At the height of the Tonya Harding/ Nancy Kerrigan scandal in the nineties, I remember reading about Ms. Harding, “there is a real trailer park mentality going on there.” Agreeing I stored that away, and whenever I saw Harding on TV or in the news, I applied that quote to her. Brash, attention seeking at all costs, defiant, entitled, she was a shameless self promoter, but also a fiercely competitive and dedicated athlete. She was also her own worst enemy, and a constant danger to herself.
In this very funny, very acerbic and often vicious biography of the skater Harding is portrayed by the gifted and gorgeous actress Margot Robbie of The Wolf of Wall Street (2013) and Suicide Squad (2016). In her portrayal of the fallen Olympian she finds the perfect note for her performance which is to blame everyone else for her troubles, claim to be put upon, and go through her life with this massive chip on her shoulder. She is cocky, defies the judges to say something negative to her, driven arrogant, and ambitious. Knowing her only way out of the life she has lived is through skating, she decides very early to be the very best.
There was a time Harding might have been the best in the world. She was certainly among the best three and arguably the finest in the United States. Yet she lacked social graces, couch, she was vulgar, known to swear like a hockey player and was promiscuous. While other skaters had money behind them, she did not. Ever. Her outfits were home made or hand me downs, only her talent truly belonged to her. She was right in assuming the judges were against her, they certainly were.
Her mother, Latona Golden, a chain-smoking abusive woman was known to beat, humiliate, harass, insult, and abuse Harding emotionally, though she would claim it to be in the good of her career, pushing her to the next level. She excused her horror show treatment of her daughter stating she made her a champion, but at what cost?
So no question, Harding had it rough. In fact no one really knows the horrors she endured as a child.