“Blonde” director Andrew Dominik is addressing backlash against the Netflix movie. 

The filmmaker discussed his controversial Marilyn Monroe biopic during an appearance at Red Sea International Film Festival in Saudi Arabia over the weekend, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

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Talking about how American audiences reacted to the film, Dominik said, “They hated the movie!” 

He continued, “Now we’re living in a time where it’s important to present women as empowered, and they want to reinvent Marilyn Monroe as an empowered woman. That’s what they want to see. And if you’re not showing them that, it upsets them. Which is kind of strange, because she’s dead. The movie doesn’t make any difference in one way or another.”

The film, which stars Ana de Armas, includes scenes in which Monroe undergoes a graphic abortion and is forced to perform oral sex on President John F. Kennedy.

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Discussing accusations that “Blonde” exploited Monroe’s trauma, Dominik said, “What they really mean is that the film exploited their memory of her, their image of her, which is fair enough. But that’s the whole idea of the movie. It’s trying to take the iconography of her life and put it into service of something else, it’s trying to take things that you’re familiar with, and turning the meaning inside out. But that’s what they don’t want to see.”

He added that growing up in the ’80s was a time when “offend[ing] your audience was a solemn duty, to wrench them out of a complacency about things,” and that he was “really pleased” that “Blonde” had “outraged so many people.”