The Eyes of Tammy Faye and a Complicated Rebranding
This chapter examines Tammy Faye Messner’s efforts to market herself to her camp appeal following the 2000 release of the documentary film The Eyes of Tammy Faye (TEOTF). Produced and directed by a pair of campy fans, TEOTF brought the first wave of campy fandom’s mix of ironic humor and genuine admiration to the American mainstream, but with a dulled critical edge. Most significantly, whereas earlier campy fans often criticized Tammy Faye’s religious authenticity, TEOTF suggested that she was an authentic Christian, based on questionable claims regarding her relationships with suffering gay men. Tammy Faye would subsequently rebrand herself to match TEOTF’s representation, which encouraged a second wave of positive camp attention and led to her enshrinement as a gay ally, despite her continued conservative approach to sex, gender, and family issues.