Pity poor Pamela Anderson. When the bubble-headed bleach-blonde Baywatch babe appears on camera, her physical appearance is an ample substitute for an intelligent message. But in print, with nothing but words to support her, Pam’s assets fall flat. Annoyed that NASCAR star Dale Earnhardt Jr. has decided to lend his name and likeness to a fried-chicken restaurant chain, Pam went on the attack today with nothing in her corner but words — and the letterhead of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA).
"When you take a multimillion-dollar endorsement from a company," she wrote Earnhardt (in a letter released to the media), "you must also take some responsibility for the company’s practices." We could make the same point — and a few others — about Pammy’s relationship with PETA. Anderson’s Hollywood handlers might want to advise her that hooking up with a group that funds violent extremists, consistently opposes life-saving medical research, and cavalierly traumatizes millions of children might not be as good a career move as she thinks.
As it happens, Anderson’s not exactly the world’s most consistent animal-rights devotee. She has fronted PETA’s anti-leather campaign for years, but sported a chest-to-toe leather outfit (in the film Barb Wire) when a paycheck was at stake. Last year she bragged to the Alameda (CA) Times-Star about her animal-rights campaigning and "the difference I’ve made with animal testing." Yet she headlined a 2002 fundraising event for the American Liver Foundation, even though it funds and conducts research using animals (PETA even complains about it). Pam, you see, has Hepatitis C, a devastating liver disease. Apparently she supports animal testing for her own disease, but everyone else is out of luck.
Last year Winnipeg Free Press columnist Tom Oleson saw an advertisement featuring the PETA pinup, and put the whole phenomenon in its proper perspective:
Pamela Anderson is not someone whose message should be ignored any more than my French poodle’s opinion should be ignored, especially when Pam delivers it wearing a lettuce-leaf bikini … I am not sure where she stands on the war against Iraq — although I suspect she would probably be against it, what with the threat that it poses to cows and pigs and sheep and chickens.
At present, of course, it’s the chickens that concern Pam. Last year she complained that modern birds are "so top-heavy that they can barely walk." The irony thickens: Anderson’s own breast implants have left her artificially top-heavy as well. And the silicone gel used in her augmentation, as well as the anesthesia used during the operation, were both tested on animals.
Pamela Anderson is by no means the only hypocritical celebrity cavorting in a PETA T-shirt. In March, pop star Pink told MTV: "I’m a proud member of PETA and I got leather boots on my feet, you know what I’m saying?" Australian PETA-phile and supermodel Sarah Jane lists her favorite foods as "raw meat, lamb kidney, lamb curry and haggis." And countless opportunistic VIPs protest for PETA one day, and wear an AIDS ribbon the next — forgetting PETA president and co-founder Ingrid Newkirk’s words: "Even if animal research resulted in a cure for AIDS, we’d be against it."