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'I, Tonya' and the Great “Unlikable” Female Characters of 2017

'I, Tonya' and the Great “Unlikable” Female Characters of 2017
From Slashfilm - December 4, 2017

As far as unlikable characters go, Olympic figure skater Tonya Harding has always been in a league of her own. Shes got a potty mouth. Shes never really cared about making friends. Shes generally just not nice. And oh yeah, she was kinda sorta involved in one of the biggest sports scandals evera criminal plot to literally attack the Americas sweetheart of figure skating, Nancy Kerrigan. Folks might get past the sharp tongue and cold stares, but if there is anything that will turn them off faster it is when a high-profile figure comes for the girl next door (just ask Kanye). Top that with the brazenly conservative 90s media takedown of the supposed black sheep of figure skating, who had frizzy hair, a bad attitude, smoked, and whose mom made her costumesall of which were strictly taboo in the elite world of pretty upper crust young women who could twirl on ice.

So Harding didnt really stand a chance in that world, especially during that time. And it has left such a deep stain on her image that, even to this day ,she remains written off. But the new filmI, Tonyasees to it that her story gets told anyway and in her own words, whether people want to hear it or not.

Calling the moviea satire would diminish the fact that its a true story about a woman who always got the short end of the stick and somehow found the drive to keep fighting anyway. However,, its so biting and matter-of-fact that it makes you chuckle at timessometimes out of discomfort but other times because Margot Robbie as Harding and Allison Janney as Hardings mom are just so pretentious about all the wrong things that you laugh to keep from feeling sorry for them. Its a compelling story seeped in bitterness and nostalgiaover what was and what never becamethat you begin to wonder why it took so long for to give her complete agency even when it stings. But then you remember, women like Harding are supposed to be marginalized, because its easier for us to continue throwing rocks at them that way.

Does that mean that characters like Harding deserve a second chance, or even a first chance at redemption in the case of Mildred (Frances McDormand) in Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri? Shes more than a little curmudgeonly, stemming from the heinous rape and murder of her daughter whose perpetrators remain free. Actually, Mildred is stark raving mad, waging war against the police department, her teenage son Robbies (Lucas Hedges) disrespectful high school peers, and one racist, hotheaded cop (Sam Rockwell) whoin her own wordswould much rather harass innocent black men than bring to justice her daughters killers. Obviously, shes got a lot to be angry about with good reason.

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