Of course, Pamela: A Love Story is not a documentary like Netflix claims. It's an image film for Pamela Anderson. Or, as she puts it: her story in her own words. Anderson wants narrative control, as is fashionable. Think of Harry and Meghan. But the young royals are a current phenomenon. Pamela Anderson reports from a forgotten world. A world where Hugh Heffner's "Playboy" mansion was still the reason for an MTV series instead of MeToo research. In the 90s, Anderson, previously known as Playmate, became a worldwide star and sex symbol with "Baywatch". A decade in which Victoria Beckham should (and did) get weighed on a talk show after the birth of her son. What can an icon of that time tell us today?
In the film, Anderson stands in the garden of her family home on Vancouver Island, Canada, where she grew up, wearing a straw hat and holding roses. It is a country idyll that contradicts the stories of her youth: her father is an alcoholic, the babysitter abuses her. Anderson does not say exactly what happened. She was raped when she was twelve. Shame haunted her until she became a Playmate and regained control of her sexuality.
The themes of the film are those of our time. A MeToo and self-empowerment story is told. At one point, Anderson points to a childhood photo of himself and says, "In everything I do, I visualize them." It's a heroic journey of the "inner child." An ancient storytelling technique meets the latest coaching method in a world obsessed with its mental hygiene. The USA adventure failed her. She loses the lawsuit for the illegally published sex tape of her and her first husband Tommy Lee. Career and marriage break up.
But it's not the end. Broadway is calling, more than 20 years after her retirement. Anderson is set to play Roxy in Chicago. The play will be performed in 2022 and received good reviews. Pamela Anderson is back and showing a lot again. The film and autobiography will soon be followed by a home series in which she renovates her grandparents' house. It's a new beginning in the old.
This article was first published in February 2023.