Nancy gets hit one time and the world shits. For me it was all the time.
December 7, 2017 1:39 PM   Subscribe

The new movie I, Tonya offers the complete story of Tonya Harding, a woman who was "a punchline, her name alone providing a bitter shorthand for scandal." According to Vogue: "The result is a dark (more like pitch-black) comedy that makes you feel uneasy about laughing, a mockumentary that casts doubt on the mechanisms by which documentaries—or journalism more generally—purport to enshrine the truth, a demented, doomed love story that’s mostly about abuse." The Roger Ebert web site: 3-1/2 stars.
posted by Melismata (65 comments total) 23 users marked this as a favorite
 


I was just leaving middle-school when this happened. It was one of those flash-bulb moments from my youth that I'll not ever forget (Challenger, Clinton/Lewinski, O.J. Simpson trial, Columbine,). This film looks to be really interesting.
posted by Fizz at 2:03 PM on December 7 [5 favorites]


This is a very interesting sounding film - but can we take a moment to really appreciate this (from the Vogue article linked above):

"Thanks to Lorena Bobbitt, we’ve gained a new way to give men their due/ Act like a chauvinist pig and you get snipped like a Bobbitt in two/ A snip of the cleavers he-ee-ee-ere/ A snip of the cleavers the-ee-ee-ere/ I’m telling you slobs, your thingamabobs are itching for kitchenware!”"
posted by faineg at 2:05 PM on December 7 [2 favorites]


I remember watching the Winter Olympics when Harding broke her skate lace. I was in a dorm with other teenage girls, and everybody, regardless of level of sports-caring, had wanted to see her skate. It had all been too strange and wild to ignore. (Also, there wasn't enough internet yet to tell you what you wanted to know the next day.)

Whether I believed Tonya about anything, I don't remember. But I do remember feeling a terrible pity at the sight of her weeping face. I could be a pretty judgmental kid, but I knew that here was someone who had worked her whole life, even harder than she should have had to, and was seeing her world crumble around her.
posted by Countess Elena at 2:08 PM on December 7 [21 favorites]


Countess Elena, that recording of her weeping in pain is something I'll never forget and looking back it feels even more exploitative that a camera managed to get in there and record that. That moment being broadcast and looped for all the world to see. It's pretty fucked up.
posted by Fizz at 2:12 PM on December 7 [4 favorites]


Thanks to Lorena Bobbitt, I ended up watching John Wayne Bobbitt: Un-cut at a festival called "Porn 'til Dawn" featuring a Traces Of Death pizza-eating contest. Life is amazing.
posted by grumpybear69 at 2:14 PM on December 7 [4 favorites]


Growing up, I remember thinking that the whole thing was the most Clackamas thing ever.
posted by Dr. Twist at 2:15 PM on December 7 [10 favorites]


I too watched the 1994 Winter Olympics in a dorm with teenage girls (and teenage me and another dude friend) and I basically remember the entire room's shift from "ha, we're watching this because we've been making 'WHY ME?' jokes since we all got back from winter break and need to see what our next punchline is" to sympathy and sadness and outrage at the exploitation like it was yesterday. Even though most of us were rooting for Tonya already anyway, we realized we were also part of the problem. Being 19 is weird.

In other words, I'm pretty excited about this movie.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 2:23 PM on December 7 [5 favorites]


There's also the Shondaland piece, I(mperfect Victim), Tonya by Kendra James.
posted by The Wrong Kind of Cheese at 2:26 PM on December 7 [4 favorites]


the unbelievably dense rich late 80s/early 90s aesthetic of the movie is an appalling assault upon my senses. sebastian stan's moustache is a war crime.
posted by poffin boffin at 2:29 PM on December 7 [9 favorites]


I was surprised to find out, all these years later, that both Kerrigan and Harding were from blue-collar, working class backgrounds. What seemed like a narrative about class was actually a narrative about looks.
posted by mrmurbles at 2:47 PM on December 7 [28 favorites]


I'll chip in here that The Price of Gold is also well worth a watch if you enjoy seeing previously one-dimensional tabloid fodder suddenly lurch into messy real-life three dimensions. I can't attest to its veracity, but, man, does it tell a tale.
posted by 1f2frfbf at 3:04 PM on December 7


Supposedly written for the film but not used, a new song by Sufjan Stevens - Tonya Harding
posted by rjd at 3:35 PM on December 7 [2 favorites]


I lost count of the number of times Tonya is physically attacked in this movie. It was shocking, but the rest of it was really funny.

