Nowadays, seeing sex tapes popping up on porno sites seems almost common. I won’t name which celebrities it’s happened to, but you can do a good Google search to find out. Hulk Hogan practically took down a media company over a leaked sex tape.
But it all started in the late 1990s when a video between Pamela Anderson, the buxom blonde from Baywatch and Barb Wire, and her husband, Tommy Lee, drummer for Motley Crue, surfaced. We all heard about the films Bob Crane, of Hogan’s Heroes fame, did with women he met in cities as he was performing dinner theater around America.
Sometimes, there is some decency among the smut. After she was acquitted for the murder of her daughter, Caylee, Casey Anthony was offered a deal to appear in porno before backlash caused the company to rescind the offer. There was the infamous sex tape of Alexis Arquette, a transgendered woman, who had appeared in Pulp Fiction and the 1992 version of Of Mice and Men. It was purchased by a porno site with the purpose of destroying it. Arquette had died shortly before this tape surfaced.
But some people have no decency. Pam & Tommy is about those people who don’t have decency. The 1990s were a crazy time. The Reagan/Bush Administration was over. The Cold War ended. Bill Clinton was President and even his own sexual exploits were making news. And most of Americans didn’t think too highly of Anderson (played here by Lily James) nor Lee (played by Sebastian Stan). Even though the tape was obtained illegally and others were profiting off it, I remember the general consensus of Middle America was Anderson and Lee probably shouldn’t have made it in the first place.
The movie begins with a lowly down-on-his-luck construction worker, Rand Gauthier (Seth Rogen in a sympathetic role that I’m guessing is more fiction than fact) who, himself, also appeared in porno movies as did his wife, Erica (Taylor Schilling). Contracted to redo a bedroom for Lee, Rand finds himself cheated out of money after Lee repeatedly wants changes but doesn’t offer extra money for the expenses. Unable to be assertive enough at first to demand money, Rand and his fellow workers are fired when he walks into a bathroom where Anderson is getting dressed thinking Lee was there.
When he tries to go back for his tools, Lee pulls a shotgun on him saying the tools are compensation for the mess his bedroom was left in. So, Rand decides to steal a safe he saw of Lee’s. In that safe, he pawns items for money. But finds a Hi-8 video tape that he takes to Uncle Miltie (Nick Offerman playing Ron Swanson if he was a sleazy porno filmmaker), who is involved in the adult entertainment industry.
They find themselves unlucky to find any porno company, even the bargain basement ones, willing to do business because of legal reasons, obviously. Without the consent of Anderson nor Lee, everyone would be sued out of the the San Fernando Valley. But then, Rand gets the idea to use the Internet as they can reroute the distribution through a Canadian address. Oh, they also get the financial backing of organized crime. Andrew “Dice” Clay has a nice cameo as a Mafia crime boss.
Two wrongs don’t make a right. Lee may be portrayed as a scumbag and the tabloids at the time were full of scandals of his. But Rand also did the wrong thing by stealing it and profiting. In many ways, it shows how hard things must be for people in southern California who interact with celebrities who expect to be treated like royalty. But we all have to take the higher ground some time.
So far, the series is four episodes in as of this posting, but it’s been a wild ride of 1990s pop culture, outrageous debauchery similar to that shown in Netflix’s The Dirt, which was about Motley Crue’s start up to the late 1990s. There’s even a talking penis. Yes, you read that correct. If you don’t know anything about the tape, Lee was very much endowed, despite covered in tattoos, which at the time wasn’t taboo. (I remember watching the tape with others in a dorm room at Brannen Hall at Georgia Southern. When one of the co-eds saw Lee, she said, “Yuck!”)
But for a series like this, you need a talking penis. There’s even some focus on the gender biased. Anderson is considered eye-candy on Baywatch. She works hard on a scene only to have it cut before filming. Later, she has to stand among many people, mostly men, as they look at how revealing the bottom of her swimsuit can be to get it pass the censors but just enough to tease the horny-boy viewers. Anderson also points out the differences to Lee when she tells him that as a man, he’ll get high-fives and pats on the back from other men for making a sex tape. But Anderson will be looked down on by conservatives and leered on by perverts and creeps.
It makes you wonder why we treat people like this. When the sex tape became mainstream, The Jerry Springer Show was popular where women were fighting over themselves for cheating men. Anderson thought Lee was just wanting to make an intimate video. Maybe Lee did too. It was in a safe. To the best of my knowledge, Anderson didn’t do anything that other actresses didn’t. She showed a little skin in silly movies and TV shows for men only to be called a slut. But if a man shows skin, he’s considered sexy and atrractive.
Hopefully, people will change their perspectives more.
What do you think? Please comment.