself entirely and perhaps also somewhat abusively at men (her psychiatrist, the Kennedys, Mafia figures) who genuinely couldn’t tolerate or truly love her she must have realized on some level that unlike Arthur Miller (who left his wife and loved her although seemingly badly) these men would either push her to kill herself or someone would kill her. She wasn’t an idiot. She knew how affairs and public images worked. Brilliantly so. She probably understood her own mind and psychology fairly well too…
Of course, if the Kennedys killed Marilyn unless it was in real self-defense and/or they feared for the safety of their family or for the lives of other American citizens it was wrong.
But besides being very sad, the fascinating thing to me is that in my new narrative regarding her death, is that instead of being this silly, blonde, gullible, drunken rag-doll that was pushed too far by those wiser and more worldly than her (poor Marilyn *rolling eyes*) she was really…a genius but tragic sort of madwoman. “If God hates me…” (Arthur Miller once claimed she thought that) “…then so be it.” She’d find some man who reminded her of the God who she believed hated her and tempt him to just finish her off entirely.
…The thing with Marilyn is that she’s never quite what she leads others to initially think. And that was both her allure and her weapon of choice, I think.