14ymedio, Juan Diego Rodríguez, Havana, 11 October 2022 – There were lines outside the Yara and Chaplin cinemas in Havana last weekend as people waited to see (on the cinema screen, as opposed to via Netflix streaming, which is how the rest of the world has viewed it) Andrew Dominik’s movie, Blonde.
The fictionalized version of the life of Marilyn Monroe, played in the movie by the Cuban actress Ana de Armas, seems to have ignited a frenzy for the “blonde bombshell,” which is now even being replicated in the more tourist-orientated markets, such as the one at No. 23 Calle F, in El Vedado.
A few years ago, in place of the American actress’s portrait, all of the local craft fairs were full of images of Chaplin’s tramp, or of the facade of the Bodeguita del Medio bar, or of brightly colored palm trees on the sea shore. Images of Che Guevara, or austere profiles of Fidel Castro also appeared here and there, for the purpose of pleasing the tourists.
Today, people no longer want to show ideological loyalty by putting up pictures of guerillas or commanders in their living rooms, instead the youthful face of Chicuelo has proliferated so much as to have become a cliché. But the blonde with the pouting lips and the sensual eyes has not been as commonly seen in Cuba as in other countries. Ideological excess, official anti-imperialism and other prudishnesses have kept her somewhat distanced for decades from the paintbrushes and the living room walls.
To have Monroe’s image in the home might have been seen, only a short while ago, as a mere ideological amusement, but these days it fits perfectly with the universal identity crisis that all Cubans are feeling. It is as if people are reinstating part of a history which was almost unknown on the island until very recently — a country where Michael Jackson never performed, a country where people practically only began to listen to The Beatles once they had already broken up.
Given the choice between an olive green beret and a head of golden locks, many people now prefer to wake up and look at “Marilyn de Armas.”
Translated by Ricardo Recluso
COLLABORATE WITH OUR WORK: The 14ymedio team is committed to practicing serious journalism that reflects Cuba’s reality in all its depth. Thank you for joining us on this long journey. We invite you to continue supporting us by becoming a member of 14ymedio now. Together we can continue transforming journalism in Cuba.