Pamela Anderson: What Her Story Says About Us By Daisy Foster

Pamela Anderson: What Her Story Says About Us By Daisy Foster

. 4 min read

If her recent documentary and memoir have taught us nothing, it’s what it means to survive a very full life–and keep a hopeful heart.

One unsuspecting evening in 1997, I trudged over to my writing partner’s several-story walkup in NYC’s Murray Hill to find him standing, remote control in hand, excitedly in front of the TV. Those were the days of large box televisions, with cable and a VCR strung to its back. As I took off my jacket and set down my laptop, he rewound and fast-forwarded the tape—the video squiggled and shrieked—before he turned to me and asked, “Have you seen the Pam and Tommy video yet?”

Of course I hadn’t. I hadn’t wanted to either. The tape was stolen sometime in 1996, so by now, it was copied and shared and, apparently, everyone had seen it but me. I’d heard about it, of course, but not paid too much attention. All I knew was that Pamela Anderson and Tommy Lee had taped themselves gallivanting nude and having sex, mostly on a boat. This didn’t interest me in the slightest. “Dude…” my friend said, “you gotta see this…” He started the tape right at the most intimate moment, Tommy on top of Pam, her with the video camera. He climaxes and ejaculates on her. If memory serves, she kept repeating over and over that she loved him and he eventually states, wearily: “I love you…” My friend—who, if he hadn’t been an old friend would have officially been a creepy weirdo for suggesting this whole viewing session—turns to me and says, about Tommy Lee: “He’s fucking hung like a bear…”

But that wasn’t my takeaway. I felt that it was something I should not have seen. Appropriately, I hadn’t viewed a couple’s private sex tape before, and it just seemed wrong. At the time, there was a rumor that Pam and Tommy had possibly distributed this themselves for publicity, but I didn’t care. I didn’t need to see anymore.

Flash forward to February 2022, Hulu’s Pam & Tommy series is the most talked about new show. Lily James wore a breast plate and Sebastian Stan a prosthetic penis (that even talks). It’s a complete mockery of their lives and relationship. No surprise, Pamela Anderson had nothing to do with it. Why would she want to relive that horrific time in her life?

Her response was Pamela, a love story, an hour-plus documentary (released in January 2023) about her life and career, starting from her troubled childhood to the lucky breaks (combined with hard work ethic) that built a storied career in Playboy, Baywatch and then some.

If we’d been paying attention, we would have already known much of what the documentary teaches us, including the pain over her marriage to Lee (and the others that followed), as well as her and Lee’s attempts—and eventual failure—to repossess the tapes she and her husband never gave away in the first place. Other important takeaways include her ability to laugh when she’s the brunt of a joke (which she was publicly, often), her tireless advocacy for animals, and her fierce devotion to her two sons. People made a lot of money off of her and, as her son Brandon states in the documentary, she’s spent most of her life in debt.

Perhaps the greatest reminder is how, living her life in the public eye--some of it scantily clad--makes others think she doesn’t have rights to privacy. Or even her own self.

And that’s where we come in—you, me, all of us. When Pam was younger, so were we. Times, discussion, and the ability to discuss deeper topics has changed over the decades. Pamela wasn’t the first blonde to be treated like an object, bear the brunt of bad jokes, and she definitely won’t be the last.

Media created Pam and the media told us how to think. No matter how smart or how feminist you consider yourself, if you’re being honest, you followed.

What we do learn from the documentary is what a warrior she is.

More importantly, though few of us have the same exact experiences, there’s a universality in midlife that we can all relate to. Looking back at our first two or three decades, we were all beautiful with endless possibilities. The heartbreaks, though necessary, do change us. Life didn’t turn out the way we thought it was going to. But we have grown into strong and powerful creatures. Hopefully, like Pamela, we can stay pure at heart.

If you love me as much as I love you (and I really do love you!), then please help me grow by forwarding this {love} Letter to a friend! And I'd love to have you join us on instagram, facebook & twitter.

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