Tuesday, August 2, 2011


Errol Morris’s Tabloid recalls Janet Malcolm’s The Journalist and the Murderer, about the relationship between writer Joe McGinniss and serial murderer Jeffrey MacDonald, to the extent that it is a narrative about narrative and about the mutually predatory relationship between subject and object in journalism. Morris’s film also recalls the JonBenét Ramsey case in that it is rooted in the culture of the beauty pageants in which its subject, Joyce McKinney, was raised. The sordid chain of events the film depicts goes on to encompasses obsessive love, kidnapping and prostitution. Britain’s Daily Express and Daily Mirror fought over the story of the “Manacled Mormon” (McKinney purportedly kidnapped and raped Mormon Kirk Anderson), and Morris enters the fray as a Johnny-come-lately, the way Malcolm did in the Jeffrey MacDonald case, by assuming a new level of agency as he makes his contribution as a not-always-objective observer. The movie is deceptive in its comic-strip sensibility, complete with action panels, but underneath are very real players in complex relationships. McKinney’s bodyguard, KJ, is enthralled with her, while she in turn is obsessed with Anderson. “Spread Eagled” was another tabloid headline about the affair, and it’s a metaphor for the plight of the storyteller, who is hard put to get a grasp on the personality of a psychopath. McKinney, who skipped bail, would emerge years later when a Korean geneticist cloned her dog Booger. She parrots Brigitte Bardot in the end, saying, “I gave my youth to men and in my old age the dogs all love me.” Despite being the victim of a bizarre burglary in which all her files were stolen, McKinney is now attempting to embellish the myth she created by trying her hand at writing about it.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.