January 10, 2018

"I hated the word 'feminine.' It reminded me of a tampon or a panty liner."

Said Tonya Harding, whose "sin" — as the NYT puts it — "was not being the Disney princess Barbie doll that the Figure Skating Association demanded of its skaters."

The NYT article is "Tonya Harding Would Like Her Apology Now/In the movie, 'I, Tonya,' the disgraced figure skater looks back on the 1994 Nancy Kerrigan scandal and her struggles to tell her side of the story" by — what a spectacular name! — Taffy Brodesser-Akner.
“You all disrespected me and it hurt. I’m a human being and it hurt my heart,” she said, her hand karate chopping the table lightly with every word for emphasis. “I was a liar to everybody but still, 23 years later, finally everybody can just eat crow. That’s what I have to say.”

Yes, but the world is different now, I tell her.... Look at Monica Lewinsky and how we treated her. Just yesterday I saw maybe the seventh essay comparing her with you, how rough the 90s were on women who needed support and ——

“Monica Lewinsky?” she asked, incredulous, using a modified version of the same obscene phrase involving male anatomy that she had just said she would never use.* “In the Oval Office! You don’t think that there’s something wrong with that? She disrespected the country.”

But you were both so young, I said. And the press was so hard on you before they’d heard the full ——

Stop it, she said. Don’t compare her to Monica Lewinsky. She is nothing like Monica Lewinsky, she said. Tonya wasn’t making mistakes like a privileged person who gets an internship at the White House....
I'm interested in Brodesser-Akner's use of the double em-dash. That would look crazy to me, but I recently read — in "Between You & Me: Confessions of a Comma Queen " — that Charles Dickens had a penchant for the double em dash:
In Dickens I discovered something unexpected: an abundance of double dashes— two-em dashes, closed up. “Gaffer! If you think to get rid of me this way——” He uses the double dash in dialogue, to convey an interruption compounded by a threat. The double dash is strangely expressive, packing an extra dose of suspense, as if the speaker, rendered inarticulate by emotion, were resorting to his fists. And, when you think about it, suspense is what punctuation is all about: how is the author going to finish the sentence?
___________________

* Earlier in the article, we're told that in the movie, there's a scene with Tonya confronting skating judges, showing that "she gets frustrated and gives them an obscene directive involving male anatomy. Never happened, she said. 'I would never say that.'" I guess I could look up the movie dialogue. The "obscene directive" must be "Blow me." Or is it "suck my dick"? Oh! I looked it up. It's "suck my dick." Here's Vulture, "A Fact-checked Guide to I, Tonya":
Did Tonya tell a judge to “suck my dick” after the judge criticized her outfit? No. [the actress playing Harding, Margot] Robbie said in a late-night interview that the line was made up, but that when Harding saw the movie, she apparently wished she had said it. Harding did, however, tell the judge who criticized her outfit that unless she could come up with $5,000 to buy Harding a new costume she could “stay out of my face.”

48 comments:

mockturtle said...

IIRC, Harding's sin was to arrange the physical assault on her competitor in an attempt to break her leg.

rhhardin said...

Kroger's aisle "feminine needs" should also have the greeting card section.

CJinPA said...

So, was she part of the plan to assault her competitor or not?

If not, her climb really is a great story. But it requires more than a Hollywood rewrite to make it so.

LYNNDH said...

So she is the victim? Poor Nancy, she thought she was the victim because she is the one that got smashed and almost lost her career.

Tim at large said...

Like every narrative they push in the press, it all holds together as long as one pretends that they are not aware of certain facts.

CJinPA said...

I really want to like Harding. She always reminded me of my foul mouthed, other-side-of-the tracks girlfriend I had in high school/college. She worked hard with little resources and was really good.

Of course, Nancy Kerrigan just a middle class kid, too.

Chris said...

Tonya conspired (of course she says she didn't) to harm or take out a direct competitor. She's a liar and now she's some sort of feminist hero?

Kate said...