The writer confirmed that this woman went through hell since childhood and was almost certainly manipulated and lied to by the people who hurt Nancy Kerrigan. I am confident the reporting would have focused on Harding's husband and his goons instead of skater girl catfight! if it happened today.

If you like To Die For, you'll like this.
posted by Freecola at 4:45 PM on December 7 [2 favorites]


From 1994: I was a Tonya Harding Lookalike [NYT]
posted by Mchelly at 4:46 PM on December 7 [1 favorite]


I was surprised to find out, all these years later, that both Kerrigan and Harding were from blue-collar, working class backgrounds. What seemed like a narrative about class was actually a narrative about looks.

This is true to a great extent, but Kerrigan could pass from a very early age and was packaged accordingly, including veneers once she climbed high enough in the results. She skated once in a while at my state recreation home rink in the mid-eighties and to my (and my fellow figure skaters who were also blue collar and lower to middle to poor class) she definitely read as fitting in at the Skating Club of Boston where she trained (we would not have).

The USFSA favored her because she could fit what marketers were looking for. Tonya absolutely did not (Kerrigan seemed pleasant enough back then-just quiet- but we all related to Harding instead because we thought she was way more like us and my friends whose parents worked as janitors and gas station attendants).

previous discussion about this topic, especially the looks/class issue.

People nowadays gripe about the new points scoring system (IJS) that was implemented over the years because it's highly technical and confusing for casual viewers, but it results in greater transparency and far more objectivity in how judges score skaters than the old 6.0 system that was embarrassingly subjective. Tonya would have faced the discrimination in marks to the extent she did back then if she'd been competing today instead.

(and we just may see another American woman perform a triple axel at this year's Olympics if Mirai Nagasu is named to the team. )
posted by stagewhisper at 4:52 PM on December 7 [16 favorites]


a new song by Sufjan Stevens - Tonya Harding

Works better to Tonya's 1991 US Championships routine.
posted by scruss at 5:18 PM on December 7 [2 favorites]


I was surprised to find out, all these years later, that both Kerrigan and Harding were from blue-collar, working class backgrounds. What seemed like a narrative about class was actually a narrative about looks.

Yeah, Nancy’s family had its share of violence. Like, her brother kind of killed their father.
posted by Melismata at 5:20 PM on December 7


The previous discussion link above is discussing an article that, to this day, is one of the best articles I've read. Ever. Tonya Harding, Nancy Kerrigan, and the Spectacles of Female Power and Pain:
Tonya was tiny, but her presence on the ice was powerful, undeniably muscular, and impossible to ignore. Commentators like to talk about skaters “fighting for each jump”; Tonya seemed to fight the jumps themselves. Later, much would be made in both the press and in parody about Tonya’s thighs: they were huge! They were so fat! How could she pretend to be pretty, or even feminine? But they were, at the end of the day, nothing more or less than the thighs of an athlete. They were thick and powerful because she needed them to be that way to launch herself into the air. When Midori jumped, she seemed to float like a leaf borne on the wind. Tonya, Time magazine wrote during the scandal, “bullies gravity.” They meant it as a criticism of her skating, and, by extension, of her, but one wonders: did this have to be a bad thing? What was inherently wrong with a spectacle of female power in which you could almost taste the athlete’s sweat, and feel her desire, her soreness, and her determination to leave the ground? She wasn’t artful, but it wasn’t her job to make art; she wasn’t soft and feminine, but it wasn’t her job to be those things, to sit still, or to smile passively while the cameras lingered on her face. It was her job to jump and spin, to tear the ice with her speed, to fight and fall and get up and fight again.
I can't wait to see this movie.
posted by triggerfinger at 5:21 PM on December 7 [23 favorites]


The previous discussion link above is discussing an article that, to this day, is one of the best articles I've read.

