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The Faces of Marilyn Monroe and Lady Gaga

Wake vortex. Courtesy of NASA Langley Research Center

Pondering the many aspects of being human, my mind turned to Marilyn Monroe and Lady Gaga. On the surface they have many similarities. Outrageous clothes, exploiting their sexuality and craving attention above all else. Lady Gaga did an interview with Anderson Cooper without wearing pants and Marilyn was sewn into the dress she wore when popping out of a cake singing happy birthday to President Kennedy. Both were passionate advocates for the underdog. Ardent students of their crafts, highly intelligent, brilliantly lively and scintillating conversationalists, yet each drew massive ridicule aimed at their reckless presentation and/or shallowness. Frequently bold and provocative other times fearful and withdrawn; both stars have been painfully candid about their countless insecurities. Lady Gaga freely admits her attachment to whisky, pot and ‘past’ cocaine usage. Marilyn’s addictions to substances led to her death. Notorious for infuriating tardiness, their penchant for defiance is gleaned in the following quotes.

I love to do things that the censors won’t pass.” Marilyn Monroe

I’m obsessively opposed to the typical.” Lady Gaga from her song, the Fame

In previous blogs I talked about the faces we live, the numerous aspects that make a person who he/she has become. I use roles/parts/faces interchangeably. For example, we all have some version of our ‘working face’. Can you imagine the role confusion and overall mess things would be if each of us went to work blabbing about all of our personal problems. It is necessary, appropriate and authentic to have different faces as we participate in different social settings. The operative word here is have. Because humans are multidimensional, parts collectively make up the totality of who we are. Granted, some parts are more developed than others. For instances, I might have a quite assertive professional face (a pro-active part) then turn into a wimp with my partner and children. Then, feeling as if I have lost control as a parent or partner another part of me may react by urging me to eat ice cream or do some on-line shopping which will make me feel better (re-active part). Re-active parts truly believe that if I will just take some type of external action my internal anxious parts will calm down. It’s not always true of course, nonetheless it’s what we’ve come to firmly believe.

Recently, while driving with my husband, I received a very scary phone call from my adult son. All of a sudden my stomach was churning, my breath was quick and shallow and my right shoulder was scrunched up to my ear. I began telling my husband to slow down, move over to the right lane, watch out for the guy in front of us, etc. In truth, his driving was perfect. But receiving that call initiated physical responses, and I was immediately hijacked by a re-active part of myself. It had me. As soon as I was able to see what I was doing I apologized to my husband (always a good thing to do when one is wrong) and began to sooth myself by slowing doing my breathing thereby having my part.

When Lady Gaga was asked by an interviewer, “What do you think is the biggest misconception about you?” she replied, “That I’m a character. Or that Gaga is separate from Stefani. We are one and the same, there is no difference…”

Her response is a perfect example of one having their part. Gaga has deliberately developed a persona that is a brilliant show business extravaganza part but it is a part of the totality of Stefani. It is not the whole of Gaga. It is just one part of her. As Walt Whitman said,

Do I contradict myself? Very well then I contradict myself,
(I am large, I contain multitudes.)

Somewhere I read about Marilyn practicing walking while wearing only one shoe to further enhance her sexy strut. That and her sugary, whispery voice were what the studios wanted from her. She complied by perfecting that part of herself. Was the Marilyn Monroe persona a real part of Marilyn? Absolutely! But it was certainly not the whole of her which she never stopped developing.

“My work is the only ground I’ve ever had to stand on. I seem to have a whole superstructure with no foundation — but I’m working on the foundation.” Marilyn.

Speaking of parts, I wonder how many parts or internal dialogue Anderson Cooper had to manage during his interview with Lady Gaga. Certainly he had his professional, in control, interviewer part in the lead. But what about the voices/parts in his head which were probably saying something like, “Holy sh…t!”

I cannot begin to imagine what thoughts he had to contain while interviewing such a bold, compelling and attractive woman while she was not wearing any pants. I was very impressed. Way to go, Anderson.

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Comments

  1. Insightful and linguistically delicious! Thank you.
    Joyfully,
    ~ Twinkle

    • “linguistically delicious”. Best coupling of words I have ever heard.

      Thank you so much for taking the time to comment.

      Best always, dawn

  2. Hi Dawn,

    I did some of the work you suggested.

    I let the rager do a collage. It is very interesting, She picked my favorite color (a type of blue you see in a cloudy sky), a black wolf instead my usual grey one, and these busy guys paddling a canoe. Each symbol seems to represent something important. The blue color is a favorite and reminds me of a somber, pensive part of me that likes to write. The wolf showed up for me when I searched for an animal totem many years ago. The wolf has been a frequent visiter when I do visualizations or when I dream. I am not as comfortable when the black wolf shows up. He often brings a warning and seems to have more intensity than the grey. I have come to pay attenttion to his visits and ask myself what he is trying to say. Sometimes I have been able to head off trouble that way. sometimes I just ignore the warning and pick up the mess later.

    The guys from the canoe remind me of a time when I uncovered my rage in therapy. I was in a guided meditation and my couselor was leading me through a ” light at the end of tunnel” kind of experience. On my way I dropped behind my belly buttom. I found this red hot environment. It was empty except for this green war tank being driven in circles. I could hear two men talking inside the tank. I had the sense they were keeping a lid on things. Doing the collage I got a sense that these two guys were taking care of my legacy burdens. Can you tell me more about those?

