Pamela Des Barres says Penny Lane’s overdose in “Almost Famous” is “horribly misogynistic”.
Cameron Crowe’s “Almost Famous” celebrates its 20th anniversary this month, but not everyone is head over heels in love with the coming-of-age classic. Rock n ‘roll groupie Pamela Des Barres was one of Kate Hudson’s biggest inspirations for Penny Lane, along with fellow groupie Pennie Lane Trumbull and singer Bebe Buell. Hudson would earn an Oscar nomination for Penny Lane, but “Almost Famous” remains a point of contention above all for the woman who inspired the portrayal of the actress. In an interview with Vulture, Des Barres says she was “actually stunned” when she first saw the movie considering how much Penny Lane looked like her.
“This character was basically more me than Bebe Buell or Pennie Trumbull. She looked a lot more like me. Barres said, noting that her problem was that Crowe never consulted her about the project. Barres says Penny Lane was “stolen” and “snatched” from her considering Hudson told her she read her book, “I’m With the Band”, for research and hung pictures of Des Barres in his dressing room.
Des Barres wrote a film script based on his life, but “Almost Famous” and the popularity of Penny Lane “kept me from selling my film.” The actress added: “I confronted [Crowe] after that movie came out, he basically fired me. But I saw him a few years ago and he kind of apologized. He actually said, “What can I do to catch up? I said, ‘I should have been a consultant.’ “
As for the film itself, Des Barres doesn’t like the moment when Hudson’s Penny Lane corrects the film’s protagonist for calling her a groupie. Penny Lane says, “We are band-aids. We don’t have sex with these guys. We support music. We inspire music. We are here because of the music.
“It’s a pussy line,” Des Barres said. “And ‘pussy’ in a bad way. I hate that the word is used in a negative way, but anyway – [Penny Lane] didn’t own himself, didn’t own groupie-dom and what that really means… I’ve been trying to redeem the word “groupie” for most of my life.
However, “Almost Famous,” according to Des Barres’ biggest sin is showing that Penny Lane is almost dying of a drug overdose after being rejected by a man. Des Barres told Vulture that the plot point was “a horribly misogynistic look at what a muse-groupie is.”
“It made me so angry,” she continued. “This character, the groupie as it is portrayed, is pathetic. I knew all the major groupies at the height of groupiedom. None of them would have done that. There was always someone else coming to town. It really put me off. No true music-loving groupie goddess would do such a thing.
Head to Vulture to read Des Barres’ “Almost Famous” interview in its entirety.
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