I posted that link to the blue and I still think about it occasionally. It's a very powerful examination of class and beauty in women's sports.
But if Nancy got to be a working-class hero worthy of a Horatio Alger story, Tonya had to be pressed into service as her counterpart, and as one of America’s most reviled demographics: white trash. There seemed to be a greasy, eventually shameful pleasure that came with both writing and reading about not just Tonya’s gaffes or problems but the basic facts of her existence. [...] No matter how journalists added up the details, however, they all seemed to reveal the same motive: Tonya was going nowhere fast, and she had decided to take Nancy with her.

She started competing under the name Tonya Harding-Gillooly, then divorced her husband in 1993, only to reconcile with him soon after. Later, when it came time to fit her life story into the scandal’s narrative, journalists delighted in using this detail as proof of Tonya’s tackiness. Despite her allegations of abuse, despite the restraining orders and 911 calls she placed, and despite her claims that she feared for her life both before and after the assault on Nancy, few phrases had quite the same cachet, or were quite so gleefully suggestive as white-trash lifestyle, as live-in ex-husband.
posted by lalex at 6:26 PM on December 7 [4 favorites]


I saw this movie at TIFF a couple months ago. I had tears in my eyes when Tonya landed the triple axel... and when she got beaten by her mother and her husband over and over and over... but Allison Janney steals every scene.
posted by cranberrymonger at 7:07 PM on December 7 [1 favorite]


Man, that was a rough time for my parents. We lived where Tonya was from AND our last name is Harding. My parents got continual phone calls harassing them, offering to pray, offering legal assistance, threats. Those calls went on for at least a year. They finally unlisted their number, but it was too little too late. I had moved across the country, but as soon as people knew my name and that I was from Oregon, they assumed I was her sister. We were all so relieved when the story eventually lost steam.
posted by Cloudberry Sky at 9:11 PM on December 7 [2 favorites]


I am looking forward to seeing this, I always rooted for Tanya Harding over Nancy Kerrigan, I think most women did! I didn't know much about Kerrigan but the persona they made for her in the media was nauseating and did her no good.

Margot Robbie is just perfect to play Harding too, I'm glad they waited until now. And so funny that Alison Jainey is in in this, too bad Denise Richards couldn't play Kerrigan as we all know that Drop Dead Gorgeous was a riff on this whole situation.
posted by fshgrl at 9:53 PM on December 7


My interest in the Olympics nosedived after this, the ugliness of it really destroyed the carefully crafted illusion. Then I started paying attention to other problems, the cheating, the tiny gymnast who looked malnourished, all the behind the scenes stuff to determine location, and how that looked ripe for corruption.

In a way, a very difference way, it was as bubble bursting as the Hollywood scandal today. All the smiles in the world won't change the fact that pretty much everyone in Hollywood turned looking the other way into an art form. Ugh.
posted by Beholder at 10:07 PM on December 7


I was so caught up in this drama at the time. I was on Tonya's side, Nancy always seemed like the kind of girl who picked on me in junior high, pretty and fake-sweet when adults were around but bitchy and mean when they weren't. The whole "why me???" thing made her seem annoyingly self-absorbed. And the camera kept catching her doing things like rolling her eyes and sneering which was so endearing. Having spent some time in the trailer park my own self, and usually being one to root for the underdog anyway, I wanted to see Tonya beat Nancy. In skating, I mean. Not with a stick.

I had to go look for some video:

This one shows Tonya in her best light, winning the 1991 US championship. She's so good here, and so joyful. The judges and the crowd love her. It's a little heart-breaking to watch, knowing where things are headed for her. But it shows what she was capable of at her best.

Tanya Harding's 1991 U.S. Figure Skating Championship

Contrast with her Olympic performance. She's darker here, in her red costume and too much makeup, and the broken lace incident. The contrast to the previous video is striking.

Tanya's Olympic performance (including the broken skate lace incident)

Nancy Kerrigan delivers an elegant and graceful performance:

Nancy Kerrigan's silver-medal performance

It seemed likely that Nancy's performance would take the gold. But then Oksana Baiul, this fluffy little confection of a girl with tons of personality and flirty little dance moves steals the gold with this delightful routine.

