Saturday, March 16, 2019

I, Tonya and loving to hate Tonya Harding

I’m late the party but really glad I watched I, Tonya on the plane recently. I remember following figure skating at the time and really admiring Tonya Harding for her skating style, athleticism, and maverick attitude. After her last performance at the Olympics I remember just losing track of her. I don’t think I was even aware that she had been charged or convicted of anything.

When the movie came out I remember there being some bad press about how they were basically exploiting Nancy Kerrigan. Or that it somehow desecrated Nancy Kerrigan to tell the story? And I kind of assumed because people said this that they had watched the film and Tonya comes off pretty badly in it but also like the film was glorifying her badness. I remember Margot Robie thanking Tonya in an awards speech and sort of being surprised that she would engage with that controversy, that she hadn’t just seen Tonya the same way that an actor who had played Hitler think about Hitler – like thanks for the subject matter and the gritty character, but morally distancing herself from Tonya.
But I’m typing this on this 14+ hour flight (uf) and only watched the show because I basically have seen all of the other somewhat appealing movies. I was so entertained, though. Edge of my seat entertained. For those of you who haven’t watched it, the show is all based on interviews they had done with the parties recently. Then the actors reinact those interviews. So you’re getting some he said she said and probably getting some foggy memories, but I was surprised at how likable Tonya came off, at least to me. Maybe I shouldn’t have been surprised because I found her likable when I was younger and she basically is the same person. There’s no secret dark dark side of her that was this ruthless predator that would hire a hit on a competitor or anything. And her relationship with her husband who did order what he thought was just going to be intimidation via letter was much more complex than I had understood. Even the husband apologizes at the end and admits that he ruined her career and but for him none of it would have happened.

And now that I am older, it just seems so much more human and unfortunate, but not at all black and white morally. Not just morally gray to my eyes, but I was really surprised that anyone would have posted what they did saying that it was overly glamorizing Tonya and bad behavior.

Some of the more interesting quotes, and I wish I had access to the internet to find them but I’ll paraphrase, are when Tonya says that she was abused not just by her first husband, but that we all abused her too by harassing her and having the press hound her and ruining her life. We also abused her. Man, I feel that. I feel part of that when my curiosity for prurient details pops up and I feel that when I see people crowd shame people in this very black and white way for what appears to be gray and much-more-complex-than-they-seem situations. And it’s not necessary and it’s not helpful. Who does it help for us to watch Tonya television and hate her. What useful purpose does it serve? Her husband Jeff was able to change his life and start over, thankfully in the era before internet social warriors would have doxed him. What use is it to dox someone like him? What war are these warrior’s fighting? They remind me of antifa – their version of solution is worse than the problem.
That’s the second quote I like from Tonya. She says that America loves to have people to love. And they also love to have people to hate. But what sort of itch is that scratching for you America? And how is that need to have people to love and/or hate being used against you by manipulators in media, commerce, and politics? It’s basically like a drug America, you’re an addict, and it’s not a victimless crime.


  1. is ME going soft?

  2. A socio's boundaries are innate to themselves and based on their own experiences/ preferences. Same would have been said for most people at one point in time on the continuum, but not presently. Appears that boundaries are far more flexible to non existent in some of the Cluster B and cause a great deal of emotional/ psychological turmoil in neurotypicals. Again, the severity will vary depending on the individual and the boundary violated.


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