In his article on Grace Kelly and Marilyn Monroe, Thomas Harris writes about the many publicity outlets to construct a star's image. He mentions magazines, radio, TV, and newspaper, but today, social media is by far the biggest outlet of constructing a star image. This made me wonder what Marilyn Monroe's star image would look like today and if her fame would look the same in today's world. Perhaps today's equivalent to Marilyn Monroe is Kate Upton or Kim Kardashian who are also seen as male sex symbols. Kate and Kim's fame show that a Marilyn Monroe figure could achieve fame in today's world, but not of the same type. Looking at Kim Kardashian for example, she is known for her sex appeal, but she is considered a lower class of celebrity than that of say Angelina Jolie because she came to fame in a non-virtuous way. In the same sense, Kate fits the Monroe image of a dumb blonde because she came to fame through modeling and flaunting skimpy outfits while seductively eating hamburgers. For Monroe, her portrayal as a dumb blonde became an endearing quality that helped to make her beauty almost less intimidating, as seen in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes and increased her objectification. Today, sex symbols can be portrayed as unintelligent and still be sex symbols, but their portrayal as unintelligent does not make them more appealing. Just look at Miss America pageants. While Monroe's image was built to be a sex symbol, she did participate in high-culture through films such as Some Like it Hot which is critically acclaimed. If Monroe was a star today, high culture opportunities might not be available to her and she probably would take the route of Kim or Kate who are considered more B-level (or in less glamorous words, trashy) stars who have not been able to modify their role to ascend into high culture.
Today, men are still the main audiences for Upton as with Monroe but because Upton has become famous in a distracted society with social media, her overnight fame is not sustainable because Americans are already on to the next sensation. Social media means there is increased demand on our time and attention. Monroe may have just been a short-lived phenomenon if she came to fame today. Additionally, with the internet, publicists have less control over the image their clients represent. It is harder to portray someone like Grace Kelly as the girl next door or Monroe as the ideal playmate Harris describes when the reality is that no person fits one stereotype perfectly. The internet makes it easier to dig up information about a celebrity that contradicts their constructed image or that reinforces an image, making it harder to change. Outlets like Twitter and Facebook allow celebrities to have more of a personal and perhaps true and unfiltered image. Or, the illusion of Twitter being an outlet for self-expression could be exploited to make it seem like celebrities really are like their constructed images. Either way, it is interesting to think about what Marilyn Monroe's Twitter account would look like and if it would help or hurt her ability to gain audience acceptance in a different role- constructed or not.