Growing up, everyone knew who Pamela Anderson was. As our modern-day Marilyn Monroe, the Baywatch beauty was sensationalized. She didn’t invent the mold of the buxom blonde, but she improved upon it. She led a cinematic life that became the obsession of a generation and her every move inspired tabloid fodder.
It was almost as though the paparazzi were a part of her entourage. At the time, the amount of access we had to Pamela Anderson was well ahead of its time, and so was the starlet’s ability to deal with it. It’s an interesting thing to think about; the fact that the world was audience to a life and yet it still isn’t enough to know everything about a person, no matter how much we may think we do.
If you’re familiar with Pamela Anderson, then chances are you’re familiar with the infamous leak of her sex tape with Motley Crue drummer and rockstar Tommy Lee. The event was recently dramatized by Sebastian Stan and Lily James in Hulu’s Pam & Tommy. While the project tried to stay true to the actual events and tried to destigmatize Anderson, they still did it without input from Anderson.
There have been countless profiles, documentaries, and think pieces about Pamela Anderson, but only the newest Netflix doc, Pamela: A Love Story, tells the Pamela Anderson story from Pamela Anderson. Directed by Ryan White, and Executive Produced by Pamela and her two sons, Brandon Thomas Lee and Dylan Jagger Lee, Pamela: A Love Story makes reality the fiction of Pamela Anderson’s life.
Her talking head is done up with minimal makeup. Anderson is seen comfortable in a slip and robe as she recounts the parts of her life she’s allowed herself to relish. She’s not timid or shy, but she’s soft, confident, and full of joy. A stark difference to the expectation of sexuality and aloofness. Along with talking heads from her friends and loved ones and archival footage, Pam: A Love Story is frank, open, and without pretense. One of the most notable quotes is Anderson talking about the labels of villain and victim.
“I’m not a victim,” she says, “I put myself in crazy situations and survived them.” It’s her way of taking accountability and at the same time taking control of the narrative. Anderson doesn’t tell the tale of being a sexpot pin-up, but rather she tells the story of a young girl raised in a small town in British Columbia. The young girl who has battled demons since she was young, who wanted to escape and live her life like a fairytale.
She made a lot of mistakes, and the documentary does a great job of telling her side of each encounter. We learn of Anderson’s journaling and poetry. While the documentary is filming, she’s also working on her memoir, Dreams Do Come True. She’s also developing a new TV show, she’s running her farm, and being a mother to her sons. Anderson humbly tells of her exploits chalking it up to restlessness, but the truth is behind the blonder assumptions lies a woman full of substance, joy and love.
I highly recommend the documentary, to see the life of a woman who for so long was defined by others. Her own words, thoughts, and feelings prove to be just as magical as the press.
Pamela: A Love Story is showing now on Netflix.
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