The unspoken truth about Pamela Anderson's new 'redemption'.

Pamela Anderson's entire career has been boiled down to a Halloween costume.

At least, that's the wry observation she made multiple times throughout a week where both her name and legacy are dominating the headlines. 

This week, her memoir Love, Pamela has been released alongside her Netflix documentary Pamela, A Love Story, with both projects accompanied by multiple magazine profiles and in-depth interviews.

Watch: The trailer for Pamela's documentary Pamela, A Love Story below. Post continues after video.

Video via Mamamia.

In both her new releases, the 55-year-old actress, model, author, and activist speaks about being seen as a caricature, someone whose existence has been boiled down to an ideal last-minute party costume. Just throw on a cheap blonde wig, stuff some balloons down the front of a shirt, and you're good to go. 

And in truth, it's really only in the last year or so that the public tide of opinion around Pamela Anderson has really started to turn.

The star has devoted much of her life to animal rights activism and has taken a stance against pornography and the unrealistic portrayal of sex it promotes. Even co-authoring both a book and a viral Wall Street Journal opinion on the subject while also lecturing on the topic at Oxford University. 


Yet she is more associated with her Playboy model days, her red Baywatch swimsuit, and her love life which includes six tumultuous marriages to the likes of Tommy Lee and Kid Rock. 

But at the height of her career, she was most widely known for video footage of her and then-husband Tommy Lee, which was stolen from a safe in their home in 1995. 

Snippets showing them naked on holiday were spliced together to make one tape and then distributed against their will to create a headline-making sex tape. One that literally caused the newly invented internet to break down as people scrambled to buy thousands upon thousands of copies.

This particular tabloid spectacle came screaming back into public view last year with the series Pam & Tommy, starring Lily James and Sebastian Stan, which centred on the stolen tape.

Just not in the words of Pamela herself, who was not involved in the process and has only now aired her true feelings about the highly viewed and award-nominated series.

Listen to Mamamia's entertainment and pop culture podcast The Spill. Post continues below.

Alongside calling the team behind the series "assholes", Pamela also said "they shouldn’t have been able" to create the series without her permission. "This feels like when the tape was stolen, it's just rubbing salt in the wound," she added.

There are pivotal scenes within Pamela, A Love Story that show her reacting to news of the series being made, and her son Brandon (who serves as a producer on the Netflix documentary) calling her to report back after watching some of the series himself.


We watch as Pamela talks about initially having to block out the public shaming and abuse she endured as a result of the tape being released. She then laments that the series has made her feel like she's right back in that moment, feeling like she is owned by the world.

Using archival, personal footage of Pamela, and showing how the media and public treated her, whether it be through offensive late-night interviews, relentless paparazzi attacks, the trial over the sex tape where both her body and sexuality were ridiculed, or the domestic abuse she suffered at the hands of partners, including Tommy Lee, there's no doubt that thanks to this documentary in particular, her public persona has undergone a sharp change.

Of course, nothing about her life warranted a public 'redemption', yet that's exactly what she's had.

Once a upon a time, the name 'Pamela Anderson' conjured up the image of a reckless party girl, a woman who screamed at paparazzi, was the butt of every late night joke, and who many assumed had secretly released her own sex tape in a bid to desperately cling to infamy.

Now she is more widely seen as Pamela the survivor, a devoted mother whose latest projects are mainly a love letter to her two sons and a woman whose image has been stolen in more ways than one.

Yet the unspoken truth about Pamela Anderson's new 'redemption' is that the public's renewed fascination with her is not as pure or altruistic as it might seem.

As much as she has spoken about her disgust at Pam and Tommy being made, it is the catalyst for the public's renewed interest in defending her name.

The series took many comedic turns while telling a story with a very serious core, and certainly didn't stick super close to the truth when it came to detailing Pam and Tommy's relationship. 


But it did have many moments where it showed her true distress and pain, and the unfair way her name was dragged through the mud. For many viewers, it was the first time they really understood the murky history behind one of the world's most infamous sex tapes.

The uncomfortable truth is, we are in an era where we are more than happy to look back on the ill-treatment of famous women and defend them, as long as we get to revel in their suffering for pleasure a little bit first.

From the semi-fictionalised 'redemption' arcs of Monica Lewinsky in Impeachment: American Crime Story and even Marilyn Monroe through films such as Blonde, to Paris Hilton and Britney Spears via documentaries, there's a price we ask famous women to pay before we're willing to rewrite their narrative.

Their stories have to be presented to us via voyeuristic entertainment with a touch of glamour, and in many cases, even against their own will.

Pamela Anderson has every right to speak ill of the TV series that bears her name because this trend is centred on public consumption rather than the individual celebrities whose treatment we have been rethinking.

While looking back on these stories with less sexist and tabloid-driven eyes is only a positive step forward, it's also worth looking at the way we now choose to consume them.

Laura Brodnik is Mamamia's Head of Entertainment and host of The Spill podcast. You can follow her on Instagram here.

Feature Image: Netflix

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