Reclaiming Her Narrative: Pamela Anderson announces Netflix documentary

On the 2nd of March, Pamela Anderson announced she would be taking her story into her own hands, following a recent dramatisation of her experiences. What can we expect from this new production, and what does it mean for Anderson?

Heather Adams
16th March 2022
Image: IMDB
‘Not a victim, but a survivor.’ In a recent Instagram post, Pamela Anderson has announced (in a handwritten note) that she will be partnering with Netflix to tell her story her way. Anderson is personally executive producing the project, her son (Brandon Lee) is serving as a producer and the filmmakers have been exclusively granted access to archival footage, personal journals, and Anderson herself, thus allowing Anderson to reclaim her highly exploited personal story.

This announcement comes at a time of renewed interest in Pamela Anderson, especially her tumultuous relationship with her rocker ex-husband Tommy Lee, thanks to the recent release of the Hulu/Disney+ series Pam and Tommy. The series, starring Lily James and Sebastian Anderson as Pamela and Tommy respectively, was highly anticipated so it is no surprise that the show has proven to be popular.

Anderson shared this post to her 1.4 million Instagram followers. Image: Instagram @PamelaAnderson

Pam and Tommy has been marketed as some sort of feminist, ‘post-Me Too’ retelling of Anderson and Lee’s story, presenting the protagonists as victims with whom we should sympathise.  Although the series has good intentions, it is missing one crucial necessity: Pamela Anderson’s permission. The show goes to great lengths to show how Pamela Anderson suffered far more than her then-husband after the tape was leaked due to the prevalence of misogyny and was exploited throughout her entire life. Nevertheless, the show recounts the story of an exploited woman by further exploiting her.

Lily James recently told Variety that “these violations of privacy happen way too often and the way the media responds… is often so awful, particularly toward women”. Yet she still participated in a project that is violating Anderson’s privacy. Even though Anderson has still not directly commented on the series, people close to her have expressed their disdain over the series, with her close friend Courtney Love saying, “My heart goes out to Pammy. Further causing her complex trauma.”

Although the Hulu series has good intentions, it is missing one crucial necessity: Pamela Anderson’s permission.

It is possible to centre a show around a victim of exploitation without further exploiting them. For example, 2021’s Impeachment: American Crime Story details how Monica Lewinsky was taken advantage of by Bill Clinton whilst working at the White House when she was just 22. This series differs; however, from Pam and Tommy, as Lewinsky is closely involved in the project through her role as a producer.   

Hopefully, Anderson’s documentary will provide her with a similar opportunity: the chance to tell her side of the story without the risk of being exploited once again, which happens to women all too often. Anderson is finally in control of her own narrative. 

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