The placement of a towering Marilyn Monroe statue in the heart of Palm Springs, Calif., has sparked controversy.
The 26-foot-tall sculpture, which was on show temporarily from 2012 to 2014, captures the iconic scene from the movie "The Seven Year Itch," in which Monroe stands over a subway grate with wind blowing up her flowing white dress. Although it was considered one of the hottest attractions downtown, part of the issue is that the statue will be placed with its back to the Palm Springs Art Museum.
During a November city council meeting to discuss the placement of the sculpture, Louis Grachos, the director of the Palm Springs Art Museum, pointed out that visitors exiting the museum would be forced to look up Monroe's skirt.
"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," Grachos told the council, according to NPR.
Despite his objections, the statue was given the go-ahead to be placed in front of the museum for three years. Since then, the backlash has gained momentum. A Change.org petition has been created and, as of Monday morning, more than 40,800 people have signed it.
The petition protests the hyper-sexualization and objectification of a Hollywood icon.
"In the 1950s she [Monroe] bravely spoke out about the abuse she endured at the hands of studio heads and others she called ‘wolves.’ She warned upcoming female actors to beware of them," the creator of the petition wrote.
"Placing a hyper-sexualized, misogynist statue of Marilyn at the entrance to the elegant Palm Springs Art Museum sends a message to the community, its visitors (especially young, innocent children), and tourists that this somehow represents ‘the real Marilyn,’ a Marilyn she would have been proud to see celebrated."
This, however, was not true, the petition continued.
"She wanted to be taken seriously as an artist and not just a sexual icon. We join others in asking the City of Palm Springs to venerate—not defile—her memory," it read.
Elizabeth Armstrong, a spokesperson for the Change.org petition, slammed the sculpture as "blatantly sexist," adding that Monroe is "literally going to be mooning the museum."
Protests meanwhile have broken out in the city and a Committee to Relocate Marilyn (CReMa ) also has been established to speak out against the placement of Monroe's statue.
"CReMa believes there is wide support in Palm Springs and beyond for returning Marilyn to her planned location, or another appropriate space," the committee’s GoFundMe page reads, adding that donations would go toward "legal fees, advertising, and materials to support our position."
Commenting on the objections, Aftab Dada, who is the director at the Palm Springs Hilton and the head of PS Resorts, which is the organization that's decided on the placement of the statue in Coachella Valley, said it will be beneficial, not harmful, for the city.
"She makes [the] majority of the people very happy," Dada said. "The photos taken, and being transmitted all over the world, will do nothing but benefit the city of Palm Springs."
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