Behind the Curve

Behind the Curve is a 2018 documentary about flat-Earthers. It is fun and well-made, though it felt like a guilty pleasure because it dunks on an easy target of an outgroup. (The framing sometimes reminded me of atheist videos of the 2000s.) I think I have a much better model of flat-Earthers than before I saw this film. As a leader of the movement Mark Sargent admits (not in these exact words), flat Earth is the final boss of conspiracy theories. You get into everything else, like Moon landing conspiracy theories and creationism, before you dare to go there. It is a junkie’s drug.

However, it is also a community and a counterculture. There are movement songs, romances and heartbreak, schisms, conflicts over credit, “failed” scientific experiments with costly equipment, and accusations of being a Warner Brothers executive (= a fed). In a moment so poignant it feels staged, one advocate becomes the center of conspiracy theories about her being a CIA plant and transgender. She talks with frustration about her accusers, and how there is no evidence she can present to change their mind. She asks, “Am I another version of them, and I don’t know it?”