Nancy Kerrigan is not amused. Her public image begins to crumble
posted by Serene Empress Dork at 10:10 PM on December 7 [16 favorites]


noooooo I have to go to bed I can’t go down the rabbit hole of Winter Olympics videos on YouTube

Serene Empress look what you’ve donnneee
posted by Hermione Granger at 11:30 PM on December 7 [9 favorites]


jfc Nancy was so vapid
posted by Hermione Granger at 11:39 PM on December 7 [2 favorites]


Yeah, Nancy’s family had its share of violence. Like, her brother kind of killed their father.

Wait what? explain
posted by tel3path at 2:10 AM on December 8


Nancy Kerrigan's Father Dead, Brother Arrested

He was eventually found not guilty of manslaughter, but was convicted on a charge of assault and battery.

What happened with Tonya was a stark realization for me – I was a teenage girl from a "hick boondock" in Oregon too – that no matter how talented and hard-working you were, narrative mattered more than reality. It was so painful to witness; still is.
posted by fraula at 3:58 AM on December 8 [14 favorites]


Huh. This thread has made me remember acutely how much I identified then with Tonya Harding. And it's interesting how true that was for many of us. I felt quite alone in it at the time.
posted by frumiousb at 4:37 AM on December 8 [1 favorite]


Okay, by 1992 my interest in figure skating had waned and I was only watching this out of the corner of my eye.

I just watched the 1991 US free skate and I couldn’t figure out why she was supposedly getting criticism for being all crude and low-class and stuff. There’s nothing about that program that suggests anything other than the perfect blonde American princess in complete accordance with the *middle-class* bad taste of the time.

I was listening to the music and it was no worse than anyone else’s. In fact I was thinking this could just as well be a program for Rosalynn Sumners, and two seconds later the commentators say it was choreographed by the same person!

So okay, she brute-forced a couple of her jumps. BECAUSE THEY WERE REALLY HARD JUMPS! A couple of landings were a bit scrapey and tight, but overall they were beautiful! IIRC Midori Ito was also a bit brute-force and I remember not liking her much for that reason. I can’t tell if I misremember or if it’s revisionism that says otherwise, but come on.

And if she sewed that costume herself, mad props. Sewing is time consuming! Attaching sequins is hard! And that costume pretty much looks like everyone else’s, in fact I think it is pretty and suits her.

And yeah I remember at the time that she was a bit heavy handed with the blue eyeshadow once. But nobody knew how to do makeup back then, because somebody had to show you in person, and they were usually wrong. YouTube wasn’t invented in 1992 FFS.
posted by tel3path at 4:45 AM on December 8 [8 favorites]


Me: It would awesome if figure skating (and women's gymnastics) had a uniform. The simple black pants and top of the practice outfit. It would eliminate a lot of asinine criticism and wouldn't infantilize adult women. That appearance is also judged in both of these has always irritated me.

Also me: but Johnny Weeeeeiiirrrr...
posted by fluttering hellfire at 5:02 AM on December 8 [14 favorites]


When Harding landed her jumps, she was pretty much unbeatable. When she stopped landing her jumps (post 1991), she lost. A lot. It never seemed to me at the time that class & costumes & whatever had anything to do with it.
posted by JanetLand at 6:02 AM on December 8 [1 favorite]


I want to say something about picking sides though-
again, what small interactions I had with Kerrigan did not leave me with the impression she was a snobby princess in the mold that many (not all!) of the Figure Skating Club of Boston skaters fit. She seemed like a quiet, serious, focussed young lady. Also she was very good friends with Paul Wylie (they'd skated pairs before she outgrew him) and I skated summer sessions with him. He was a truly nice, funny, warm person who I couldn't imagine would be besties with a brittle shallow jerk. I think the whole saga is a tragedy and part of that is how the media (and let's face it, the USFSA) built up a particular persona/personality around Kerrigan for them to sell.
posted by stagewhisper at 8:01 AM on December 8 [10 favorites]


Yeah, the tone of some of this has been kind of insinuating stuff about Kerrigan that is really not nice. Like she deserved to get her leg bashed for being too much of a pretty princess. That kind of thinking is not what this world needs.
posted by tel3path at 8:06 AM on December 8 [15 favorites]


Also, I have to ask, the whole thing about her getting mocked for eating Taco Bell food.

