Behind The Curve [Celluloid Hero]
Behind the Curve (2018)
I love conspiracy theories. I love the ones that sound legit at first, I love the ones that are absurd from square one, and I especially love the three that I truly believe in*. The Flat Earth conspiracy fascinates me because there seem to be so many different levels of conspiracy. There are people who truly believe the Earth is flat, people who join ironically or to mock, then there are people who think that Flat Earthers are just part of a larger cover-up or have been planted to discredit the real Flat Earthers. It's tough to figure out, and "Behind the Curve" crams as much as it can into an hour and a half.
Mark Sargent is the "King" of the Flat Earthers. He isn't the originator though, as that claim is staked by Matt Boylan, aka Math Powerland. Sargent is just the voice that cut into the mainstream first, building a following on YouTube that has spawned fans around the world. People created their own YouTube channels and podcasts and Facebook groups, all trying to spread their truth. Sargent is interesting because he's not a raving lunatic - he seems like a kind of socially awkward dude who suddenly found people that say he's awesome, and he's latched on to it and devoted his life to it.
While Sargent is the focus of about 2/3rds of the movie, we also meet with Patricia Steere, the Podcast Queen of Flat Earth; a few other podcasters or YouTubers who try to prove the Earth is flat with various experiments, and then of course a few guys who are just unhinged. The flipside is also represented well, with professionals ranging from high school physics teachers to psychiatrists to astrophysicists to Scott Kelly.
The best part, and really the key to the whole thing, was that the documentarians didn't press the Flat Earthers. They did a good job of letting them hang themselves on a few occasions, and there were moments I wished the filmmakers had just gone for the kill, but a very poignant speech by an actual scientist highlighted how attacking a Flat Earther for being "stupid" or "crazy" isn't the way to go about it - you have to embrace them for their desire to learn and experiment, but just try to convince them that when their experiment gives results counter to what they believe, they can't just alter the experiment or alter the outcome or alter reality to fit their view.
[Celluloid Hero] gives "Behind the Curve" a 6 out of 10.