I live for moments of ironic incongruity, so you can imagine how amused I was when, yesterday, various celebrity gossip sites posted the following pictures of Pamela Anderson -- one-woman brand-maker for Playboy, Stuff, GQ, Baywatch, V.I.P. and numerous other my-boobs-move-media devices -- reading Unmarketable: Brandalism, Copyfighting, Mocketing and the Erosion of Integrity, by the brilliant and wry WIMN"s Voices blogger Anne Elizabeth Moore:
On principle, I'm not going to link back to the various celeb-trashing, whore-joke-trading sites where these pictures first appeared. But the trashy, "Why's she reading when she should be applying medicated ointment?" tone of most of the comments accompanying these pictures on those sites points to that volatile mix of lust and hostility our culture reserves for the women we prop up as sex symbols. Even when Pam Anderson, whose career has traded on the "ditzy blond" stereotype, decides to do something worthwhile with her time (say, for example, digging into an intellectually rigorous exploration of the commercial infiltration and co-optation of marketing into nearly every aspect of independent culture, as Unmarketable offers), entertainment writers and blog readers still relate to her as if she should never try to be anything more than a staple for low-brow punchlines peddled by Comedy Central boys. Let Pammy read and lay off the slut jokes, why don'tcha?
Yet I admit that the cognitive dissonance of this little pop cultural moment doesn't escape me. I mean, it's not like the former Baywatch babe is actually the bubblehead she pretends to be -- she's quite active in animal rights causes, for one -- so her book list pick isn't really all that out of the ordinary. But, be honest: wouldn't this picture have made more intuitive sense if we were to swap out Unmarketable with, say, the latest copy of US Weekly, Lucky or some other who's-screwing-who-who's-buying-what rag?
What do you think? Is this an unlikely yet fabulous example of an indy activist/journalist reaching way beyond the choir, or (as some have guessed, though I can't imagine why) a staged photo opp? Comments welcome below, so long as they're about Pam, the book and/or the media... thanks in advance for avoiding gratuitous implant jokes...
This post originally appeared at WIMN"s Voices: A Group Blog on Women and the Media, a project of Women In Media & News, the national women's media analysis, education and advocacy group. To send WIMN blog tips, to organize a multi-media lecture presentation with Jennifer L. Pozner for your college, high school or community group, or to get more information about media activism, email info [at] wimnonline [dot] org. To subscribe to WIMN's free media alert list, see the Action Center at http://www.wimnonline.org/action/.