Nothing short of God herself will stop me from seeing ‘I, Tonya’
I feel the need to tell you right upfront that I am wholeheartedly, unabashedly, evangelically “Team Tonya.”
“Are you Team Tonya or Team Nancy?” It’s something I like to get out of the way when I meet someone at a party, on a first date or in a job interview. Where you see yourself falling on the Tonya Harding/Nancy Kerrigan divide tells me all I need to know about you and the breadth of your knowledge of American herstory.
I was thrilled when I heard in 2016 that there was a Harding-focused movie in the works. When I found out Margot Robbie was playing Harding, I was intrigued. When I heard Emmy award-winning character actress Allison Janney would portray Harding’s villainous mother LaVona, I sloughed off this mortal coil and ascended to a new plane of gay enlightenment where I now live.
To say I feel personally invested in the Harding narrative — both the specifics of her life story and the mirror it holds up to American pop culture — is a bit of an undersell.
As a white millennial gay, I am obviously contractually obligated to have a deep knowledge of the events leading up to that fateful 1994 leg smash in Detroit and the subsequent tabloid aftermath. Moreover, I have studied every available documentary, YouTube interview, made-for-TV movie, museum exhibit and microfiche available to me on the subject. I am ready for this movie.
That’s why, when the teaser trailer for the upcoming dark-comedy biopic I, Tonya dropped Thursday, I clicked play with a heady mix of pleasure, anxiety and raw adrenaline pulsing through my veins. You can probably imagine my visceral reaction when the first onset shots of Margot Robbie in a fat suit and dishwater blonde Shake-N-Go leaked online. The trailer more than delivers on the promise of that wig.
The trailer for I, Tonya begins with Robbie snuffing out a cigarette with her ice skate and subsequently igniting a fire in my soul. While a series of images from the film flash before us, Robbie monologues offscreen in her best Oregonian accent. She waxes philosophical about love, hate, America and truth and, through a bit of movie magic, even appears to ice skate. This teaser has it all: slo-mo, fast-mo, cheering crowds, a flash of violence, a triple-axle — and a wordless Allison Janney slurping down a well cocktail, stealing the scene and our hearts. When it was done, I immediately scrolled back to Janney’s cameo just to scream all over again.
This was my face throughout each of the 52 glorious seconds in I, Tonya’s first teaser trailer:
Although the trailer in its current form is highly effective, it would have been just as thrilling as a single unbroken shot of Janney, speaking directly into the camera, calmly stating the name of the movie and its release date.
Reviews from the festival circuit have been skewing positive so far, but even if they weren’t, it wouldn’t matter to me in the least. Nothing you could tell me about the content, tenor or running time of this movie could stop me from seeing I, Tonya. No family emergency, nuclear winter, government shutdown, environmental disaster — or God herself — could stop me from seeing this movie. Harding didn’t have any corporate sponsors nor a rink to practice in, and did that stop her? No! She made her own costumes, practiced in a shopping-mall rink and went on to place eighth at the 1994 Winter Olympics. I, too, will create my own costume and make my way to the theater to pay homage to Harding and to honor her story.
The trailer only tells us I, Tonya is coming out in “winter 2017,” but no matter the actual release date, the day I, Tonya comes out will be Christmas for me.