Sochi Olympics 2014: 'Nancy & Tonya' Airs Tonight, So Here's Your Guide to the Scandal
We've already talked about how Nancy & Tonya is an unnecessary addition to the glut of media attention capitalizing off of one of the most traumatic events in sports history. Whether or not post-Olympics skating fans need another documentary on this topic, we have one, and now we have to decide how to watch it. Sure, we could try to ignore the NBC special, but inevitably, Twitter will blow up with commentary on Nancy's statements, Tonya's involvement, and the overall media spectacle that is Nancy & Tonya. So here are all of the things you need to know to be an informed spectator to another rehash of the knee-capping scandal of 1994, before watching Nancy & Tonya tonight.
First and foremost, the extensive coverage and re-coverage of Nancy Kerrigan's injuries, as well as her rivalry with Tonya Harding, has generally made their lives worse, not better. Although the 30 for 30 film, The Price of Gold , showed some of the media spectacle that these skaters endured, it didn't quite capture how much of their lives were public. From Tonya giving interviews about abuse at 16 to the video cameras trained on a crying, injured Nancy, the media has exploited these girls since they were teenagers. One reporter even asked Nancy why she thought someone would hit her right after the accident, which left her visibly jarred. Nancy has always been quiet about the scandal, and now, in Nancy & Tonya, the media is once again forcing her to play the victim. This special is touted as the documentary where Nancy "opens up," but it seems that Nancy and Tonya have been "open" enough already.
It's also important to remember that money was (and is) a huge factor in the scandal. Tonya came from an impoverished and abusive household, which led to an abusive marriage and a lack of knowledge about how to land endorsements, which ultimately hurt her career. She also couldn't afford a fancy private rink, so she practiced throughout her career in the middle of a mall in Oregon. Nancy also came from a blue-collar background, although her "ladylike" qualities won her points in competition, and endorsements with major retailers. So, when we watch NBC trot out two women who clearly want to put this behind them, lets all remember that economic disparity definitely made it more difficult for them to skate, and family background made Tonya's childhood rough.
On the other hand, we can't blame the victim here. Nancy Kerrigan was the victim of a violent crime, which she is forced to relive every time the American public demands a new documentary. If you're watching the new installment of this horrid multi-decade saga remember: this isn't just some faceless tabloid scandal, but a story of media exploitation, wealth disparity, and, ultimately, trauma.