I've always regarded Mommie Dearest as the campiest of fun cult classics, but it irritates me to think of Christina being so thoroughly dismissed based on factors like her mother having defenders or her being on friendly terms with Joan just prior to her death.
I was abused (for a relatively brief period of time) by my own mother when I was young. I mostly blamed myself for years, indicting myself for things Christina has been accused of (being abrasive, strong-willed, self-centered, and on and on), and it has been only recently that I've been vocal about the extreme emotional pain I've kept inside me. All this time, I've continued to love my mom and have attempted to cultivate a good relationship with her, so I can't see Joan and Christina's alleged good terms at the end of the former's life as evidence that Christina is a liar. Most of us seek our parents' acceptance and approval--especially those of us who have felt rejected and demeaned by them in the past.
To my utter amazement, I found that none of my siblings believed my detailed memories of physical and emotional abuse. As with Christina/Christopher and the twins, there's an age difference between my siblings and me, and they have fond memories of my mother, who was in a much different place emotionally when she raised them--indeed, she's near sainthood in their eyes. Both age gaps and gender can really affect perceptions. Because I was too ashamed to speak up for all of those years and because I didn't want to rock the boat, they now accuse me of lying since I never spoke of these events earlier. Speaking about my experiences now that I'm no longer ashamed and afraid has strengthened me and improved my self-esteem, but it's also destroyed my reputation with my family. Like Joan, my mom's always been an attractive, vivacious woman with lots of friends ("fans!"), while I've always been rather reserved and "different." She denies that any abuse ever took place; whether she's too ashamed to admit it or has just erased it from her memory in her old age, I don't know. In any case, it's much easier for my family to believe that I'm a horrible person who's trying to make my mother look back (for what purpose or gain, I have no idea).
What I'm trying to say is that families can be extremely complicated and full of secrets. It's disturbing how often society seeks to discount and berate victim accounts, especially if the victim is a woman; also if the woman is pitted against a more beautiful or famous or well-loved person. And if the victim is adopted, how dare she speak up! Another factor that magnifies this way of thinking, I believe, is the adulation and martyr factor that we automatically ascribe to parents, especially mothers, and especially white mothers. They usually get the benefit of the doubt and are further martyred by the eventual courage of "ungrateful" children who are really just seeking some kind of closure and maybe an apology that will likely never arrive.