She worked at a Taco Bell, didn’t she? I read that at the time, and it really amazed me, that someone could be earning a wage that was really not enough to live on, and had still managed to reach the top of a very, very expensive sport like figure skating. I couldn’t wrap my head around it.

So maybe Taco Bell got to be her favourite food, but that says bad things about her because...? Taco Bell is fast food that is cheap enough for poor people to eat, is that it? That’s why you’re supposed to hate it?

I mean, it’s a taco, containing ground beef and some stuff. It has the nutritional value of a taco, right? Neither very good for you nor having less nutritonal value than the sum of its parts. As an athlete, I suppose she needed a lot of calories to get through a day and that would be one way of getting them cheaply, with protein from the meat. And with a busy schedule, she would be tired, and inclined to eat whatever was to hand.

I ate there two years ago on a trip to Florida and it was delicious, perhaps partly because I expected it to be fast food and not some organic cuisine experience. But somehow, it’s disgusting because poor people can eat it, and Tonya Harding is disgusting because, given her choice of meal to eat on set, she still picks Taco Bell.

If she still wants to eat their food after having worked there, doesn’t that say good things about Taco Bell? Feh.
posted by tel3path at 8:14 AM on December 8 [8 favorites]


When she stopped landing her jumps (post 1991), she lost. A lot. It never seemed to me at the time that class & costumes & whatever had anything to do with it.

Perhaps PTSD from being hit all the time had something to do with it.
posted by Melismata at 8:30 AM on December 8 [1 favorite]


Yeah, probably. But it wasn’t the judges’ place, even in the old scoring system, to second guess why you weren’t landing your jumps. There was a lot of subjectivity, but not that much.
posted by tel3path at 8:34 AM on December 8 [2 favorites]


At some point all athletes decline in ability, but athlete's performance can be hugely affected by their surroundings that has little to do with their abilities and this plays out all the time in pro sports. She's one of eight women to ever land the triple axle and the first to do it twice in one competition. She was obviously a very good skater.
posted by P.o.B. at 8:59 AM on December 8 [2 favorites]


Also, this movie sounds really good and I want to see it.
posted by P.o.B. at 9:00 AM on December 8 [1 favorite]


I was totally on Team Kerrigan all of the way. The mockery of her when she was hurt still turns my stomach. Also, I thought she totally deserved to win the gold ahead of Oksana Baiul, who I thought was overrated, and felt that the judges were dinging Nancy to make the whole sordid story go away.
posted by dancing_angel at 9:31 AM on December 8 [2 favorites]


Also, I'm annoyed at the Ebert review for mocking figure skating and its costumes for being cheesy and tacky and all that.

I know it's the prevailing worldview, but the reality is that sometimes skating and its costumes are cheesy, and sometimes they're not. You wouldn't make fun of ballet as a genre because of Minkus, would you? Because the prevailing worldview is to have no actual taste or discernment, and just repeat what you've been told, GRAR.

it's not like they're ballroom dancers, ffs. and have you seen the wigs on Irish dancers lately. i can't even
posted by tel3path at 11:49 AM on December 8 [1 favorite]


have you seen the wigs on Irish dancers lately

Oh, you mean have you seen the little humans all the dancing wigs are wearing lately?

I kid, I kind of love them. But they are getting ridiculous. (And the dresses are an art form!)
posted by fiercecupcake at 12:10 PM on December 8 [1 favorite]


While the shitty framing of Harding as 'white trash' was indeed shitty, as I recall the evidence was clear that she was a active participant in the plot, and the plot was to possibly permanently cripple another skater who had done nothing to her. So I side-eye all the special pleading for Harding as more a victim than Kerrigan.

Kerrigan wasn't particularly a favorite of mine in that era of skaters, but she a) had equally shitty pop media framing (as a whiny ice princess) and b) was actually the fucking victim.
posted by tavella at 12:31 PM on December 8 [5 favorites]


Tonya was subject to abuse from her mother and from her husband ‎Jeff Gillooly. She was guilty of abuse too and it wasn't just Nancy Kerrigan.

