So, “I, Tonya” (I think my favorite movie) is making twitter waves.
And I’ve seen many takes of people sort of thinking of this as “Nancy v Tonya.” “What about Nancy Kerrigan?!” people are asking.
But I just wanted to float the idea that two female teammates don’t *have* to be this zero sum game of “one of this princess and one is the wicked villain.” Life isn’t a wrapped-up-neat Disney movie.
I think it’s very possible that they’re both victims of Jeff Gillooly. (I was going to say victims maybe in different ways, but Jeff was very violent with Tonya. So, she was physically hurt by him as well. So, maybe they were victims both in different and similar ways.)
Anyway, that’s the main thing I wanted to put out there.
I’d also like to say that one argument people are making about why it seems ridiculous to some that we’re out here celebrating Tonya Harding is that they’re thinking of Tonya Harding as someone who perpetrated assault – an abuser. And this is a time where we’re supposed to be celebrating the survivors pushing perpetrators out of the limelight. (I mean, the time to do that was long ago, but since it didn’t happen, the time is now.)
And I thought about that before I started effusively and often talking about how much I adore Tonya Harding. But here’s my thing. I truly don’t believe she was part of planning or carrying out the attack. I think it was just as much a shock to her as to the rest of the country. I don’t think she is an abuser.
And I could be wrong. But as I said, I think the most likely scenario is that both women are victims of the man – whose name I’d never heard until the movie. (How is she so publicly vilified when he’s the one who went to jail?!)
Has Tonya been the abuser I would agree that we shouldn’t celebrate her for that incident.
(I think I would still think that she should have the potential opportunity to rehabilitate – I think the perpetrators of many crimes (including many abusers/assaulters) should have the opportunity to learn, to make amends and pat some reparations, to be better, and to be slowly and cautiously (for at least a while) be integrated back into society.)
So, no matter what, I don’t think that after well over 20 years, I’d be like “keep her banished the woods forever!” But I also definitely don’t think I’d be like “let’s celebrate her at all these ceremonies!” – especially since we’re celebrating a movie about that point in her life. (Like, had she been the abuser, I wouldn’t want to celebrate that awful moment. (I’m not blowing any party horns for Jeff Gillooly over here.))
But anyway, I believe many people are thinking too binary with the idea of “if we celebrate Tonya, we vilify Nancy” (or some version of that).
I don’t believe in diminishing the pain Nancy Kerrigan went through. I just don’t believe Tonya put her in that pain. And I don’t think we can celebrate only one of them.
I think we can recognize both of their painful pasts from that time, and recognize Jeff Gillooly and Sean Eckhart as the villains in this tale.