Tanya Harding appeared on HBO Sports recently in a full length interview that dug up the old story of Nancy Kerrigan’s kneecap and the ice skating Olympics. Harding says she’s paid her debt to society, done her time, and wants to move on.
I remember when their story first broke in the nineties. Even though I was still a kid, it was immediately clear that Harding and Kerrigan were way over their heads in terms of dealing with the media. A friend made a comment regarding the story that I recall whenever I see a normal person get overwhelmed with sudden media coverage:
“If they give you a lawyer when you get arrested, they oughta give you a publicist when you get a headline.”
As the world continues to shrink and we all become potential overnight celebrities, there may come a day when the right to a publicist will be as inalienable a right as that of a man indicted to an attorney. For now, accidental celebrities are left to there own devices. Harding’s voluntary return to the spotlight revealed that she hasn’t learned much about interacting with the media in the decade since the Olympics fiasco. She was clearly speaking to the interviewer as if she was speaking to the viewers, a classic mistake. When you are on tape you aren’t speaking to a human being, you’re speaking to corporations and media outlets, soulless citizens that will take your statements and rearrange them however they need to. When you are representing yourself on camera, you are in front of a jury of millions, but you don’t have a streaming feed. The things you say will be edited and spliced by the machinations of the media until they put together a broadcast that will keep consumers in there seats. Justice simply doesn’t come into the equation.
In the interview, she seemed confused as to why paying her fines, doing her time, and dealing with a decade of shame isn’t enough for society, or the media, to let her just get on with her life. If Harding wants a straight answer, she should ask a Jungian psychologist, not a HBO Sports Newsman. In a society without saints or roman gods and goddesses, citizens seek to see mirrors of themselves wherever they can, whether it be the flickering shadows of a prehistoric campfire in a cave or the flickering blue glow of Entertainment tonight.