Tonya wants the NYT to know that she deserves sympathy because she's not part of the elite. The elite NYT reports on her while laughing up their sleeve at her hickness. There's your double em-dash at work.

Tim at large said...

Still the best line about the whole thing I remember was this one:

"Oh Oksana, now don’t you cry for me!
‘Cause I come to Lillehammer with a bandage on my knee!” - Wag unknown

Birches said...

Seriously? We're supposed to feel sorry for Tonya? The judges made me do it!

n.n said...

When did the feminine gender become a four letter word?

And, was that the motive for feminists to redefine the masculine gender as a four letter word?

Female chauvinists are merely inclusive. Male, female, young, old. No Judgment. As are male chauvinists.

Tim at large said...

Tonya did sort of have the kind of hotness that Madonna had way back in the day, in Desperately Seeking Susan.

Remember that movie, with Rosanna Arquette? Whatever happened to her? She was really good in that movie!

glenn said...

Lotta folks 15 Minutes are up. Tonya is just one of many.

gspencer said...

Taffy Brodesser-Akner,

It's only spectacular if porn "actresses" begin using it.

Inga said...

““You don’t think that there’s something wrong with that? She disrespected the country.””

So did Tonya. She was representing the US at the Olympics for pity sake. She sounds like she’s still an asshole.

William said...

All those testosterone addled football players never thought up such a simple but effective strategy. This serves to underline the need for more women in the higher ranks of our military...... It's a tough sell making Tonya and Monica feminist icons, but look at the job they did on Sacco & Vanzetti and Alger Hiss. It can be done.

rehajm said...

Criminal, unattractive, rotten personality girl treated unfairly is always good Oscar bait. Especially if the actress is hot made ugly.

Tonya pled guilty to trying to hinder prosecution of the conspirators. Good enough for me.

Bob Boyd said...

My grandfather was a taffy brodesser. That's how he met my grandmother, she was an akner.
Now it's all done by machines.

Unknown said...

Like many of those commenting here, I missed the news that Tonya was the real victim in that whole episode.

-sw

Ron Winkleheimer said...

I'm confused. Did she conspire to have her rivals kneecap broken so that she would not be able to compete or not? Does the movie have some "nuanced" take on it? Is she complicit, but not really because "reasons?"

Crazy Jane said...

The movie is good, but we all can name movies that examined real-life events and got the facts wrong. I don't have a point of view on Harding's culpability.

The problem is that Tonya Harding has been sneered at as low-class trailer trash for even longer than Paula Jones was. She has been the butt of jokes for her bad manners and combative nature when the real issue is whether she did what her detractors say she did. THAT is unfair.

The only lesson from to take from this is to choose your parents more carefully than Tonya Harding did. Given how she was raised, she got about as far as a person could.

Rob said...

Forgive me in advance for being classist, but it's a pity Tonya Harding didn't work in the Clinton White House. She was just the kind of white trash Clinton gravitated toward for his extracurricular outings.

Bob Boyd said...

There was another akner, good looking gal, who also liked my grandfather and started making eyes at him. My grandmother didn't like where things were headed so she kneecapped the poor girl with an akning rod. The girl couldn't akn so well after that and had to leave the taffy works.
"Spare the rod, lose your man" my grandmother always said.

The Drill SGT said...

Ugh!

Apology?

Annie C said...

Now I want to see more double em dashes. An interruption compounded by a threat. Useful.

hombre said...

Hollywood women saying, "Suck my dick." And they think Trump is a delusional idiot.

If Hollywood women had even virtual dicks and the emotional appurtenances, Harvey would still be in business, in a wheelchair perhaps, but still in business.

tcrosse said...

Seinfeld Season 6 Episode 24 "The Understudy" caricatured Tonya Harding, with Bette Midler in the Kerrigan role.

hombre said...

Democrat Hollywood cinema continues the fine partisan and medium tradition of glorifying criminals.

Ann Althouse said...