She was a powerful physical skater, which wasn't appreciated in women's skating before. I love the story about how the producers asked for a woman skater who could do a triple axel to double for Tonya in the movie, and the response was basically "are you kidding?" -- they had to resort to CGI.
posted by eye of newt at 12:37 PM on December 8 [5 favorites]


I have to say, I remember seeing her interviewed by someone - it could have been Oprah? In which she earnestly said that the plot was all her husband's doing.

She did not come across as believable to me at all, for what that's worth.

The whole thing is just too sad to think about.
posted by tel3path at 1:03 PM on December 8 [1 favorite]


(honestly, i do think powerful physical women skaters *have* been appreciated though. midori ito was powerful, though it was thought from the beginning that she needed to be less robotic and more artistic.

besides, aren't they all pretty powerful? some are just more powerful than others. the fact that you have to control it to make it not too crash-bang-wallop is also required of the men, though you could argue it's a matter of degree. but nobody wants to see the incredible hulk on ice.

actually now i want an ice show starring the incredible hulk)
posted by tel3path at 1:08 PM on December 8


as I recall the evidence was clear that she was a active participant in the plot

That's really the nut of it, though -- she probably wasn't, and was not convicted as such. She and Gillooly "blamed each other", she received the lightest sentence and only for obstructing the investigation. She's denied involvement for years, and the abusive environment does strongly support that her role was passive rather than mastermind. I know I eventually revised my opinion, and I'm looking forward to the film's apparent head-on tackling of the class issues and media narratives.

For me one of the neat side stories of the movie is that Robbie, being young enough and also from Australia, had no knowledge of the incident before she read the screenplay. It sort of makes her perfect for the role, even if (as many stories and reviews have pointed out) she is conventionally pretty where Harding herself is not, something that was also clearly a factor in the way the public absorbed the story.

Certainly by now Harding has endured enough and I'm glad to see that the premiere was a happy event for her.
posted by dhartung at 1:24 PM on December 8 [1 favorite]


Looking at the pictures of Margot Robbie in this article, all I can think is that she doesn't look a thing in the world like Tonya, but they could have made her into a great Nancy.

You know who actually looks a bit like Tonya? Amy Schumer.
posted by Serene Empress Dork at 1:39 PM on December 8


Amy Schumer could (as well as SHOULD) never lose enough weight and height to play a five foot, hundred pound ice skater.

I was always more sympathetic toward Tonya, but that's probably because I'm West Coast white trash.

That said, my favorite skater is and will always be Surya Bonaly.
posted by elsietheeel at 2:01 PM on December 8 [1 favorite]


dhartung, as I recall, she did things like call around trying to locate where Kerrigan was so she could be attacked. I don't think there was any reliable third-party evidence as to whose initial idea it was, but her later stance of claiming she had nothing to do with it was extremely unconvincing. As eye of newt pointed out, it is entirely possible to be both abused and abuser.
posted by tavella at 2:41 PM on December 8 [4 favorites]


I did a lot of bouncing around as a kid and various households that I lived in full and part time tended to fluctuate in class level while I spent time within them. As a result, my take on class has always been rather harsh but somewhat unique, and while I didn't become a full on class war supporter until my late teens, I was pretty relentless towards the rich kids at school, most of whom acted in a way that would lead one to believe that they deserved my hatred.

When the incident happened, I was in the throes of puberty. My initial take was that Harding was very physically attractive and probably guilty, but I had changed that take to her probably not being guilty and Kerrigan being straight evil by the time that the olympics went down. That said, my primary and likely most vehement take was probably annoyance at having to hear about it so often* and, since the only sport (of sorts) that I have ever enjoyed is professional wrestling, I'm not sure that I knew how incredibly unique the situation was, since it mostly seemed like a real version of something that would happen in wrestling. In fact, wrestling ended up copying the incident shortly thereafter by having someone (eventually revealed to be his best friend Brutus Beefcake) try to kneecap the always annoying Hulk Hogan, who I also didn't feel the requisite level of sympathy towards.

