"Pursuing Prince Charming"
TABLOID is an entertaining comic documentary from acclaimed filmmaker Errol Morris about an infamous scandal in England in the late 1970s. Part of its story, however, deals with some lewd behavior and nudity, so extreme caution is required.
The movie’s quirky focus is 62-year-old Joyce McKinney, who went to London in 1977 to convince the “love of her life,” Mormon missionary Kirk Anderson, to marry her. According to news reports at the time, Joyce actually kidnapped Kirk and held him hostage in a cottage in Devon, where she seduced him for three days with sex and his favorite foods.
In the documentary, Joyce freely admits her intent was to seduce Kirk away from the Mormon Church, but she claims to this day that he went willingly with her. She also claims he agreed to let her tie him to the bed to get rid of the sexual “repression” and other “brainwashing” his Mormon mother and church leaders had inculcated him. Finally, she outrageously claims that during the three days, she and Kirk became “married in God’s eyes.”
After the three days of “fun, food and sex,” according to Joyce, they ventured out and it became clear that the alleged kidnapping was the talk of the town. So, against her better judgment, Joyce says, she agreed to let Kirk go back to the authorities, with the hope that her attempts to free Kirk from the brainwashing of the cultic Mormon Church would stick. Much to her chagrin, they apparently did not, and Kirk claimed he had been kidnapped and raped. As a result, Joyce was put in jail. However, having been a theater student and beauty queen, she dramatically told her story in open court and was granted bail. Eventually, though, she secretly left England, posing as a deaf mute in the airport and on the plane, and returned to America. Since then, she has never been extradited, although the British authorities sentenced her, in absentia, to a year in jail.
Also interviewed in the movie is a reporter from the Daily Express, who admitted he and his paper worked closely with Joyce, taking her side of the story. The reporter now no longer believes her entire story, only some parts of it. Much of the reason for that lies with his paper’s competition, the Daily Mail, which found scandalous photographs allegedly from Joyce’s previous modeling work in Los Angeles. Though a couple of the photos do look fake, the printed photos show her apparently posing nude in various photos and hiring herself out with a prostitute “friend” of hers as escorts. The movie suggests that Joyce only posed nude, while her friend serviced the clients.
To this day, Joyce denies the nude photos and ads, saying they were all doctored or didn’t involve her. She continues to claim that Kirk remains the love of her life and she only wanted to get married, have his children and live the American dream in a “Leave It to Beaver” house with a white picket fence. During the documentary, she laments all the tabloid publicity her escapades created, but a couple old photos show her having the time of her life after being released, even posing in a goofy disguise as an Indian woman.
In TABLOID, filmmaker Errol Morris clearly views Joyce as an eccentric romantic whose stories should be taken with many grains of salt. He uses, however, some images from one of ex-Mormon Ed Decker’s groundbreaking GOD MAKERS videos exposing Mormonism’s polytheistic, idolatrous teachings to support her antagonism toward Mormon Church theology. These excerpts show the Mormon belief that each Mormon husband will become a god of his own planet, with his wife as a “celestial” partner.
Sadly, although Joyce says she believes in God, some of her statements reflect an immoral, antinomian (or lawless) attitude toward religion. Thus, her admitted attempt to seduce Kirk Anderson out of the Mormon Church with sex was, in effect, trying to fight evil with evil. Also, although Joyce says Kirk was threatened with excommunication from the Mormon Church, one suspects that, if Kirk really wanted to marry Joyce at any time, he would have married her. Regrettably, no one never know what was Kirk’s state of mind at the time he knew Joyce, because he refuses to be interviewed. So, he doesn’t appear in TABLOID.
All in all, TABLOID is a very interesting, entertaining documentary. Morris’s attitude, however, is to let his subjects tell their various stories instead of grilling them to get at the real truth. Thus, he’s more of an ironic, comic storyteller in this movie rather than a real journalist. To his defense, however, trying to ferret out the real and complete truth about Joyce McKinney and her escapades probably is an impossible task. Joyce McKinney clearly enjoys the spotlight and probably could talk your arm off lamenting all the alleged injustices involved in her quirky story. Of course, one of the injustices she feels is this documentary, mostly because it doesn’t take her side concerning the issue of the nude photos and personal ads.
Morris defends his documentary by asserting, “It is a meditation on how we are shaped by the media and even more powerfully by ourselves – by the narratives we construct in our minds that may or may not have anything to do with reality.” Thus, when she was young, Joyce made a conscious decision to pursue the man of her dreams, no matter the cost.
“She didn’t want just any guy,” Morris says. “She wanted a special guy.”
Unfortunately, Joyce picked Kirk Anderson who, for one reason or another, decided that Joyce ultimately didn’t match his idea of what a Mormon wife should be.
“At the end of the movie,” Morris notes after making the movie, “you see a picture of Joyce as a little girl. She says that this story happened to a once-ordinary all-American girl. She wrote this fairy tale about a little girl who lives in a turret high up in a castle, and the prince who comes along to save her. . . . Someone could simply dismiss TABLOID as a scandalous tabloid story, but it’s far more interesting than that. It’s tragic and ironic.”
TABLOID doesn’t shy away, however, from showing the alleged nude photos of Joyce McKinney revealed by the Daily Mirror. It also has some strong lewd sexual references, but not extremely graphic. The good news is that it has no obscenities and only one light profanity. Nevertheless, extreme caution is advised because of the nudity and salacious nature of some of the story’s subject matter.
(PaPaPa, RoRo, HH, C, B, FRFR, L, V, SS, NN, DD, M) Very strong mixed pagan worldview with some strong Romantic elements, a strong ironic humanist tone, some Christian, moral elements referring to God (e.g., female protagonists says, “God knows the truth), exposing the pagan theology of the Mormon church and lauding the American family ideal of a married couple and their children living in a house with a white picket fence but in an idealistic way, and a strong antinomian attitude from the female protagonist that contradicts some of her other statements; no obscenities and one light profanity of “God!”; no onscreen violence but references to holding a gun to kidnap or frighten a person and an incident where suicidal woman almost leaped off ledge; no depicted sex but some lewd comments such as woman claims her desired boyfriend was sexually impotent because of the Mormon cult and strong hints of sex in nude and other salacious photos, including sadomasochistic poses; images of upper female nudity, including with sadomasochistic clothing; no alcohol use; no smoking but a couple references to allegedly using chloroform on a person; and, irony, alleged lying, alleged kidnapping, alleged brainwashing, tabloid exploitation, woman clones her favorite dog, and some moral relativism.
TABLOID is a comic documentary from acclaimed filmmaker Errol Morris about an infamous scandal in England. A young American woman named Joyce McKinney travels to London in 1977 to convince the “love of her life,” Mormon missionary Kirk Anderson, to marry her. According to old news reports, Joyce actually kidnapped Kirk and held him hostage in a cottage in Devon, where she seduced him for three days with her feminine wiles and his favorite foods. At her arraignment, Joyce dramatically told her story, saying Kirk went willingly. While on bail, one tabloid takes Joyce’s side, but another shows what it says are scandalous nude photos of Joyce when she was a model in Los Angeles. Eventually, Joyce secretly left England, posing as a deaf mute to avoid scrutiny, and returned to America. Since then, she has tried to tell her story.
TABLOID is an entertaining documentary about the illusions of youth and the voracious appetite of tabloid newspapers. However, the movie lets its subjects tell their various stories instead of grilling them to get the real truth. There’s also some salacious content and explicit nudity. Therefore, MOVIEGUIDE® advises extreme caution.