Documentary Subject Sues Errol Morris For Defamation
Errol Morris's documentary Tabloid is a funny, irreverent and very strange look at Joyce McKinney, a woman who either heroically rescued her Mormon fiance from a cult in England, or kidnapped him and raped him in a cottage against his will. The British tabloids ran with one version of that sotry and Joyce insists on another, and that conflict-- along with the many other strange things in Joyce's colorful life-- make up Morris's irresistible film. But as Tabloid started making the festival rounds last year, even when McKinney would show up to screenings and Q&As, it became clear she wasn't entirely happy with how she had been portrayed on-screen.
Now she's made those complaints very, very public. According to Deadline McKinney has filed a lawsuit against Morris and his documentary crew, claiming "misappropriation of likeness, defamation, misrepresentation, fraud, intentional infliction of emotional distress and breach of contract." In addition to her complaints about the way she was depicted in the movie, McKinney claims she was emotionally abused by several people involved in the production, including producer Mark Lipson, whom she says told her he would rescue a dog from euthanization at an animal shelter, only to let is happen and then taunt McKinney about it.
They're all pretty serious accusations, but McKinney is also trapped in a "boy who cried wolf" situation that's not entirely her fault. Morris's documentary painted her as a fabulist and possibly a liar, someone with less than a firm grip on reality. Now that she's suing, she's guaranteed to be seen by plenty of people as a crackpot-- thanks to the very same people she's suing. It's a no-win situation, really, and though I have no way of knowing how true her claims are, I do feel a little sorry for a woman who feels her identity has been co-opted by a documentary filmmaker. As good as Tabloid is, it might not be worth that cost.
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