*Maybe it is because I managed to do better at tuning out TV and mainstream media later in life, but it seemed like that 92ish-94ish era had an excessive amount of massive media events like OJ, Bobbitt, Amy Fisher, Dahmer, Monfils, Clinton, and so on.
posted by bootlegpop at 3:27 PM on December 8


Kerrigan being straight evil

See, this is the stuff that creeps me out about this particular rewrite of history. What the fuck did Kerrigan do to be called evil? Be a working class kid who put a lot of effort into becoming one of the best skaters in the US? Be attacked and injured by a man working for the family of another skater? Deciding you like one woman better than another and therefore dismissing the abuse suffered by the latter, and in fact deciding _she was evil for being attacked_ is just... revolting.
posted by tavella at 3:40 PM on December 8 [10 favorites]


I'm bothered by the erasure of/hostility towards working class women who don't conform to type. Being one myself. I could go on about that.

Kerrigan was guilty of fitting in with the Skating Club of Boston? Class traitor! Obviously needed to be taken down a notch.
posted by tel3path at 3:52 PM on December 8 [4 favorites]


I don't think Kerrigan was some horrible person but good Lord did the media make her out to be insufferable. And her "camp" were worse. They did her no favors at all to the point I was actively rooting for Harding by the Olympics even though I was pretty sure she'd done it and couldn't believe they let her go.
posted by fshgrl at 4:32 PM on December 8 [1 favorite]



See, this is the stuff that creeps me out about this particular rewrite of history. What the fuck did Kerrigan do to be called evil?


I think that I made it clear that this was my 1994 take that I made while I was underage, so I don't know why I was quoted out of context to give the impression that I was saying that I thought that in 2017. I don't even remember all that much of What I thought in my early teens, so remembering Why I thought something isn't possible at the moment. However, I can make an educated guess. It was likely mostly a result of the aforementioned annoyance at the excessive amount of coverage of the incident, and also slightly due to the way that Kerrigan was portrayed as a perfect rich Disney princess by the media (which whoever was in charge of her image intentionally played up before and after the incident), the whole "why me" thing, and feeling bad for Harding. In retrospect, while I now know that she wasn't rich, I do think that it is too bad that Kerrigan (and/or her family and handlers) intentionally played up that image in a way that Harding couldn't to prop her career. However, while I still think that she occasionally came off as slightly snotty (see, ironically, the excessively analyzed disney foofaraw), as an adult I am more prone to blaming the system than the person who played into it to help achieve what she wanted to achieve.

I'm bothered by the erasure of/hostility towards working class women who don't conform to type. Being one myself. I could go on about that.

Kerrigan was guilty of fitting in with the Skating Club of Boston? Class traitor! Obviously needed to be taken down a notch.


For one thing, I only found out that she didn't grow up rich today in this thread. My hot takes as a 14 year old were only based on what I learned about the situation while actively trying to avoid hearing about it to the extent of frequently leaving the room when family members were watching shows about it. I gave said take because other people were talking about how they saw things at the time, and because I don't concur that Harding was ugly or less attractive than Kerrigan, not that it should have mattered, even though it apparently did.

I don't actually see how she wasn't a working class woman who didn't conform to type. My experience has been that most working class people and most people in general try to give the public impression that they are of a higher class than they are financially and/or think that they are doing better than they actually are, as evidenced by the amount of people who think that they are among top earners when they aren't anywhere near it. She was merely better at it than most. I don't consider this to be offensive, even though I consider the reverse a la Pulp's Common People to be ethically questionable.

On the other hand, Kerrigan's net worth is currently estimated at 9 million. There are many people with much more who are therefore far more guilty, but if that figure is accurate, I think that it is somewhat troubling to have that much while some people have nothing, unless mitigated by a massive amount of charitable giving. So, my current sympathy would be more likely to be extended towards people who are currently working class and being unfairly critiqued for not acting the right way, as opposed to being extended towards someone who is currently a millionaire.
posted by bootlegpop at 4:39 PM on December 8


So as not to abuse the edit button: I was actually really surprised when I mentioned my sympathy towards Harding and lack of sympathy towards Kerrigan to a few people over the last year or so and all of them said that they were of the opinion that most people felt that way at the time. I'm not sure if this is a matter of people remembering the past incorrectly or not, but my take was that everyone was in Kerrigan's corner and no one was on Harding's side. That was probably also one of the reasons that I sympathized with Harding. In general, it has always been my tendency to side with underdogs, but my takes and the rationales behind them were unsurprisingly less morally nuanced as a teenager. In reality and in retrospect, both of them got screwed by men in a variety of ways.
posted by bootlegpop at 4:51 PM on December 8 [1 favorite]


If you want more skating drama, read about the battle of the Carmens in Calgary 88. The only part of the story that isn't sour is Liz Manley being genuinely thrilled getting the silver.
posted by fluttering hellfire at 10:44 AM on December 9


In reality and in retrospect, both of them got screwed by men in a variety of ways.

