Maybe my first paid post. My buddy asked me to go see I, Tonya. Did that. I had a couple thoughts. First, the obligatory nod to Yoast SEO, aye tonya evil bad. Next, I tried talking to Felina about them. It did not go well. The first thing she said was, “chingada puta.” I thought she meant me. Tonya Harding was the puta.
I’m not ready to talk about the movie yet. So I’ll talk about Felina first. She’s in Puerto Rico helping the family rebuild. The little street market her Dad started grew into an office supply business selling to medical supply manufacturers. Her family’s building was destroyed by Hurricane Maria. Their house was buried under several feet of mud. It took her Mom a couple weeks to find cell phone reception and call Felina. Felina was already planning to go home. When her Mom called a quick convo with Inger and a few clicks on a travel site settled the plans.
All good, no? No. Bae, it seems, claimed that Felina was neither a good Madonna nor a bad Mary. This was a problem. Felina’s resistance to Bae’s ‘spose to’s caused their strife. Worst of all Felina put her family in Puerto Rico ahead of Bae. He wouldn’t leave Richmond with her. She wasn’t understanding. She wasn’t listening. She’s a character on this blog so . . . yeah.
For Felina’s part, that Bae was deep into Call of Duty WWII, hadn’t helped pay a bill in six months, and his one job application hadn’t moved from the coffee table, was a reason his culo podrido should be peeled from its couch cocoon and put outside. She’d be good with an hour of weeding. He waved her off and went back to COD.
In the lobby of the theater when I walked out to pee the two of them were arguing about laundry. Bae claimed that she wasn’t doing it right and btw, had let it go too long. Felina figured, “él es capaz de llevar su trasero de mierda y su ropa putrefacta a la lavandería automática“. Beside’s if she loved him she’d love doing his laundry. Yeah, that . . . didn’t go well.
Aye Tonya Evil Bad
Ok, “I, Tonya.” First, it’s an awesome movie. Go spend the double sawbuck it costs to see it popcorn in hand. This is a movie about what Hollywood fears most. It is also a movie about abusive relationships. Last, it shows how deeply seductive and evil random reward systems are. It touches me because I’ve been both abused and an abuser. I feel Tonya’s pain.
Next, Hollywood wants you to have empathy for Tonya Harding. She’s the victim in this, so it goes. Her asshat husband and his crazy friends conspired to break the knee of Nancy Kerrigan. Tonya survived her Mom’s abuse and in turn, her husband’s abuse. Felina didn’t like the movie. For her, it made Tonya seem like a 19th-century waif suffering from a chronic case of the vapors. Felina wanted a little street justice for marido gilipollas y su amigo.
Felina and Bae were outside the auditorium bickering, “If you understood you wouldn’t leave me for Puerto Rico.” “Pene estúpido,” she swung and missed. He swung back and connected. Theater security saw him connect and that was it.
I’m good with Tonya as a survivor. She had it bad coming up. I get that. I have no truck with Tonya Harding, who triumphed over adversity and came close to Olympic gold. Hollywood . . . tho. The best villain is a white woman? Really? And men are stupid violent pigs on their face? Thanks, ‘preciate that.
Felina saw this draft. I got a 3am text from her, “las mujeres le temen a otras mujeres mucho más de lo que le temen a los hombres.” I never expected that. Most of my baddies are men. Men commit the majority of the domestic violence in this country. “Las mujeres saben cómo manejar a los hombres. Los hombres luchan con armas y puños. Las mujeres usan chismes y ataques a la reputación. Derrotar armas y puños es más fácil que pelear palabras.”
Ok . . . so the mom as the evilest fits Felina’s claim that women are more dangerous than men. Noted. I cheered for Tonya, cried with her and felt that catharsis possible with a good tragedy. Laments work best when you stay dark, stay in the misery, kill the hero at the end. I, Tonya is almost a good tragedy. It fails because Hollywood can’t stomach a deeply evil baddie, especially a woman. Baddies are just misunderstood.
Let’s Talk About Abuse
“I, Tonya” shows us the victim’s side of the cycle. In case you forgot, it goes explosive event, apology, honeymoon, quiet period, tension builds and rinse repeat. The general trend is toward more violent and destructive acts of abuse. It seldom moves toward a healthier relationship. You see that in Tonya’s relationship with her husband. This won’t be news to us who are abusers/victims. Something deep gets rooted in us from abusive parents. We come to trust bitterness as normal. We can’t breathe in relationships that are healthy.
Bitterness tastes sweet to us. So much so that we hunger for it. Tonya Harding had that hunger for bitterness as a gift from her Mom. The hunger is powerful and even though we swear that the last thing we want is more bitter relationships there is something spiritual in us that attracts others who are also addicted to bitterness. We tend to find broken partners that reinforce our own lust for bitterness. I saw that in Tonya’s story.
Felina is an asshat magnet. She has “amo a los chicos malos” emblazoned on her soul. It frustrates her that every time she finds a guy he seems to come around to abuse after the initial heat dies down. Felina went so far toward couch slug In choosing Bae that she picked someone who wore his sloth as an extra dick. She found his tipping point once she started to fight with him about doing something more than consuming large bags of Cheetos and leveling up in COD. He’s done. The movie theater thing happened. Then the restraining order, criminal charges and such. The real test comes once he gets out and it’s, “baby I am sorry.”
The last thing, “I, Tonya” is a stellar example of a powerful reward system—random. The devil knows that he doesn’t have to pay off on every promise. He just has to pay off on enough promises that his subjects remain dedicated to him. Random reward systems drive us to continue a behavior in the hopes that this is the iteration that will pay off. We know if we keep doing the behavior the reward will come. Because the payoff is random we can’t predict when we will be rewarded.
We know that Satan pays sometimes. We believe that we can influence the outcome and be rewarded with a higher payout rate than simply random payouts. So we will do anything to get a hint of the promised reward. The characters in “I, Tonya” were willing to do what it took to get the prize.
Tonya’s most desperate wish was for her Mom to love her unconditionally. This hunger for unconditional love is what her Mom used to get Tonya to work so hard at figure skating. Consciously or not, her Mom’s praise came randomly. Tonya Harding was raised under a random reward system. This instilled a desperate need for bitterness sweetened by the occasional reward of her Mom’s praise. This ache gave her husband the hook that let him keep her in spite of his abusive ways.
Don’t, Just . . . Don’t.
Before I wrap this up I have a plea. Being evil works. You can get people to do things they would never do in the cold light of day. We have enough of that. Please be light and salt.
Random reward systems, abusive people, women as the more frightening baddie, and Felina’s bae moving to the city jail. This is the end. Felina’s reaction to Tonya Harding is that she would have beat the shit out of both the boyfriend and the Mom. Maybe a bit of bravado. We don’t really know what we would do until evil has us in its teeth. With Felina, though, I kind of believe her.
Props to Allison Janney for being as evil as Hollywood allowed. Major, major, epic props to Margot Robbie for a stellar performance. It’s a movie worth the double sawbuck price to see it in a theater.