Anyone who lives in Palm Springs knows the most divisive debate taking place over recent months was not whether to mask or not, but rather where to place — or where not to place — the iconic Marilyn Monroe statue, “Forever Marilyn,” as she makes her triumphant return to the desert.
This towering 26-foot sculpture first made its way to Palm Springs in 2012. Marilyn seemed right at home in our happy little hamlet. Locals and tourists flocked to Palm Canyon Drive, looking for an opportunity to be photographed amidst one of the most renowned scenes in film history – you know “The Seven Year Itch” where Marilyn’s skirt floats up as she stands over a subway grate: “Isn’t it delicious!” (Her words, not mine.)
Adults and children making their mecca to the monument, marveled alike. Marilyn’s platinum coif shimmered like swirled ice cream; her parted lips, the color of fresh cherries; the infamous cream-colored dress sculpted ever so delicately despite the fact it is made out of steel. And, then those panties floating blithely over our heads.
During Marilyn’s inaugural reign, I noticed two distinct photos on everyone’s list: Shot #1, standing in front of the statue, sometimes mimicking the pose (works better if you’re a woman or a man in drag), always smiling. They then quickly moved onto Shot #2 – standing between Marilyn’s legs, some even pointing up, always laughing by now.
“Forever Marilyn” had and has an amazing power to bring joy to people. That no one can debate. However now that she returns, we have found plenty to talk about.
Mainly, her new home will position her in front of the Palm Springs Art Museum — her posterior poised directly toward the entrance.
Yes, Marilyn will be mooning the museum – for at least the next few years.
This placement and positioning has been at the center of the Marilyn debate. There have been petitions, protests, even lawsuits over attempts to prevent Marilyn from taking residency at her new home. None has prevailed.
Seems everyone has gotten their panties in a bunch over Marilyn. Buy why this time?
First, the #Me Too Movement has rightfully changed a lot of misogynistic mentalities. Second, the location fronting the museum (which btw, Marilyn is well over a block away from the museum entrance, so it’s not like a big affront). We’re even hearing comments: “Do we want our children exposed to Marilyn’s panties!!!!!”
Have you seen what your kids watch on TV? Caught any music videos lately? Been to bar on a Saturday night? “Forever Marilyn” seems quite tame in comparison to those, and let’s not forget, Marilyn built her legacy upon sex appeal; she was quite adept at using this tool to her benefit.
Beauty and art are in the eye of the beholder. As I type these words, there is a ’68 Chevy Malibu suspended over a pit of water outside the above-mentioned museum, and then there are the alien babies climbing the walls nearby (I hope they don’t climb up Marilyn’s skirt!). Let’s not forget all the purple, orange and lime green architectural touches which dot our fair city.
I say, ban ‘em all! After all, Palm Springs is a cultured resort town, not a tacky Atlantic City boardwalk. We can’t have our drawers showing!
That said, Marilyn’s return to the city and the surrounding bruhaha has garnered Palm Springs international attention, which ain’t bad for our economy.
Marilyn creates a big tourist draw and that means jobs for locals (I was surprised when I saw a local shop owner being the most vocal about Marilyn’s placement. Just who does she think purchases her day glo fashions?).
I digress and don’t get me started. I realized when I moved to a resort/retirement community, I might encounter a different communal mindset. That said, with all that’s going on in the world – is it necessary to get so vehement over a piece of metal?
I say, “Relax!” It’s just a statue. It is iconic. It is something that brings joy to people. Isn’t that something to be applauded not looked upon with disdain?
I never thought I’d welcome the often incessant “coyote alert” updates, but I prefer that noise over the calamitous comments from the “Move Marilyn” minions.
Welcome home Marilyn.