The 26-foot statue of Marilyn Monroe has been criticized for depicting the star's iconic scene from the 1955 film The Seven Year Itch

By Salina Tsegai
May 17, 2021 05:25 PM
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J. Seward Johnson's, "Forever Marilyn" statue sits at Pioneer Court in Chicago
Credit: Raymond Boyd/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty

Palm Springs' iconic Marilyn Monroe statue is soon set to make its comeback, but not everyone is happy about it.

After seven years, the 26-foot statue titled Forever Marilyn, depicting the Hollywood icon in a flaring white halter dress, will return to Palm Springs permanently. However, many have criticized its future placement in the city, while others call the commemorative piece sexist. 

The stainless steel and aluminum sculpture, which is based on Monroe’s signature pose from the 1955 film The Seven Year Itch, was one of Palm Springs’ most popular attractions between 2012-2014. 

"She makes [the] majority of the people very happy," managing director at the Palm Springs Hilton Aftab Dada told NPR. "The photos taken, and being transmitted all over the world, will do nothing but benefit the city of Palm Springs."

However, some aren't excited about the statue's placement, which would display Monroe's backside right in front of the Palm Springs Art Museum's entrance.

"The thought of those kids leaving our museum and having the first thing they see is the undergarments and underwear of this enormous Marilyn sculpture would be highly offensive," Louis Grachos, the director of the museum, told the city council, according to NPR.

Despite his concerns, the council voted on temporarily placing the statue at the front of the museum for the next three years. 

Others share similar concerns with Grachos, saying the statue promotes an act of sexual harassment known as upskirting, when someone takes photos under a person's skirt without their knowledge.

1. MARILYN MONROE'S WHITE DRESS FROM THE SEVEN YEAR ITCH
Credit: Everett

"She's literally going to be mooning the museum," Elizabeth Armstrong told NPR. She's the former director of the Palm Springs Art Museum and spokesperson for a Change.org petition opposing Monroe's objectifying statue, which currently has over 40,000 signatures.

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"It's blatantly sexist," said Armstrong. "It forces people almost to upskirt."

Dada, who heads the tourist group PS Resorts that bought the statue for $1 million, expressed his own shock at the statue's controversial return considering Palm Springs' bustling art scene. 

"She's an attraction, in our opinion," Dada told NPR. "She's not an art."

To quell some of the backlash, Dada said a thorough "independent research study" on the statue's economic impact and benefit for the city and museum would be conducted.