Pam & Tommy has been a hit for Hulu, chronicling the tumultuous marriage between Pamela Anderson and rock drummer Tommy Lee. But while the dramatization of the relationship between the two and most particularly, the theft and distribution of a sex tape involving them, has been critically lauded, one person is not interested. And that is Anderson herself, who has largely not engaged with any of the publicity for the show (or the resurgent interest in the trauma around her personal life becoming public property).
Lily James, who plays Pamela Anderson in the mini-series, has said that she reached out to the actor and model and did not hear back in any capacity. It is probably safe to assume that the lack of response implicitly speaks to Anderson’s rejection of involvement in the show. An unnamed source close to Pamela Anderson recently spoke to Entertainment Weekly about it:
As a friend of Pamela, at least no one will ever ask me again if the tape was really stolen. But imagine if a celebrity today had their nudes leaked and then Hollywood recreated not just the crime but the actual nudes — that would never happen. In the ’90s, Pamela’s body was deemed by a judge to be public property. There was no question the tape was stolen property, but the court decided it wasn’t private property because her body belonged to the world.
Regardless of the identity of the source, they make a very good point. Pamela Anderson has been in the public eye for essentially her entire life, after skyrocketing to fame after appearing in Playboy magazine as February 1990 Playmate of the Month. Between starting out in a small role on the sitcom Home Improvement, her many other Playboy appearances, and various films and TV roles, Anderson has always been treated as more of a personality-less body than a person. Though she has been increasingly forthright about her long history of abuse and her struggles as an assault survivor, Anderson is still viewed as a sex symbol first and foremost.
And while there has been a cultural reckoning with the treatment of other female sex symbols in the 1990s, such Britney Spears and Janet Jackson, Anderson has never been in the same echelon of success or respect. As such, she has never seemed to be allowed the same consideration or defense they did.
Pam & Tommy was based on a piece in Rolling Stone called “Pam and Tommy: The Untold Story of the World’s Most Infamous Sex Tape,” and then developed for Hulu by filmmaker Robert Siegel. While part of the series seems to be attempting to contextualize how Pamela Anderson was mocked by society for having a literal crime committed against her, it has also sparked debate as to whether attempting to fictionally portray the effects of public humiliation is actually different from inflicting it once again.
We have to assume that Anderson does not support the mini-series, though her now former husband Tommy Lee has cooperated with the show and met with Sebastian Stan, the actor portraying him. While the events around the theft of her sex tape are now a matter of historical record, there is certainly nothing that says Anderson has to have anything to do with it. As the source above put it, at some point Anderson was deemed by society to essentially be a public resource. It is to her credit that she is now at the point in her life and career where she can decide to opt-out of that, even if society can’t stop being fascinated.