Documentary tells story of Joyce McKinney.
When American blonde bombshell Joyce McKinney kidnapped her Mormon ex-boyfriend, whisked him away to a cottage in the English countryside, handcuffed him to a bed, and forced the guy to have sex with her, British newspapers went crazy. But wait, that's just one version of the truth.
As chronicled in Errol Morris' new documentary Tabloid, London newspapers peppered their front pages with titillating photo spreads and private letters as the jailed beauty queen went to trial in 1977 for absconding with her virgin lover Kirk Anderson.
Was McKinney a depraved sexual predator or a misunderstood romantic whose only crime came in offending Church of Mormon power brokers?
Morris does not offer answers, but he does raise questions about the roots of Snoop Culture that this month forced World of the News to an early grave. Contrasted with that tabloid's illegal phone-hacking intrusions, reportage on the McKinney story more than three decades ago looks quaint in retropsect.
Daily Express stressed the good girl angle, sending a journalist to North Carolina for McKinney's side of the story after she'd fled kidnapping charges by impersonating a nun at Heathrow Airport.
In search of salacious detail, a Mirror photographer took the opposite tack, traveling to Los Angeles where he excavated photographs of McKinney that made her appear more like a prostitute and less like the "model" she listed on her resume.
When McKinney, midway through her PR spin sessions with Express journalist Peter Tory learned that topless pictures of her made the Mirror's front page, she tried to leap out the hotel window.
One can only imagine how McKinney's story would have unfolded had she been born 40 years later.
Reality TV: Bravo would surely cast her in The Mormon Housewives of North Carolina, featuring semi-scripted dramatic conflicts built around the issue: will she or won't she get back together with that killjoy fiancee of hers?
Twitter: The chatty McKinney could update her official trial transcripts for tweet gold like "OMG, I'd totally ski down Mount Everest naked to be with Kirk."
YouTube: Sex tape equals no-brainer.
Cult of Personality: Joyce goes viral with a book deal, a line of fragrances, rehab, and a primetime "redemption interview" with Diane Sawyer.
Whether or not she committed any actual crimes, in pop culture terms, proto-celebrity Joyce McKinney got everything right but the timing.
Tabloid opens Friday .