Jonestown and how its postmodern

Jonestown documents the massacre of over 900 people in one day at a small religious community cut in Guyana. Founded by Jim Jones, the religious community began in Indianapolis, Indiana in the 1950’s and eventually moved to San Francisco to support itself. Jones was charismatic and persuasive, and combined his liberal civil rights views with his religious preachings to create a powerful yet controlled fanaticism that did much good, but eventually became catastrophic.
Several elements reflect Postmodern thought. The first of which is the actual subject material: the rise and fall of the community called the Peoples Temple. Jones made it clear that he was setting himself up to people as whatever they wanted him to be. If they wanted a leader, it was him. If they wanted a friend, it was him. If they wanted a God, it was him. He took away the God of religion and set himself in its place. Postmodern thought is known for its refusal to acknowledge the artist or author’s meaning or reasons for creating a work of art or literature, and instead rests with the viewer or reader. The same with religion. There was no christianity for people here, but if they wanted religion they could read whatever they wanted into Jones’s organization, and that was true to them. They could see him as a prophet if they chose. Unfortunately, that was exactly what he wanted.
There was also a definite breakaway from civil and social norms. Modernism had helped create the social sciences, even some that weren’t in practice anymore. Eugenics and sciences dealing with race helped foster in America a strong racism that was rampant during the sixties and seventies. Jones and his followers broke from any type of racist notions and considered all people equal, which was a true form of free thought at the time. It definitely broke from the modernist social sciences and those who used it to propagate racism. Most of Jones’s followers eventually left the United States to form a separate community in Guyana. They weren’t going to accept even America’s laws or social traditions, but instead create their own. They redefined culture and society to what they felt was true and applicable to them.
The actual documentary is also postmodern. There is little if any narration. It is all a splicing of different eyewitnesses and participators who tell their story. A new story is created from this splicing, which is how the viewer gets their own interpretation. The director, producer, and makers of the film had no say, and they let the work express meaning to the viewer alone. This is a postmodern way of presentation.
However, we also see that there is a brooding score, which helps with emotional buildup and draws the viewer in. There definitely is a purpose with the documentary, and it wasn’t just to inform, but also in a way to entertain. Postmodernists are concerned with consumerism and mass marketing products. Creating an interesting and intense documentary is a way to turn a tragedy into a product that can be enjoyed for entertainment, much like movies that make use of War material or Holocaust material for the same purpose. It is an interesting and controversial way to entertain people, yet most modern consumers eat up any type of movie, book, or song that is packaged the right way, no matter what the subject matter is.
Jonestown is an interesting adaptation of Post-Modern thought.

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