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I, Tonya presents Tonya Harding in a new way

January 30, 2018

Earning $10 million dollars at box office and three Oscar nominations, it’s safe to say that I, Tonya has gotten a lot of buzz within the past few months. I, Tonya follows the events leading up to and following the the attack of Nancy Kerrigan at the U.S Figure Skating Championships in 1994, from Tonya Harding’s perspective.

Kerrigan was bruised in the knee after practice and it was discovered soon after that Shane Stant was hired by, ex husband, Jeff Gillooly and, his friend, Shawn Eckhardt to carry out the attack on Kerrigan. Harding pleaded not guilty as she had no knowledge of the plans prior to the incident; however, she was found guilty of hindering the prosecution. Harding received three years’ probation, 500 hours of community service, a $100,000 fine, and worst of all, she was banned from skating with the U.S. Figure Skating Association for life.

Margot Robbie, who plays Harding in the movie, reveals that the objective of the film is “to humanize one of the most villainized figures in American History” by showing Harding’s life prior, during, and after the incident. Nevertheless, many believe that Harding’s story is untrue even Tonya’s Mother, LaVona Golden, argues against Harding’s claims presented in the film.

Golden is portrayed as “a monster,” several times in the movie. Allison Janney, plays Golden in the film,  says she had to refer to video evidence from years ago to prepare, even mentioning that Golden was never interviewed for the film. Janney adds that the producers “didn’t know where she was. Tonya didn’t even know if she was alive or dead and didn’t even care.”

Regarding the portrayal of Harding’s abusive history, Golden claims, “[she] didn’t abuse any of [her] children”and that “[Harding] lied so much, she doesn’t know what isn’t a lie anymore.” This is shocking, as the abuse plays a major factor in her story. Golden questions, “why would [she] throw a steak knife at [Harding] or anybody,” referring to a specific scene from the film, which could have been added for emphasis, but seems to be a bit of a stretch.

There’s no doubt that the film represents Harding as completely innocent. It is made especially clear when Harding says her life after the incident “was like being abused all over again. Only this time it was by you. All of you. You’re all my attackers too.”

Truth be told, Harding elicits sympathy in the scenes of her past life on screen, whether it’s true, or not. Robbie gives her heart out to Harding. She says she was “amazed that no one asked about [Harding’s] upbringing and circumstances” that “everyone was so quick to turn her into this monster in the media.”

While many aspects of Harding’s story on the screen adaptation is shocking, Harding recently admitted to prior knowledge of the attack when she overheard Gillooly and Eckhardt talking about skating and saying, “Well, maybe somebody should be taken out,” she stated in an ABC interview. Her statement completely contradicts to the story depicted in the movie, leaving the public questioning the film and Harding.

I, Tonya received several award nominations and has been praised by critics. Robbie recently posted an Instagram picture of Harding and her celebrating the success of the film, but is there cause to celebrate when you look at the bigger picture?

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