Errol Morris specializes in stories that challenge preconceived notions and recieved truth. With TABLOID, he allows Joyce McKinney, the center of a tabloid frenzy involving sex and religion, the tabloid reporter and the tabloid photographer who told the tale to the multitudes in search of salacious story, and a gay Mormon activist who met Joyce after the fact, to tell differing versions of the story that, while often mutually exclusive, may still all be true. In this Morris is telling the viewer about him or herself as much as he is the subject of his documentary. When we spoke on May 3, 2011, he discussed his interviewing style that elicits intimate and unselfconscious disclosures, why the term “simple truth” is an oxymoron, and how Joyce set him off on a reading binge.
TABLOID is his consideration of McKinney, a former Miss Wyoming, and her romantic pursuit of Kirk Anderson, a Mormon obliged to live chastely until marriage. The literal pursuit took her from Utah to England in 1977, where she became tabloid fodder as the center of what came to be known as the case of the manacled Mormon. McKinney tells her version of what she calls the simple truth of how Kirk, the love of her life and a man almost twice her size, ended up in a Devonshire cottage tied to a bed, and of the subsequent arrest and legal proceedings. Peter Tory, a reporter for a London tabloid, and Kent Gavin, a tabloid photographer, tell another version, while Troy Williams, successful Mormon missionary and gay activist, comments on the Mormon factor. Disguises, handcuffs, and daring cross-border gambits are only the beginning as McKinney dedicates her life to her love for Kirk and ends up finding true love in a most unexpected avenue involving cutting edge biotechnology and yet another bout of tabloid headlines.