Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Entertainment Review: Pamela, A Love Story

Pamela, a love story


Pamela Anderson, as a Playboy model and Baywatch star, was once a favorite pin-up girl, “the most famous blonde in the world,” as she is described in a Netflix documentary, Pamela, a love story.


Today, she is willing to face a camera, without any make-up  and talk candidly about her life, right from a dysfunctional family, child abuse by a babysitter, rape a 12, the sudden rise to fame, the constant hounding by the paparazzi and the infamous sex tape. Shot in and around her lakeside home in Canada, she laughs a lot, and there is no bitterness about the dark bits of her past.


She was an inveterate writer of diaries, and collector of home videos, a virtual gold mine for the documentary filmmaker, Ryan White; not to mention that salacious paparazzi interest in her ensured that pretty much everything about her public persona was photographed and recorded.

Born to working class parents in a small Canadian town, Pamela was unashamed about making use of her body to achieve fame; there was an innocence to her, when she answered obnoxious questions from middle-aged, male TV hosts about her breasts. She was disarmingly honest about everything from her boyfriends, to her bottle blonde hair and breast implants.

Because she played the sexy lifeguard, CJ, in Baywatch (that ran from 1989 to 2001), which was back then the most popular TV show in the world (dubbed even in Mandarin), her many romances and impulsive marriage to  Tommy Lee, ‘bad boy’ drummer of Motley Crue, the paparazzi never left her alone, when when she had a miscarriage. It is also probably the reason why her film career was not too successful, and her fame rests on TV series, reality shows and her tumultuous love life. The leaked sex tape, stolen from their safe, and sold to a porn-hungry public in the early days of the internet, gave her an unwanted notoriety for something that was not her or Tommy Lee’s fault. 

She faced the worst kind of misogyny in those politically incorrect times, when nobody wanted to see beyond her bombshell image, the lurid tabloid coverage of her life, and her string of relationships, to give her much credit for her activism and writing (two autobiographies, three novels, non fiction and columns).

Away from her glamorous image, she wants to be seen as a regular woman, who likes being a wife (she married six times and separated from her latest husband, Dan Hayhurst in 2022) and mother (to two sons, Brandon and Dylan).  She is not the stereotypical dumb blonde– she is smart, sensitive, and articulate, in spite of which she is so often misunderstood and mocked in the media.  

Pamela, a love story is a mostly low-key documentary, which mainly serves the purpose of telling viewers not to judge a woman like Pamela Anderson—even when her life looked like it was out of control she made it out with her courage intact. Today, bottle blondes in bikinis do not raise any eyebrows, the Playboy empire has almost been dismantled, and there is worse content on the net than a pirated honeymoon sex tape; but there is still interest in the strange and exciting life of Pamela Anderson.

Deepa Gahlot
Deepa Gahlot is one of India’s seniormost and best-known entertainment journalists. A National Award-winning fim critic and author of several books on film and theatre. She tweets at @deepagahlot

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