The Price of Ratings Gold
In the Believer's January issue, Sarah Marshall delved deep into the story of Nancy Kerrigan and Tonya Harding in the 1994 Olympics with an eye on femininity, celebrity, and the prevailing media narrative of the time. This week we asked her to share her thoughts on ESPN’s latest 30 for 30 documentary, The Price of Gold (now streaming on Netflix) which revisits the same characters and issues.
Are you ready for the Olympics?
The Sochi Games start in two weeks, and if you think you can escape them, you should probably give up that charade right now. Even if you can stay away from Twitter and Facebook and all other social media for sixteen days, even if you can avoid chatty coworkers and emails from friends, even if you can convince yourself that you just don’t care about even the smallest aspect of the Olympics—not the now-inevitable doping controversies, not the ceremonial flourishes and flubs, not the artistic pinnacles reached by the great minds behind the hours’ worth of commercials for Visa and Nike and McDonald’s and Coke—the Olympics will find you. And if you can resist everything else, they will still use their greatest weapon to bring you into the fold: narrative.
Is there any venue that produces more narrative than the Olympic games? Forget all the various writing festivals and conferences that take up the bulk of the calendar year; forget all the graduates of all the MFA programs in the country; forget even the publishing houses. If you want a story, or better yet want to find out what story is, you’ll get a far greater education by spending the night watching the Olympics than you would after a weekend in the library stacks. When it comes to narrative, the Games have it all: the poised young prodigy living her most outrageous dreams; the athlete returning for a second Olympics, determined to prove himself after tragedy, injury, or past failure; and, of course, the rivalry.
If you were wondering what I thought of ESPN’s “The Price of Gold”—and were thinking “I really liked Sarah’s piece in the Believer, but wish it talked more about Sondheim”—you’re in luck!
Sarah Marshall on Tonya Harding, Laura Palmer, and the relative value of female victimhood, Bangor Daily News. January 7, 2014. (via finalgirldom)
Alex interviewed me about Tonya Harding, and somehow the conversation worked its way around to Twin Peaks (as it so often does).