    I enjoyed the latest blog about Marilyn and Lady Gaga. It seems that Gaga has more of the big “S” self.

    Gayle

    • Dear Gayle,

      Wow! Such beautiful imagery. Thank you for sharing your insightful process.

      Legacy burdens are beyond the scope of this blog for now as I do not feel that I could do justice to the topic in this form. However, I will offer a couple of examples. Often these types of burdens can be passed down generationally.

      For example, perhaps someone grew up in a family with a long history of poverty. Currently, they have an abundance of wealth but find themselves unable to enjoy the richness having been given messages of scarcity throughout their childhood.

      Since the healing form of art/collage seems so rich for you, perhaps you could do another collage. Knowing your family history as only you can know it; gently ask yourself what challenges or unhealed wounds of my parents/ancestors might be weighing on my heart.

      My adoptive father was a WWII vet with massive unresolved issues directly related to his war experience. Every time I see WWII vets my heart aches from such a deep place I can hardly breathe. This too could be a legacy burden.

      Hope this helps. Thank you for commenting.

      Blessings, dawn

  3. Thanks Dawn. I’ll try the Legacy collage next. Such an interesting process. Loving all parts of me is getting easier. Gayle

    • Artciels like this are an example of quick, helpful answers.

      • Butterfly,

        Thank you for visiting my new blog site. I just read your response today. Unfortunately, your comment went to Spam which tells me I have lots to learn about how this blogging stuff works.

        Be well, dawn

  4. Ron Kelley says:


    Dawn,
    You speak of Anderson Cooper’s interview perceptions as being varied, perhaps so. But I wonder how many of us would consider a Lady Gaga no more than a highly paid clown to be pitied. Of course she is in show business and (surely in this case) being a spectacle can be profitable. She must stand out.

    MM was paid to be unusually sexy and played her part as well to be a success in her business. As I get older, I realize how beautiful and sexy most women are in their own world. I suppose recognizing and accepting the parts and the roles we each play in our real world is what keeps us from the destruction MM was forced into. Time will tell on LG.

    RonK

    • Hi Ron,

      “Man is a role player”, said by psychiatrist J.L. Moreno, known as the father of psychodrama.

      The point is to have our parts/roles so we can decide who is driving our bus so to speak (not that that always works which is why we hear people say, “I just wasn’t myself today”.

      I used Lady Gaga as an example precisely b/c she appears to have her parts/roles, indeed, uses them well to her advantage.
      I wish that I could flaunt my outrageous part from time to time but that part of me is trumped by a controlling, pruned faced conservative type that is prone to embarrassment. So I have an overdeveloped critic part that shuts down an underdeveloped wannabe showy part.
      Marilyn Monroe seemed over-identified (blended) with her beautiful/sexy role, was heartbroken when few acknowledged her serious part and lamented the sexy/dumb blond roles she felt cemented in. I would argue that her self-destructive parts (for example, her fears and addictions) overwhelmed her.

      Lady Gaga does not appear to feel the same degree of rejection that Marilyn was reported to have experienced. Lady Gaga also refuses to be typecast.

      Moreno’s “concept of mental health was based on the idea of the multi-role personality, the individual with a large repertoire of roles and the ability to act the right way at the right time.” The Essential Moreno, Jonathan Fox Editor.

      The Internal Family System model, referenced on this webpage, gives easy access in the discovering of one’s parts/roles.

      Best, dawn

    • Knwoedlge wants to be free, just like these articles!

  5. Ron Davis says:

    I think it’s important to point out the fact that once you are as big as Lady Gaga or Marylin Monroe you are able to have Personal Assistants to help you manage your parts, publicist, agent, manager, bodygaurd, the list goes on. It would be interesting to see how long they remain in Self before a part hijacked them if they had to manage all of their own affairs like the rest of us do.

    • Hi Ron,

      Personal assistants, such as publicist, agent, manager, bodyguard, etc. are not part of a person’s self-system. Each of us has to find a way to deal with our insides no matter how much assistance we have on the outside. I do not know enough about Lada Gaga to comment about the degree she was able to remain in Self (meaning she had her parts vs. her parts had her). I do know even with all of the help Marilyn Monroe had she was hijacked more often than not with parts such as depression, fears, insecurities and addictions culminating in her death. I would say that Marilyn’s graphic illustration of distress is another reason to understand ourselves.

      The more we allow ourselves to unfold, the less likely we are to unravel. Rabbi Irwin Kula

      Best, Dawn

      • Hi Ron,

        Personal assistants, such as publicist, agent, manager, bodyguard, etc. are not part of a person’s self-system. Each of us has to find a way to deal with our insides no matter how much assistance we have on the outside. I do not know enough about Lada Gaga to comment about the degree she was able to remain in Self (meaning she had her parts vs. her parts had her). I do know even with all of the help Marilyn Monroe had she was hijacked more often than not with parts such as depression, fears, insecurities and addictions culminating in her death. I would say that Marilyn’s graphic illustration of distress is another reason to understand ourselves.

        The more we allow ourselves to unfold, the less likely we are to unravel. Rabbi Irwin Kula

        Best, Dawn

      • Glad I’ve finlaly found something I agree with!

    • Many many quality pontis there.

  6. Son of a gun, this is so hepflul!

  7. Jody Velarde Copeland says:

    HI Dawn! I just began reading your blogs. I am so happy that I have found you again. Reading your words brings me right back to the days I sat and listened to you. It’s so comforting. I will keep reading. You are an amazing woman!

    Jody

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