The misunderstood

Media’s effect on the image of a popular figure.


Photo by Braylen Garren

photo illustration

Story by Zoe Rushing, staff writer

Media has a large impact on public opinion and knowledge — especially when it comes to an individual’s image. There are countless articles and productions created by studios centering on an iconic figure’s life, but this can come with a negative following as it impacts how society views these people. Their lives are forgotten in exchange for romance and a more dramatic appeal while the human side tends to be forgotten.

Figures from all throughout history and pop culture have fallen into this hole, and it has made us forget important aspects of life in favor of drama. Here are some icons whose image has been heavily impacted by different forms of media. 

Marilyn Monroe

The blonde bombshell whose life has been retold and adapted in almost every form of media possible and is remembered for her controversies, beauty and death. This iconic sex symbol is constantly remembered for her roles and her dumb blonde personality.

However, the “dumb blonde” stereotype doesn’t truly apply. Monroe was actually a quiet young woman who valued intellect over beauty and didn’t even mind the idea of losing her own beauty as she aged. She held rather progressive ideas for her time and radical political views that not everyone agreed with during the time. 

Marie Antoinette 

The controversial French queen herself has always been on a thin line of misunderstood and out of touch. Antoinette made mistakes during her life and reign. However, there are some facts that do help explain her fault and highlight her human side.

Antoinette was married off when she was only 14 and became the Queen of France at age 20. She had little say in the life she was thrown into, was expected to dress ravishly and party constantly, which happens to be all the things she was criticized for. She did show some levels of kindness such as when she chose to adopt one of her late ladies in waiting’s daughter. While Antoinette was no saint, she has a complexity that surpasses just a ditzy unempathetic queen. 

 Vincent Van Gogh

The classic painting, The Starry Night, can be seen on all types of merchandise nowadays and when looking at the artist behind the art, there tends to be a similar idea of Vincent Van Gogh. He was the wild artist who cut his own ear off and suffered from bad mental health. However, this is only a small part of who Vincent was. 

Van Gogh may have struggled his whole life with his art and mental health, but there is a bit more to the supposed mad artist. He pursued art with an utter dedication to the point he would stress himself out over not creating anything. Despite only selling one painting in his life, he would never give up his passion and go on to create 900 paintings. He was an artist who used his creations to evoke emotion in a style far ahead of its time and kept painting despite hardships.

When people tell stories about a person’s life, they will likely have to sacrifice aspects of their lives for the sake of telling a story, and there’s nothing wrong with this. What is important is that viewers and creators alike come to an understanding that fantasy is not always reality, and there tends to be more to people then a screen can provide.