Tonya Harding may be basking in the glory of redemption after regaining the public spotlight created by the movie I, Tonya, but two-time Olympic ice-skater Johnny Weir is having none of it.
In a tweet, Weir coldly threw Harding under the bus while expressing support for Nancy Kerrigan. He went so far as to call the disgraced figure skater a “villain” while dismissing the narrative that Harding’s tough upbringing in any way exonerates her for her involvement in the attack on Nancy Kerrigan.
I am so over the glamorization of a villain simply because she was born on the “wrong side of the tracks.” While her upbringing may have been tragic, athletes come from all walks of life and succeed based on merit, not assault. I won’t applaud her and I stand for Nancy.
— Johnny Weir (@JohnnyGWeir) January 10, 2018
When interviewed by TMZ, Weir doubled down and said, “[Harding] did a horrible, horrible thing. She’s a pariah in our sport and she shouldn’t be forgiven for basically, possibly having the opportunity of ruining somebody’s life.”
For those who don’t remember 1994, Tonya Harding’s ex-husband Jeff Gillooly, in conjunction with her bodyguard, hired a hitman to literally break Nancy Kerrigan’s leg.
As Harding’s main competition, Kerrigan posed the biggest threat to Harding’s Olympic dreams. In the aftermath, Harding was banned from the Olympics and Kerrigan went on to claim a silver medal while competing in Lillehammer. Gillooly testified against Harding, claiming that she conspired with him in the attack. Harding alleges that she was gang-raped by Gillooly and two other men and then threatened with death if she revealed what she knew about the attack.
Since 1994, Harding has endured humiliation after humiliation, having become a public laughing stock and perpetual answer to a trivia question. In the intervening years, she has seen the release of a sex tape, briefly served as a manager for a professional wrestler, and participated in a celebrity boxing reality TV show, which she parlayed into a very brief boxing career (she went 3 for 3 in her boxing career).
On the flip-side, Nancy Kerrigan found herself labeled America’s sweetheart and went on to a lucrative career skating on the pro circuit. She has since starred on the popular TV show Dancing With the Stars.
Because of the pro circuit’s close ties to the United States figure skating association, Harding was blackballed from participating on the pro circuit. Over the years, the narrative of Harding as a hardened, unrepentant villain and Kerrigan as the sweet, innocent victim has grown. And, frankly, rightfully so.
However, the Golden Globe-winning film I, Tonya presents a more complicated picture than most people have of the Harding/Kerrigan controversy. The film starts early in Harding’s life in order to explore her troubled childhood, which included abuse at the hands of her mother. According to the movie, the abuse not only continued but worsened at the hands of Jeff Gillooly after she married him.
One of the sticking points for strong supporters of Nancy Kerrigan is that the movie crafts a narrative that seemingly absolves Harding of any knowledge of her ex-husband’s plans prior to the attack. Weir, alongside other supporters of Kerrigan, believes that the movie rolls back justice and frees Harding from guilt. As far as Nancy Kerrigan’s thoughts on the movie, she told the Boston Globe, “I really have nothing to say about it. I haven’t seen anything. I haven’t watched anything.”