The release of “I, Tonya” has shone fresh light and spurred much debate about figure skater Tonya Harding and her alleged involvement in the attack on rival Nancy Kerrigan ahead of the 1994 Winter Olympics.
It’s a story that fascinated the country as it unraveled and has stood the test of time as one of modern America’s enduring pop culture moments.
One thing that still can’t be disputed about Harding is her penchant for sitting in the middle of controversy. She found herself with a new batch of it on Thursday when her manager Michael Ronsenberg posted on Facebook that he was no longer representing her after she made demands that the press be fined $25,000 if they ask her about her past.
Tonya Harding, who has a long history of biting the hands that fed her, backed into a corner the agent who made the movie happen, and, bless him, Michael Rosenberg walked away pic.twitter.com/2OIBBupoGv
— Philip Hersh (@olyphil) January 12, 2018
That’s, uh … interesting.
The initial problems with the proposal Rosenberg describes are obvious. Like, who’s going to implement these fines? Who’s going to enforce them? And with what authority?
But once you move past the sheer absurdity of the suggestion, the demand on Rosenberg and subsequent dissolution of Harding’s relationship with him is what stands out.
Rosenberg is a man she credited not long ago with her involvement in “I, Tonya.”
“I was like, I don’t want to go through this again,” Harding told The Hollywood Reporter while promoting the movie. “I’ve been through enough, and I have my son now. Michael Rosenberg, my manager, talked me into doing this possibly as closure.”
Since the well-received movie was screened for press members and released to the public, the narrative around Harding has changed, undeniably for the better.
Harding has been seen smiling alongside star Margot Robbie, who portrays her in the movie, on press tours and red carpets. Harding was a guest at Sunday’s Golden Globes. She’s undeniably happy with her involvement with a movie that’s changing the script about her life.
— Variety (@Variety) January 8, 2018
It wasn’t long ago that Harding was almost universally loathed as a pariah because of — well, you know — that thing about her being involved with a goon taking a baton to Kerrigan’s knee in a failed attempt to knock her out of Olympic competition.
The details of how much she was involved and what she knew about the plot ahead of time may never be known.
But she did plead guilty to hindering the prosecution of her ex-husband Jeff Gillooly and bodyguard Shawn Eckhardt, who orchestrated the attack on Kerrigan.
But thanks in part to “I, Tonya,” the narrative is shifting Harding’s role from alleged perpetrator to victim. Harding was undoubtedly surrounded by some bad people for most of her life and is presented as a wholly sympathetic character in this new version of her life story.
Never mind the criminal conviction. Never mind the evidence pointing to a larger role than what she admitted to. Never mind the real victim in this story, Kerrigan, who spoke with the Boston Globe on Thursday.
“At this point, it’s so much easier and better to just be . . . it’s not really part of my life,” Kerrigan said of the assault she suffered at the hands of Harding’s associates. “As you say, I was the victim. Like, that’s my role in this whole thing.”
Which brings us back to Rosenberg, Harding’s now former manager. Here’s a man whom she credited with her involvement in a movie that has improved her life and changed the way people view her for the better. Once she was a real-life villain. Now, thanks to some Hollywood scrubbing, she’s a victim of circumstance. And she can thank her former manager for pushing that agenda.
Instead, she decided to toss away the relationship for the sake of absurd demands threatening press members who dare go digging into her past while the sun is shining.
I, Tonya, indeed.
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