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Entertainment value found in 'Pam & Tommy' isn't worth its issues with consent

Lily James might transform into Pamela Anderson for "Pam & Tommy," but the show's issues with consent are too difficult to overlook. – Photo by Pam & Tommy on Hulu / Instagram

Lily James and Sebastian Stan have received lots of praise for transforming into Pamela Anderson and Tommy Lee in Hulu’s new drama series "Pam & Tommy." The show breaks down the infamous sex tape between the two and the unwanted distribution of the video.

This eight-episode mini-series follows the journey of Anderson, star of "Baywatch," and Lee, a member of band Mötley Crüe, from their meeting to their marriage — the two tied the knot after dating for only four days. But there's more to the “love story” Hollywood has attempted to portray, and "Pam & Tommy" only scratches the surface.

Lee is a convicted domestic abuser who's also known for his history of alcohol abuse, and the viewers of this show are overlooking his acts of love-bombing Anderson into their marriage when they watch the show. When the tape was released and sold, Anderson was slut-shamed — as many women who film themselves are — and Lee was praised and respected by men.

While Anderson and Lee's tape was leaked before the rise of the internet, "Pam & Tommy" thematically brings its audience into the rise of internet porn and the piracy of something that was meant to be private.

The issue of promiscuity is something "Pam & Tommy" attempts to address, bringing light to the facts surrounding the scandal. But in making this show, the producers and directors neglected to take into consideration Anderson’s autonomy.

A source from Anderson claimed she didn't want Hulu to go ahead with this show. Since she didn't give her approval, this show is exploiting her once again and invading her privacy for the entertainment of the public.

Anderson says she has never watched the tape and has also said it isn't a sex tape, but instead a compilation of nude videos of her and Lee on vacation. Lee, on the other hand, has made minimal comments on the making of the show, but he told sources that he has given approval of the series — after it was created. It's completely ironic that a show that aims to tackle the importance of consent refused to get the consent of its titular characters prior to its creation.

Lack of consent isn't unfamiliar in the entertainment industry. There's great ambiguity in portraying sexual abuse and romance, and "Pam & Tommy" does not stray far from this line.

Lee is portrayed as overly egotistical and confident, and his support for the show just shows he isn't shamed by the leaking of his tape. But, Anderson is portrayed as meek, submissive and worried, and her refusal to support the show only proves how it might bring up some painful memories.

Anderson and Lee’s private lives are being brought into the light without any prior written consent. This isn't to say the story depicted in the mini-series is bad, or that the actors didn't do a good job. But "Pam & Tommy" is a story about exploitation, and the lack of consent from Anderson is only emphasizing the exploitation she's experienced in her life.

The foundation of this show is based on a violating, leaked tape and a misconstrued love story — that's it. The fact that the show is based on rumors and tabloids rather than autobiographical stories makes the lesson of consent that is preached in "Pam & Tommy" much less impactful.

Many biopics including "Rocketman" and Netflix's recent "tick, tick…BOOM!" lay their roots of the writing in interviews by Elton John and Jonathan Larson, respectively.

An example of an appropriate approach to biopics would be "I, Tonya" as the former figure skater was involved in the production process. Tonya Harding sat down with producers and screenwriters so they could get an accurate feel for the story and write the script in a way that paid homage to her story.

Other than supporting our Rutgers alumnus Stan, Mason Gross School of the Arts Class of 2005, watching "Pam & Tommy" is a decision one should think a little more about.

This isn't to say you can't watch "Pam & Tommy," but perhaps think twice about watching a show whose writer’s room violated the privacy of the woman it's about. Despite #MeToo and the empowerment of women in the media today, Hollywood is miles away from a perfect world that prioritizes supporting women instead of victimizing them.


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