The Corner

Politics & Policy

On I, Tonya

I’m not sure I agree with Kyle’s take on I, Tonya, a film I thought was very good. The point of structuring the film as a comedy is to (in the parlance of undergraduate lit-crit classes) implicate the audience in what happened to Harding, which was the transformation of a vulnerable human being into a figure of fun for the purpose of national mass-media amusement. The filmmakers highlight that point by helpfully having Tonya explain it to the audience—2018 is not a time of subtlety.

As for the racial observation, of course there are comedies, celebrated ones, about hardscrabble black life, with unkind gags often organized around disgust for familiar stereotypes. That’s how “Bye, Felicia” became a national catchphrase for contemptuous dismissal.

It may very well be the case that self-righteous Hollywood types are politically more comfortable satirizing the defects of white underclass culture than they are taking a similarly unsparing eye to the defects of black underclass culture (though I am not entirely sure that is true). I don’t think that actually tells us very much about a film such as I, Tonya or why it is interesting.

On a related subject, I rewatched Idiocracy a few nights ago, and would like to here repeat my apology to Mike Judge for originally having judged that film to be too cynical, too uncharitable, and cruel. Turns out Mike Judge is a prophet. Peace be upon him.

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