Entertainment

‘Pam & Tommy’ Review: The Internet Is For Porn

Episode 4 of Hulu’s “Pam & Tommy” begins when the pamsextape.com website loads onto a mid-’90s IBM desktop computer – flamboyant typography screams “PAMELA’S HARDCORE SEX VIDEO,” enticing photos of Pamela Anderson and her husband Tommy Lee are loading one pixel at a time.

After watching that scene, I entered the URL into my browser to make a report. Surprise! The site is Still there, download faster now, tap the “BUY HERE” button and all. But its links now redirect you to the homepage of Annapurna Pictures, the production company behind the limited series, which has preserved the site like some sort of UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Like that site, “Pam & Tommy,” which begins Wednesday on Hulu, is something both old and new. It is partly a caper in the world of picaresque porn, in the spirit of the pop culture of the decade in which it was established, like “The People vs. Larry Flynt” and “Boogie Nights”. And part of it is a 21st-century rethinking of how that era treated young women, like “Impeachment: America’s Crime Story,” “Framed Britney Spears” and even “Golden Jacket.”

Put the two sides together and you’ll have a gripping blend of heist comedy, love story and cautionary tale, whose clashing parts offer a dark comic portrait of an era and a macabre preview of another era: the total, panoramic future of the internet, arriving at 28.8 kilobits per second.

Like so many bad stories, this one begins with a home renovation. In 1995, Rand Gauthier (Seth Rogen), an occasional porn actor turned contractor, is hired by Tommy (Sebastian Stan) to build a sex Xanadu complete with mirrors and strippers, which is then denied fired and forced to pay thousands of dollars. The opening scenes – Rand’s hammer hitting the raucous sounds of the newlyweds – set up a directorial tone as delicate as Tommy’s squishy hammocks.

To get revenge, Rand stole the couple’s safe, which contained the now-infamous homemade porn tape. He’s looking for a contact in the porn business (Nick Offerman, his performance is so perfectly greasy you’ll need soap to wash it off) who realizes they have something to say. valuable but not monetized: No one will sell it.

None, that is, until a visit to the fledgling World Wide Web to purchase plumbing supplies made Rand realize he had access to an anonymous, global electronics marketplace. . Faster than you can say http-colon-slash, a business is born and a media frenzy explodes.

In the mind of Rand, a follower of the world’s religions, he was a righteous instrument of karma. But what he was doing was the equivalent of what we now call revenge porn – an offense primarily aimed at a woman, not the man Rand purposefully turned around. (After all, that site doesn’t advertise “TOMMY HARD SEX VIDEOS.”)

Ultimately, “Pam & Tommy,” created by Robert Siegel, is the story of Pam above all. But it takes time to get there, either its boldest game or its biggest failure, or possibly both.

The first one focuses on Rand – less of a villain than schmo, an equally fierce mullet – and on a parody combination of Pam and Tommy. The “Baywatch” star embodies the ideal sex bomb beach, and drummer Mötley Crüe is a captivating caricature of swaggering masculinity. It’s like watching two action figures come to life and mate.

At first, it feels like “Pam & Tommy” is trying to exploit and feels like it is superior too. It invites you to view the whole thing the way many people of the time did (especially late-night hosts like Jay Leno, played by Adam Ray), as a goofball tabloid in which a pair of trash celebrities are exposed. When “jokes write themselves,” as one “Tonight” writer puts it here, they tend not to be great jokes.

But then it took a turn, leading me to believe that the yuk-it-up’s original tone was at least partially intentional: It began to treat its cartoons like people feeling pain. really.

This is especially true for Pam, thanks in part to James’s stealthy performance of complexity. In a story that likes to go big and wide (Stan plays Tommy as a toy that blows away liquid), she finds a flair in a woman that Hollywood and the media want to make into an animated love story. sex.

On the set of “Baywatch,” when the producers cut her off and bothered her with adjusting her swimsuit, Pam smiled, nodded, and teased her path to the agency. reason more. When the video went public, she was savvy enough to know that what was merely an embarrassment for Tommy – maybe even a publicity push – was far more devastating for her.

She also realized that his rash decision to sue Penthouse magazine for publishing stills from the video would only expose her more. The best episode of the series, written by Sarah Gubbins and directed by Hannah Fidell, interjects her humiliating demeaning in the case with her being discovered as a model and Playboy Playmate, played by Hugh Hefner ( Mike Seely) warns against those who want to turn her into the “Pamela they want. “The stealing and trading of her most intimate moments is a prime example.

In many ways, “Pam & Tommy” is Malibu’s cousin to last year’s “Impeachment,” about Monica Lewinsky. It’s also a story about how the nascent website helped make tabloid stories leap to major media in the ’90s and revisited a “sex scandal” that really was one. High-tech hoax.

There are a lot of low hangings Nostalgic 90s in “Pam & Tommy.” (There was a time, kids, when “sex tapes” really ice.) But there’s also a distinct idea of ​​paradoxical sexuality in the “Private Parts” and “There’s Something About Mary” eras, when popular culture become more lewd and open about sex but still more limited in terms of time that women and men grant.

The result is a more erratic, less realistic story than “impeachment” but one whose absurdism leaps forward to bring its era to life. It also has more creative, realistic effects, where as Tommy argues with his own penis – mentally voiced by Jason Mantzoukas – it will twirl and squirm like something out of the blue. remake of “Dumbo”.

How well it all works depends in part on how much you believe a feminist media can coexist with talking genitalia. “Pam & Tommy” is inconsistent in tone or argument, but it is always entertaining. It invites you in with rope-twisting comedy, then, as Pam wraps up her visit to the good sports show “Tonight” with Leno looming over her, tells her one last word: “It’s not funny.”

https://www.nytimes.com/2022/02/01/arts/television/pam-and-tommy-review.html ‘Pam & Tommy’ Review: The Internet Is For Porn

Fry Electronics Team

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