Tabloid

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tabloidI have a love/hate relationship with documentaries. They either seem to be so interesting, or so boring; but documentary filmmaker Errol Morris is one of the best in the business.

He’s done Mr. Death, Fast, Cheap, and Out of Control, The Thin Blue Line, and he’s won an Oscar for The Fog of War.

Tabloid might not be the best choice of title, especially when we’re hearing so much in the news lately about News of the World and the scandal involving that British tabloid periodical.

Perhaps they couldn’t use the title McKinney and the Manacled Mormon, since a newspaper already has. I would’ve gone with Barking Mad, or something that used the Miss Wyoming title, incorporating a pun with the word “why”.

This is about Joyce McKinney, the former Miss Wyoming who claims to have an IQ of 168. In fact, she claims a lot of things. Some of them true, and as we watch this, we realize most of it isn’t. That doesn’t make it any less compelling; perhaps it has the opposite affect.

You may have felt guilty watching sad sack Stan in Strongman. That’s understandable. He wasn’t the sharpest tool in the shed.

This woman is smart (not 168, but…). She’s just bat-sh*t crazy.

Here’s the scoop.

In 1977, McKinney fell hard for a young man that was a Mormon. He went on a mission, and she got it in her head that he belonged to a cult and needed to be kidnapped and deprogrammed.

She hired a pilot to fly her and some goons to England. She had suitcases filled with money, which nobody could figure out how she obtained.

The man was kidnapped, tied to a bed, and raped for two days. When arrested and charged with these crimes, she used an argument you sometimes hear when female teachers are accused of raping/molesting male students. She said “You can’t rape a man. That would be like putting a marshmallow in a parking meter.”

McKinney has a number of funny phrases that spew out of her mouth.

I couldn’t help but think of the Casey Anthony case, when they talked about chloroform used in the kidnapping. I again thought of that case when I realized just how nuts McKinney is. Often times people won’t believe a woman could murder their own child. When you watch a film like this, you realize people that sound and look normal, might not be.

I thought of an old high school friend I ran into a few years back. He admitted to stalking his previous girlfriends. This is a man with a great job, a big house, and he’s probably going to end up in jail. I tried talking sense into him, but it fell on deaf ears.

I’ve known people that tell lies the way she does, and continue doing so even when caught in them. I guess if the storyteller sounds convincing enough, they believe their own lies.

McKinney got a level of fame she probably enjoyed at the time – hanging out with John Travolta after Saturday Night Fever screened, being kissed by Keith Moon (The Who). This was in a decade where you couldn’t make the money she’d surely make today if those same things transpired.

I had a few Mormon friends growing up, but I knew little about that religion.

According to this documentary, they have secret underwear and believe when you die you become a god with your own planet.

I also learned a lot more about McKinney. She got those suitcases of money from doing nude photos and dabbling in prostitution and bondage. She made the news again a few years back when she paid to have a Korean scientist clone her dog for a few hundred thousand dollars (the stories she tells about the dogs are just as crazy as anything else she has to say).

You’ll watch the movie trying to decide what your favorite story was. I enjoyed her explaining things to the viewer as if we didn’t know what she meant. One of those moments was her talking about one of the many disguises she used. She made a fat suit and explained, “You know what a fat suit is? Like Norbit.”

At the time this story broke, men everywhere thought this was their dream woman. They sent marriage proposals with their address and requests to be kidnapped and made a sex slave. I got to admit, when she stocked the refrigerator with mashed potatoes and chicken – his favorite meal – I thought it could be the ideal woman. After listening to her talk, I’m guessing most people will say “I’ve dated somebody like that. It was a nightmare.”

Sure, the mashed potatoes and sex were great, but…

If you want to see a documentary where a wacky woman and a wacky religion collide – and you don’t feel guilty laughing at a woman that clearly is ill – see this immediately.

The film is well-done, with a creepy musical score, nice animated touches and cuts, and fun graphics splashed on the screen.

The fact that this is the most enjoyable Morris film I’ve seen, is probably the same reason I feel guilty when at the dentists office, I reach for the People magazine over Time.