One year ago at the DOC NYC Documentary Festival, Tabloid subject Joyce McKinney made a surprise appearance and berated the crowd for laughing at her. She also complained to and about director Errol Morris for allegedly deceiving her in the process of making the film, which tells the story of McKinney’s days as a tabloid celebrity in the UK for supposedly kidnapping her Mormon ex-boyfriend.
Now, not at all surprisingly, she has filed a suit against Morris, producers Ajae Clearway and Mark Lipson, Moxie Pictures, Sundance Selects and IFC Films. According to Deadline, she seeks “compensatory, punitive and other damages as well as civil penalties, attorneys’ fees and court costs.”
Reminiscent of the lawsuits filed by misled subjects against the makers of Borat, the claims here are “misappropriation of likeness, defamation, misrepresentation, fraud, intentional infliction of emotional distress and breach of contract.” McKinney says she was told Morris was working on a Showtime series that would clear her name, but instead she has been set up for pubic ridicule, and her scandalous reputation has been reawakened.
Worst of all, she alleges Lipton agreed to help save her service dog from being put to death, but then he let the animal die and taunted her about it. Also, McKinney says the production stole personal memorabilia of hers.
Although I’m certain the lawsuit is without merit and will be thrown out (there is no way a vet like Morris uses faulty waivers), and I believe McKinney to be a huge attention whore, I do agree that she’s the victim of a humiliating experience (when is it okay to laugh at a documentary subject?). But it’s as much her own doing as Morris’s. She seems too smart not to have anticipated some level of resurfaced disgrace.
Check out the video from last year’s DOC NYC below. And if you’ve seen the film (now on video), let me know if you think she’s actually a victim or just playing the victim for attention, or both.