Required Watching: "Tabloid" (2010)

Required Watching: "Tabloid" (2010)

By Keith Gatchel

There’s a lot of smart/weird TV out there, and you feel guilty/bored by not watching it. That's why “Required Watching” is here to tell you which documentaries are out there will give you the scope of knowledge that ensures your continued growth/freak you out for a night.

What Happens:

It’s a tale as old as time involving a religion as old as railways. In 1977, former Miss Wyoming, Joyce McKinney, met a young Mormon named Kirk Anderson in Utah and she fell in love. According to her the two had a classic meet-cute while driving. Within days they were ready to run away together. But, suddenly, he disappeared, off on his mission trip to England. To get him back, she recruited her friend, Keith “KJ” May, and hired a pilot named Jackson Shaw (what a name!) to fly them over the ocean and bring him back. Once there, and once he was located, one of two things happened: either Kirk saw her and the two went away for a whirlwind romantic getaway in Ewell, or she raped him.

Joyce McKinney 4.jpeg

Because God invented the buddy system, Anderson’s mission companion saw he was gone and reported them to the cops, and the tabloids ran with it. In response to this, either Kirk decided to go clear things up with the authorities, promising that he would return so the two could get married, or he escaped. McKinney and May got arrested as she thought she was going to her wedding. What followed involves a bail jump, international intrigue (with disguises!), near suicide, a premiere party for “Saturday Night Fever”, and eventually, lots of dog clones.

Joyce McKinney 2.jpeg

Accurate vs Artistic:

If one of the best barometers of a good documentary is how little the director gets in the way, Errol Morris put a machine in his place. He interviews McKinney and Jackson (May died in 2004), as well as several others involved, as experts, or who reported on it. Instead of digging deeper into the case, Morris shifts focus on Peter Tory of the Daily Express and Kevin Gavin at the Daily Mirror, where one portrayed her as a saint and the other a sinner (whichever pushed more issues). This lets the movie drop any pretense that it’s more than a few people and their points of view. And, while Morris makes sure to bounce between interviews and keep the narrative going (along with cartoons, stock footage and stock footage of cartoons), the movie is wound around McKinney’s interview. However many grains of salt you decide to take her story with is up to you. Morris presents all of these witnesses to make their case, up until the story and the evidence intertwine, and you realize you have reason to question both.

Drinking Game:

Take a drink every time someone says “spread-eagle.”

What To Watch After:

You probably saw it in recent years, before Hamilton kicked it out of it's top spot as the cool musical. But, end your night with Andrew Rannell’s 2011 Tony Award performance of “I Believe” from Book Of Mormon, a performance that should’ve won it's own award that year for “Best Bleeping Of The Word Fuck.”

Tabloid is currently available for streaming on Netflix.



McKinney later sued Morris for misrepresentation, but the case got dismissed

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