One of the funniest lines in the comedy show Roseanne Barr put out on video in the 1980s (before he sitcom) was: "People say to me, 'You’re not very feminine.' Well, they can just suck my dick."

So to my ear, the movie line isn't fresh.

Rob said...

At a roast of Sarah Silverman, with Bea Arthur in attendance, Jeff Ross did a twist on a current dig and said, "I wouldn't fuck Sarah Silverman with Bea Arthur's dick."

hombre said...

Crazy Jane: "... the real issue is whether she did what her detractors say she did. THAT is unfair."

Well, there was that guilty plea to a felony in the case after a plea bargain. There were also the sworn statements of her co-conspirators. But what the hell? She's not Harvey, Dustin or Kevin. Let's give her the benefit of the doubt despite her felony conviction.

Unclebiffy said...

Isn't this all just part of the feminist #metoo nonsense? All women are to be believed, countervailing facts are not to be considered or allowed. And it's a hoot talking about how poorly Monica Lewinsky was treated. The only people who treated her poorly were the Clintons and the MSM. She received the old nuts & sluts treatment from both until she made it clear to them that she was going to play ball. After that she became both women who was old enough to make up her mind and an innocent girl being abused by the right wing and their minnion Linda Tripp.

Darcy said...

First: Wow. I am glad I read that article. I never thought I would feel warm toward Tonya Harding. I do now.

Background: Huge figure skating fan. I loved Nancy and hated Tonya. Skip to years later when I'm still growing (up) every day and recognizing how many things are just not what they seem. People make awful mistakes. Most often for love or money. I know. I've made them too. Btw, Nancy was (allegedly) a homewrecker, did you know that? Not So Nice Nancy!

Anyway - to Tonya: Aww, girl. You did wrong, but I forgive you. Thanks for telling your story.

Sam's Hideout said...

Tim at Large asked:

"Remember that movie, with Rosanna Arquette? Whatever happened to her?"

Arquette is one of the women who has accused Harvey Weinstein of sexual harassment, ergo perhaps her career was derailed by same years ago.

Jupiter said...

Ann Althouse said...
One of the funniest lines in the comedy show Roseanne Barr put out on video in the 1980s (before he sitcom) was: "People say to me, 'You’re not very feminine.' Well, they can just suck my dick."

Donna Brazile's is bigger.

Bill Peschel said...

Rob wrote: "At a roast of Sarah Silverman, with Bea Arthur in attendance, Jeff Ross did a twist on a current dig and said, "I wouldn't fuck Sarah Silverman with Bea Arthur's dick.""

It's a dam funny joke, which Bea absolutely hated. She had a tough time dealing with looking the way she did, talking the way she did, putting yourself out there to do good work and getting shit on like that.

And we're not even talking about The Star Wars Christmas Special.

Like I said, a funny line, and as Steve Martin said: Comedy is not pretty.

rehajm said...

I have one Tonya anecdote: I lived in Portland in 1993-4 when the controversy was going down just before she left for the Olympics. I went over to the Clackamas Mall early in the morning to watch where she was training at their public ice rink. It's one of those deals in the center of the mall with all the catwalks where the you can see the ice. Well, of course it's packed with people and media on all levels but there Tonya was, training for the Olympics with her paid hour of private ice time at the mall. All the little girls in their skates watching but also waiting for her to finish so they could skate. Camera flashes every time she tried the triple. She has to get on the microphone to ask them to refrain three or four times. 58 minutes up on her hour and she takes a lap to wave to everyone that's there to support or hate, then nearly gets bowled over one the ice by all the skater girls when her hour is up.

Achilles said...

Ann Althouse said...
One of the funniest lines in the comedy show Roseanne Barr put out on video in the 1980s (before he sitcom) was: "People say to me, 'You’re not very feminine.' Well, they can just suck my dick."

People forget just how funny Roseanne was and why she had a #1 sitcom for a while. This despite a not average Hollywood appearance. She had real talent.

It will be interesting to see if she can carry off the new show.

Anthony said...

