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Paranoid subject of Errol Morris' Tabloid files appropriately paranoid lawsuit

Just in time for the DVD release of Errol Morris’ Tabloid—which is probably a total coincidence—the documentary’s colorfully paranoid subject Joyce McKinney has filed a colorfully paranoid lawsuit against Morris and its producers, laying out various charges like “misappropriation of likeness, defamation, misrepresentation, fraud, intentional infliction of emotional distress and breach of contract” over the way she was portrayed. The gist of her complaint: By agreeing to explain her side of the story in the seedy “Manacled Mormon” scandal of 1977—in which McKinney is alleged to have kidnapped her Mormon missionary boyfriend and spent several days attempting to rape the piety out of him—McKinney claims that she was duped into reinforcing her earlier tabloid image and garnering even more public ridicule.

McKinney says she only participated in Tabloid because she claims she was offered the chance to “clear her name” in what she thought was to become a series for Showtime (the network where women so often find redemption). Instead, McKinney says, the fact that it was all for a feature-length documentary was just one of the many ways in which she was deceived by Morris and his representatives, who “repeatedly badgered and tricked her” into carting away bins full of newspaper clippings, photographs, and other stolen personal items, ostensibly for Morris’ research. One of the stranger examples of how they toyed with her: McKinney contends that one of these representatives offered to help rescue one of her service dogs from the pound—but not only did they not save it from being euthanized, they let it happen and then “taunted her about it.”  

In short, it’s a scattershot, wide-ranging conspiracy theory that’s every bit as loopy as anything that McKinney says in Tabloid or has said in the many Tabloid screenings she’s attended, where McKinney has been known to heckle the film with shouts of “Liar!” Or, as with its premiere at the New York DOC Festival, to accuse Morris of lying and launch into a bizarre ramble about “how Mormonism destroys people” and the New World Order while her dog symbolically pees on Morris’ leg. That it’s all timed to coincide with the DVD’s release seems part and parcel with McKinney’s ongoing mission to get people to look at her so she can tell them to stop looking at her.   

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