‘Pam & Tommy’ looks back at another ’90s tabloid story

Between reboots, docuseries and dramas, we’ve had plenty of time in recent years to reexamine the scandals and headlines of the ’90s. What feels like a not-so-distant childhood era to most millennials, is now a decade long enough in the past to be evaluated with today’s new perspective. It makes both great TV and a lot of puzzling as we all try to remember the fuzzy pop culture phenomena of our youth. This memory can be a little uncomfortable as we realize the disservice the collective mentality of three decades ago could have been. Hulu’s new show Pam & Tommy could provide that roller coaster of emotions as he revisits the infamous scandal that was the release of Pamela Anderson and Tommy Lee’s sex tape.

From director Craig Gillespie – who has experience re-coloring women of the directing era Me, Tonya – the trailer begins with Seth Rogan as Rand Gauthier, the electrician who stole the tape from their house, showing the tape to porn producer “Uncle Miltie” played by Nick Offerman. The two are described as skeezy voyeurs, mules and all. Uncle Miltie is amazed at the outrageous images, “it seems so private”, adding, “that’s kind of what makes him so hot”. It’s a damning look at how the series will condemn the frenzy that surrounded the strip’s release. As the trailer continues, Lee (Sebastian Stan) tells panicked Pamela Anderson (Lily James), “I’m on the tape like you.” She retorts, “not like me, you are not,” a subtle but precise hunch that the culture of the day would treat Anderson differently when the tape was released.

Other works have emerged in recent years that take a similar stance, recontextualizing how the ’90s and early years treated women in popular culture. Paris Hilton It’s Paris and the multiple docuseries that have emerged on Britney Spears at the time show a feverish desire to supersexualize starlets, while depriving them of their autonomy. The whole question is about the assumptions we make about these women when they find themselves in the eye of the tabloid headline storm. While we eat all the content surrounding the scandal, we also often naturally assume that the subject of the scandal deserves it. That they wanted to be famous, so it’s their fault when they do. Or, in Anderson’s case, that she showed her body in a swimsuit on TV, so a sex tape wouldn’t be a major difference. But between the hungry and uncontrolled media machine of decades past and the sad kind of feminism of the time that didn’t really exist beyond “I can be sexy if I want to be”, it was a dangerous climate. to be a famous woman. .

Gillespie spoke at this point with Collider. “There is the media victimization and what happened with this tape that was such an affront to them, and how it really damaged their personal lives and their careers,” Gillespie said. “There’s this situation with the audience giggling and like, ‘Oh, yeah, I know that story. They sold it. But people just don’t know the story. It’s the stinking reality of these kinds of stories that we have to face: that part of what makes them compulsively consumable is that there are victims. We become the judge and jury of a person’s morality, while seeing their most private moments against their will.

While we’ve luckily grown a bit collectively over the years in terms of acceptable media fodder, there’s still an insidious thirst for scandal, especially sexual variety. This is why disturbing nuances like revenge porn have popped up, and in many ways we can think of these earlier sex tape leaks as the birth of this beast. Work has been done to end pornographic revenge legally, but it seems the sex scandal fever of decades past has gone culturally underground. There might be an air of moral superiority now in terms of what can be released and undoubtedly consumed, but people still have the underhand tendency to see others compromise.

Part of what has helped end the leaked sex tape market is the work done by feminist thought leaders and professionals in the porn industry to insist on greater integrity within big business. sex. Author and pornstar Stoya has helped reframe the way the masses watching porn treat the women they watch with so much enthusiasm. When his book Philosophy, Pussycats and Porn came out in 2018, she spoke about how “dehumanizing” people viewed her just by seeing her in porn. In the opening of the book, she describes: “People often see me as a two-dimensional representation and twist my timeline to fit the narrative they have in mind” – an unfortunate reality that can apply to anyone. women who have been seen in sexually vulnerable situations by the public, intentionally or not. With a bit of luck Pam & Tommy will help continue this cultural conversation about how we have abused women involved in lustful situations in the past and to prevent this from happening again in the future. The show will certainly ask audiences to ask themselves what they would do if the same thing happened today.

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