Damn. Robbie is worth watching it for. But yeah, Harding was kinda of pretty back then, but not Margot Robbie pretty.

walter said...

Figure skater..not a figure of speech.
So..how was she as a boxer?

Big Mike said...

I recollect back in 1992 -- before the Nancy Kerrigan knee-capping -- that Sports Illustrated did an article on Tonya Harding. The article noted that she came from a lower class background and did a number of things that certainly were not "girly" (e.g., pool, hunting, drag racing, auto mechanics). The money quote: "At 21, she has seen a lot of life, and she is unapologetic if the experience has left her just a little rough around the edges." Her half brother came home drunk one night and tried to rape her, and later threatened to kill her for squealing on him. Her biological mother called her a liar. Yeah, Tonya had seen a lot of life.

The article praised her her strength, her competitiveness, and her willingness to push herself, but -- foreshadowing -- the writer of the article seemed to believe that her husband Jeff Gillooly was not a good influence. Two years after the article Gillooly orchestrated the attack on Nancy Kerrigan. How much did Harding know about the attack? Considering how poorly it was planned and carried out, probably not much. But he also videotaped their wedding night and in the same year as he knee-capped Kerrigan he sold it to Penthouse magazine, which distributed it widely. (Good choice of husbands there, Tonya. But a lot of women marry badly.)

Jim at said...

The thing that got lost - and still gets lost - in the whole Harding/Kerrigan story?

Nancy Kerrigan was a first-class bitch.

Doesn't mean she deserved to get whacked, but it does cover up what a snarling bitch she truly was.

Those two deserved each other.

elkh1 said...

No one could respect a cartoon character who smashed her opponent's knee, as if she had only one opponent, as if she could smashed all opponents' knees.

Jim at said...

"I wouldn't fuck Sarah Silverman with Bea Arthur's dick." - Rob

Not quite.

It was a roast of Jerry Stiller and Ross said he wouldn't fuck Sandra Bernhard with Bea Arthur's dick.

And he was correct.

William Chadwick said...

Jim writes: "The thing that got lost - and still gets lost - in the whole Harding/Kerrigan story? Nancy Kerrigan was a first-class bitch. Doesn't mean she deserved to get whacked, but it does cover up what a snarling bitch she truly was.
Those two deserved each other."

Can you give me some specific examples of Kerrigan's bitchery, Jim? Preferably those flagrant enough to provoke trailer-trash violence against her.

I remember the Southern humor columnist Lewis Grizzard doing a pro-Tonya column after the attack, and after a pro-forma disclaimer along the lines of "Not that that justifies what happened," he offered a defense of Harding pretty much along the classic Southern "She [Kerrigtan] had it coming;" although not being able to explain why other than Kerrigan was, to him, a stuck-up Yankee and Tonya was just "regular folks" like Southern rednecks (even if she and Gillooly were from Oregon or wherever they were from). In other words, pure tribalism: "Tonya's one of us, so we sho0uld stand by her."

Big Mike said...

Back in the day when my son was in youth basketball, youth soccer, Little League, etc. the daddy who coached basketball was a sports agent. He knew — and told us — that Kerrigan was boinking her agent way before it was common knowledge. He blamed the agent, saying that it was important for an agent to maintain distance from a client. And naked on top of your client is a bit too close.

BillyTalley said...

Regarding “ ...my dick...”, I think Donna Brazil’s had something to say about this too.

Begonia said...

I thought the profile of Tonya Harding/Tonya Price was well-done, but spent a little too much time on the "white trash" tropes a little too much. Really, do we HAVE to know that she uses Wet N Wild lip gloss? That felt cruel, almost a parody of a fashion magazine profile.

At least the profile makes it clear that Harding has paid her dues through our justice system and through her being banned from the sport.

As I read the end, where the author discusses the "truth" of what happened, and the "truth" that Tonya Harding/Price wants everyone to know, I was reminded of your riff on Michael Wolff and Stephen Colbert's "truthiness".