This is sort of where I sit now with both of them. When you're a woman, there's so much baggage around likability. If you can't balance on the perfect needlepoint of being found likable...well, being the current one in favor doesn't do much good as soon as you start to slip. I think both Harding and Kerrigan are so much more than the roles they were slotted into, and since this was all happening before the real heyday of social media, their own voices were lost.

Or maybe they're both happy at this point to say, "You know what? You were told a story, so think whatever you want. You don't know my truth." And I'd respect the hell out of both of them for saying that.

Both of them were fighters - you don't get to be that level of athlete without it. I think that's why Ashley Wagner has been one of my skating faves for a while now. She's a competitor and she wants to win and she's not the least bit apologetic about it.

Also! As an MCU fangirl, I'm tickled to death about the great press Sebastian Stan has been getting for his part in all of this. Go Bucky! (And the screenplay by Steven Rogers. Hee hee.)
posted by Salieri at 12:56 PM on December 9 [4 favorites]


Slight derail but,
If she still wants to eat their food after having worked there, doesn’t that say good things about Taco Bell?
So my two best friends and I all had our first jobs at a fast food restaurant. All three of our go-to fast food places are now all those same places we worked. Maybe it becomes something like comfort food once you've worked there, since you're eating it for half your meals anyways?

You know who actually looks a bit like Tonya? Amy Schumer.
I actually think Amy Adams could have pulled it off better than either Margo or Amy. She's got that nose.

Also, I'm really digging all these documentaries (see: OJ, LA Riots, Anita Hill, etc.) about stuff that happened when I was young enough to know something happened but not old enough to really pay attention.
posted by LizBoBiz at 6:42 AM on December 11 [3 favorites]


I actually think Amy Adams could have pulled it off better than either Margo or Amy. She's got that nose.

I didn't know you could do that with Google image search! One more tool for me to waste time with.
posted by eye of newt at 8:35 AM on December 11 [2 favorites]


A Fact-Checked Guide on I, Tonya from Vulture. Looks like most of the movie is indeed backed up by various accounts from Harding and others, with some things being pure artistic license.
posted by yasaman at 12:01 PM on December 11 [1 favorite]


The eight women who have landed the triple axel in international competition to date.
posted by stagewhisper at 2:02 PM on December 12 [1 favorite]


If you watch the Midori Ito clip you can see that it's nowhere near the delicate ladylike athleticism-denying performance that it's being portrayed as in some of these press articles.

I remember Midori Ito's international debut and I never really took to her because she was just... not art. Perhaps she improved on that later on.
posted by tel3path at 2:12 PM on December 12


I agree with you on the first sentence regarding the revisionism of how Midori Ito is categorized recently in some articles. But she wasn't American so Japan, not the USFSA, had control over her career. And likewise there, as beloved as she was, she was still pressured relentlessly to lose weight to fit an ideal she wasn't built for and the repercussions of the dieting and weight fluctuations definitely led to health complications, injuries, and poor competition results in the years following that first triple axel.

As far as her not being artistic, or her skating not "art", that's something that comes down to personal preference as much as anything. She was one of my favorite skaters because apart from her power I found her style refreshing. She had amazing speed, flow, and soaring edges (Not to mention the height and flow out on those jumps and her landings!). Imo her body carriage and positions for elements were aesthetically pleasing, just not traditionally feminine in the narrow definition of that conservative sport. Judges agreed, as she was awarded very high marks at some competitions for the artistic score including a 6.0 at a major competition. But that's subjective, of course, and I'm glad the 6.0 system no longer exists.
posted by stagewhisper at 5:29 PM on December 12 [1 favorite]


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