Good example of movie review on jonestown: conformity turned fear

The study of Jonestown is one that is scary as well as intriguing. Learning about the movement of such a group of people to follow one person is extremely interesting and it is one that is never truly observed on this scale very often. This paper looks at the movie Jonestown as well as the theories which have been taught in class. I look to apply these theories to the movie over the next few pages. The psychological idea that will take most of my time is that of conformity, this idea is one that is obvious when discussing a situation such as Jonestown.
Conformity was discussed in class as a change in belief or action based on real or imagine group pressure. This is apparent when watching the movie Jonestown. Without conformity Jonestown would not have happened as it did. People felt so pressured to comply with certain aspects of Jim Jones’ beliefs that they were easily persuaded to do things that usually would not do. Jim Jones used the act of conformity when he performed the speeches and got the crowd excited about what he was preaching and believing. Conformity, whether it was direct pressure or not, had to do with many of the followers following Jim Jones to do what many today believe they would not do at all.
A study that represents group conformity is Asch’s “ Line Comparison Study” in 1955. During this people were tested to see if they would go along with the group answer even though there was not any forced means of conformity, they were simply going with the crowd because they believed this was the right answer. Jonestown had an idea of conformity similar to this because people were not necessarily forced to take part in the belief and take part in listening to the speeches. They saw people they knew participating, and saw the effect it was having on everyone and they believed it was the right thing to do.
There were many indirect comments to the “ members of the church” by Jim Jones that were mentioned in the movie that may come across as displaying conformity among a group of people. He would say, as well as instill the belief, that people who were a part of the church, or were attempting to join, needed that group of people and they would be frowned upon by members that were outside of that congregation of people. Jim Jones was a leader who fed on the people that were weak and who felt like they needed someone in their life that understood them and were willing to accept them.
Watching the film it is obvious that conformity was not the only contributor to the Jonestown mass suicide. Quickly there was a feeling that people were being forced to stay there and being forced to obey what Jim Jones was saying. There were armed guards that were surrounding the mass of people and people began to feel the pressure of the situation. This is when it turned from conformity, and the unforced feeling of being in a group to a feeling of pressure and overwhelming fear to complete something that may have not been completed had that fear not been in place.
Not all people fell to the indirect notion of conformity. In the movie there is a story of someone who attempted to pass a note to a news reporter who was there in order to get help into Jonestown to get them out of there. Some people were swept up in the mass amount of support and elaborate speeches that Jim Jones was able to put on. Others noticed that something was wrong and that something was going to happen. There were over 900 people that died in what is today known as one of the largest mass suicides in history, and this would not have happened without the idea of conformity. Works Cited
Jonestown: The Life and Death of People’s Temple. Dir. Stanley Nelson, 2006. Film.