The Limited Portrayals of Female Sexuality and Sexualization in 'Minx' and 'Pam & Tommy'
Television series 'Minx' (HBO) and 'Pam & Tommy' (Hulu) depict sexualization and attempts at reclamation, but the female characters (and real women) involved deserve to exist as complicated beings.
Midway through both of the television series Minx (HBO) and Pam & Tommy (Hulu), our two respective female leads end up uncomfortably cornered on two different late night talk shows. Minx’s Joyce Prigger (Ophelia Lovibond) is seated between an anti-porn feminist, grilling her on her decision to move into porn, and her publisher, the sleazy Doug Frenetti (Jake Johnson), who is partaking in some boorish talk in hopes of increasing magazine sales. Joyce is a gung-ho Vassar educated woman of the seventies so desperate to be the editor of her own publication that she has eventually become willing to “degrade” herself, as she sees it, by beginning to work in the pornographic magazine industry. In a similar interview scene, we see Pam & Tommy’s Pamela Anderson (Lily James) — a 1990s superstar celebrity — sitting next to Jay Leno (Adam Ray). She is on the precipice of breaking her almost-constant sweetheart facade as Leno jokes about the leaked and mass-distributed sex tape of her and her husband, rockstar Tommy Lee (Sebastian Stan). Pamela’s face falls and she flatly and firmly describes the event as horrible, devastating, a violation.
The notion of reclamation, of taking back narratives, especially regarding female sexuality, is a current fixture of our cultural zeitgeist. Same as ever, as the media catches wind of this trend, it is beginning to try and capitalize upon it, attempting at tales of reclamation and empowerment in progressive packaging. HBO Max’s Minx is a semi-fictional series about a 1970s feminist who ends up in bed with the porn industry by becoming the editor for the first ever nudie mag made for women. Hulu’s Pam & Tommy is a retelling of the leaking and mass distribution of Pamela Anderson and Tommy Lee’s private honeymoon sex tape. As Sarah Marr points out in her brief piece regarding the release of the Pam & Tommy trailer, these types of stories are part of a trend of “reframing an infamous moment in a famous woman’s life from contemporary context.”
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