Sex, Lies and Tabloids!
Directed by Jean-Baptiste Peretie • Documentary • 2015 • 52 minutes
They're lurid, obnoxious, disdainful and explicit. And we love them - and love to hate them. SEX, LIES AND TABLOIDS! charts the rise and fall of tabloid papers in the UK and US, including the New York Post, The Sun, and notorious supermarket tabloids like the National Enquirer and The Star. In the beginning, they were upstarts. Papers that shamelessly pandered with stories about sex scandals, and celebrities - often skirting ethical lines, and sometimes outright making things up ('Run it through the typewriter again,' was one editor's mantra.) But by the 1980s and '90s they had become the media heavyweights. Left behind by the tabloids' coverage of Bill Clinton's sex life, Princess Diana and the OJ Simpson trial, the mainstream media started to adopt their techniques. SEX, LIES AND TABLOIDS! features extensive interviews with key tabloid players such as notorious editor Kelvin MacKenzie ('If you have no news... you get a picture of Diana and make it as big as possible'), journalist Paul McMullan ('People need to understand that privacy is an evil, bad concept'), and the late Vincent Musetto (famed for the headline 'Headless body in topless bar'). The film provides an insider's account of the no-holds-barred mentality driving tabloid journalism while also using fun and campy footage mimicking the style of the tabloids themselves. Eventually, the tabs would go too far. Briefly chastened by the death of Diana and shunned after the British phone hacking scandal, the papers would go into a downward spiral, with The News of the World even shutting down. But culture they spawned is stronger than ever. Sites like TMZ and The Smoking Gun and an omni-present gotcha culture have brought the spirit of the tabloids to the Internet. At the same time, the ubiquity of sharing means photos...