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‘I, Tonya’ Gets Torn to Shreds by a Reporter Who Covered the Real-Life Incident: ‘This Fantasy Film Is Harding’s Dream Come True’

J.E. Vader calls the biopic a portrait of "an unrepentant felon."

I Tonya Margot Robbie

“I, Tonya”


“It was painful to hand over the money for a ticket, knowing that some of it would go to an unrepentant felon, and knowing all too well how much money means to her.” That’s quite the way to open a piece on “I, Tonya,” but it’s hard to argue with the source: J.E. Vader, who reported on the Tonya Harding/Nancy Kerrigan incident when it actually happened.

The biopic starring Margot Robbie (who received an Oscar nomination for her performance) has led to renewed interest in (and sympathy for) Harding, which Vader can’t abide — in fact, she picks the film apart, detail by detail, in her piece for the Oregonian.

“Harding has changed her story over and over in the past 24 years, but it’s always that she is a victim and everyone else is horrible. She is habitually ‘truth-challenged’ — this fantasy film is Harding’s dream come true,” writes Vader. All of this is at the expense of Kerrigan, the actual victim in the story, who’s reduced to “comic relief” in Craig Gillespie’s film.

There’s also the fact that, according to Vader, several of the most important scenes are complete fabrications meant to portray its heroine as something she wasn’t then and isn’t then: a hapless bystander to the infamous attack. Vader writes that initial plans for the attack “included killing Kerrigan, or cutting her Achilles’ tendon, before settling for breaking her landing leg and leaving her injured wearing a duct-tape gag in her hotel room — and that Tonya Harding was well in on the plans and impatient when Kerrigan wasn’t disabled right away. (Makes Tonya a tad less sympathetic, no?)”

This newfound obsession with Harding appears to reflect our truth-challenged times, according to Vader: “We live in a world where people line up for selfies with O.J. Simpson and heavyweight rapist Mike Tyson; where vaccines are said to be harmful for children and global warming is a hoax, and where the president tells whopper lies several times a day. Why shouldn’t Tonya Harding be a new folk hero?” Read the full story here.

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