The recent Netflix documentary called “Pamela, a Love Story” has recently become the center of our interest as the most recent revisit to the stories of famous women from the ’90s and early 2000s who were considered wrong by the public.
This documentary, together with Pamela Anderson’s memoir entitled “Love, Pamela,” provides a new twist, an opportunity to hear the story from Pamela Anderson herself. Unlike its predecessor, “Pam and Tommy,” “Pamela, a Love Story” offers a perspective on the exploitation these women suffered.
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The resurgence of wronged-woman revisitations has been growing since 2018, especially in podcasts like “You’re Wrong About.” The climactic moment came in 2021 in the form of Hulu and the New York Times’s documentary “Framing Britney Spears.” Pop culture was soon flooded with narratives of both the beloved and the scapegoated, and there were apologies for these women
“Pamela, a Love Story” is unique in that it furthers the critical analysis that all these revisitations are supposed to achieve. “Pam and Tommy” is nothing different from the same kind of callous exploiting that was made about the couple’s sex tape in 1996.
The notorious sex tape of Pamela Anderson and her ex-husband, Tommy Lee, was recorded in secrecy in 1995 but stolen and sold online by Rand Gauthier. Gauthier and others with whom the movie was distributed sued Anderson and Lee but later dropped the lawsuit. This story, “Pamela, a Love Story,” exposes the legal argument that drained the couple.
During court, Gauthier’s lawyers suggested that Anderson did not have a right to privacy because she had willingly exposed herself as a Playboy star. Anderson found that to be an argument that treated her as less than a human and took away her right to consent.
Anderson also felt uncomfortable when Hulu revealed that their TV show “Pam and Tommi” sought to shed light on her mistreatment following the release of the sex tape. It continued despite Anderson’s disappointment and statement that the show was produced without her permission.
“Pam and Tommy” came immediately after “Framing Britney Spears” success but didn’t create as much buzz. By then, the story of another blonde sex symbol cheated by the media had become somewhat tiring. Anderson’s emotional response to the show is illustrated in “Pamela, a Love Story,” a film where she had to shut it off to survive.
The creators of “Pam and Tommy” claimed that Anderson was a victim, and it didn’t matter if she had agreed to retell her story. This logic is related to the ’90s, where a fake progressive mask masked the dehumanization of Anderson. She had turned into such a pathetic woman that she could easily be replaced in the next part of the story.
Pamela, a Love story, collaborates with the hero to give an empathetic account of Anderson himself. However, it skips her relationships with controversial actors like Vladimir Putin and Julian Assange and her criticism towards the Me Too movement.
However, Pamela’s Love Story is still an improvement over its predecessor. “Pam and Tommy” did not bring something new to the public discourse and seemed only a retelling of old stories. However, “Pamela, a Love Story” poses questions about the intentions of such documentaries, whether they could be aimed at our curiosity about old scandals rather than at their principled stance against misogyny.
In summary, “Pamela, a Love Story” did better than “Pam and Tommy” by advancing a more intelligent critique of the objectification and abuse of women in the media. Such work makes us reconsider our attitude towards sensationalized stories and think about the real sense of these stories in our present-day society.