Tonya Harding was considered one of ice skating’s “bad girls,” but after seeing the movie, “I, TONYA,” I’ve got to wonder about that. I came home from this movie yesterday wondering about everything I’d ever heard regarding Tonya Harding.
Obviously, the movie is very pro-Tonya, helped by Harding herself, who participated in numerous interviews to help get her side of the story covered correctly. Maybe it’s time people started to pay attention.
Harding came from a very poor background, but in my humble opinion, that in and of itself does not render a child who wants to skate as much as Tonya did either “bad” or “trashy.” She couldn’t afford the same costumes as the other skaters. She couldn’t afford a fur coat. She wasn’t a little rich girl. Personally, I couldn’t care less what kind of socioeconomic background an athlete hails from. The girl was a great little skater from the age of four, period, and that should count for a lot more than what kind of an image she might project if she, heaven forfend, wasn’t coming to and from competitions in some certain “approved” coat.
Please note: this is hardly the first time I’ve heard less than stellar things about the powers that be in the skating community. They weren’t too fond of another terrific skater, Surya Bonaly, either. She was also branded “bad,” and also didn’t fit their preferred image of a sweet little skater. This is ridiculous! If these kids can skate, they can skate!
Margot Robbie is wonderful in her role as Tonya Harding. The movie portrays Tonya’s mother Lavona as a real monster, one of those awful parents who believes if they belittle and smack the child around, they’ll make her care more about her performance. Allison Janney won a Golden Globe Award last night for the role, and she certainly deserved it. The movie is excellent, and even has lots of funny parts to it, believe it or not, given it’s not only about skating but child abuse, spousal abuse, and criminal behavior.
For those who may be too young to remember, Tonya Harding was an Olympic Team hopeful back in 1994, as was her rival, Nancy Kerrigan. All hell broke lose when a man attacked poor Kerrigan at the rink where she was practicing by hitting her in the knee with a baton. It soon came to light that Harding’s husband, Jeff Gillooly, and his ultra-whacked best friend, Shawn Eckhardt, had hired two idiots, Shane Stant and Derrick Smith, to carry out the attack. Watch for the scenes with Eckhardt, played by Paul Walter Hauser, in them. I won’t add spoilers, but whoa…! What a performance!
Harding claimed to be innocent, although the FBI alleged that her handwriting was found on a plan of attack written on a restaurant napkin…
According to this movie, Tonya had no knowledge of the attack. But it was her career that was ended over it, just the same. Following an Olympic competition where she came in 8th, a show that went on because the ratings were through the roof when Nancy and Tonya had a skate-off, Tonya wound up banned from skating.
So I’m thinking…did the world view Tonya correctly way back when, or did every reporter who covered this admittedly strange story make a horrible mistake? Was the FBI right or wrong about the notes on the napkin they said were written by Tonya? Perhaps the world should take another look at the whole situation.