One of the go-to expressions quoted most often by lazy writers in order to sound super literary goes something like, “F. Scott Fitzgerald said there are no second acts in America. But Fitzgerald never met [insert name here].” The truth is, he said very much the opposite. In an essay titled My Lost City, the man who once wrote a novel that 90 years later would give DiCaprio the chance to look hot AF in a tux actually said, “I once thought that there were no second acts in American lives, but there was certainly to be a second act to New York’s boom days.” That said, Fitzgerald never met Tonya Harding. But it sounds like he would’ve understood her second act, which last night culminated into America sending her to the finals of Dancing With the Stars.
In the mid-90s, Tonya was the most reviled woman of the age. Universally denounced as an evil, conniving, podunk white trash embodiment of all the darkness that dwellth within the human soul. If it had been the mid-1690s, we’d have dragged her ass up to Salem and set fire to her. She had not only been involved in the attack on Nancy Kerrigan, she committed the unpardonable sin of ruining the world’s most pure and sacred institution: The Olympic Figure Skating Finals:
Then to make matters worse, she appeared in a leaked celebrity sex tape back when that was still frowned upon. Meaning, before it became the path to get your foot in the door of Ryan Seacrest Productions. At that point, she could’ve gone on TV, eaten a Goldendoodle puppy, taken a dump on a Bible and wiped with the American flag and her popularity would not have gone down.
Today? She was the subject of one of the most acclaimed and IMHO best films of 2017. She got the hottest woman in Hollywood to play her. And now, has entered a dance competition and outlasted the likes of Kareem Abdul Jabbar, Johnny Damon, a couple of snowboarders, and Mirai Nagasu, a 24-year-old Olympic medalist. And to advance to the finals last night, she had to share the stage with and out-dance Jennie Finch. Which she did. Meaning in the eyes of the judges and the public, this woman …
… was beaten by this:
Spotting Jennie Finch 10 years and about three feet of leg, America’s one time Bad Girl who was kicked out of her sport in disgrace Cha-Cha’ed circles around the competition. With the same fight and tenacity she showed when she was landing Triple Axels during the Clinton Administration. And in doing so, won over the public like Rocky in the Soviet Union on Christmas Day. And, as Barstool’s resident skating guy, I’m proud to point out that of the three remaining dancers two are skaters, Tonya and my man Adam Rippon.
But to get the coveted Mirror Ball trophy, they’re going to have to fight their way past Josh Norman in ways that Odell Beckham Jr. never could. It’ll be tough because Norman tears up the floor. All I know is that I wouldn’t count Tonya out for a second. She might have kneecapped her way onto our Public Enemies list 24 years ago, but in the last month she has danced her way back into our hearts.