Media and Hidden Agendas
Nineteen-sev enty-seven. A beauty, a Mormon, kidnapping and sexual exploitation. And all this makes for a grand cocktail war between two British tabloids to fight for their share of circulation. Because of excessive press coverage, the truth never came out as both sides (the tabloids) drew their own conclusions and almost everything became controversial and confusing and it remains so even till date.
Joyce McKinney was a beauty queen (Miss Wyoming). She fell in love with a handsome American man Kirk Anderson. But Kirk became a Mormon, something McKinney could not digest. She, with the help of an accomplice, kidnapped Kirk, handcuffed him (chain or rope?), and made him a sex slave. But there are different versions of the story. As per the records of British police, she, along with her accomplice, fled to Canada, donning a red wig and became part of a mime troupe. But McKinney has a different version to tell in this documentary, the same as she told years back. As per her version, she simply saved Kirk from a religious cult, both of them has consensual sex, both enjoyed it and there was no abduction, sex slavery or rape.
Two British tabloids - "The Daily Mirror" and "The Daily Express" - used this case to increase their circulation during that period of time. The incidence became known as "the Mormon sex in chain" story. So many inferences were drawn that total truth remains elusive till today.
And now enters Errol Morris, the renowned director of "The Thin Blue Line" , to make a documentary on the whole episode. Morris mainly centres his film on Joyce McKinney. How she looks, how she presents herself, her explanations and her life before and after this controversial incidence. He also brings other people involved at various stages of the case. The victim Kirk Anderson refuses to go public. Actually, he refused to go to the press even during the tabloid war in late 1970s. His version, thus, still remains elusive.
So, this film is basically about McKinney. Was she a nude model during early 1970s ? Police nods, but she says the photos were morphed but her explanation doesn't look convincing. Morphed photos were so crude and uncommon during that period of time. And why anybody would morph an unknown girl?
But she has a lot of dramatics to justify herself and a ready stock of tears as well. Sometimes she looks convincing but on many occasions her explanations appear bizarre. She is a case study for psychology. Why she did this kidnapping drama? Was it love? Or infatuation… plain thrill or pure stupidity? The answer never comes clear in this documentary and director Morris leaves it to the imagination of the viewers.
McKinney was at the centre of controversy again during the later part of her life. It was about cloning of her dog. She went to South Korea and cloned her dog at the lab of Dr Hong and gathered a lot of negative press for that. But she has some innocent explanation for every controversy.
Quite a watchable documentary with some nice technical innovations by the director that makes one sit and listen to what various characters have to say. One may have to watch it twice to completely understand Joyce McKinney.
The star cast includes Joyce McKinney as herself, Peter Tory, Troy Williams, Jackson Shaw, Kent Gavin and Dr Hong - all themselves. Film was released to public during November 2011 and runs 87 minutes. It is produced by Air Loom Enterprises and Moxie Pictures.