"I am the AUTHOR. I OUTRANK you." -- Franz Liebkind
Just a few things about Jim Jones/Jonestown to consider with Flight:
- Obviously, the charismatic leader. The already wickedly charismatic Jones presented himself as a father figure to his followers (so much so that they actually referred to him as “dad”), and I think Kosarev would do the same (In the actual space program, Sergey Korolyov was very much a father figure to the cosmonauts, only he was actually you know, benevolent and took his utmost care that they *didn’t* die for him)
- The idea of “it’s for the greater good.” One of the most striking things about Jones and The People’s Temple is how sane its message was on the surface. It was an integrated church at a time when civil rights was coming to a head. It provided housing and care for the elderly. It had a working agricultural commune where people lived and worked and received gratification from their work long before the move to Guyana. It was a regular and strong presence in liberal causes in San Francisco at the time. Even as people were drinking the flavor-air, Jones talked about the higher cause, the good of socialism. Naturally, Kosarev would justify himself and the fact that he was sending talented young people to their death with the triumph of science, the Soviet Union and the good of communism, so much so that I want there to be a split in between the cosmonauts: the true believers willing to die for Soviet Science, and the doubters who believe in soviet science and all but aren’t sure it’s worth dying over.
- the culture of secrecy. The first rule of the Soviet Space Program is that you do not talk about the Soviet Space Program. In the biography of Gagarin that I read, the author talked about how even 10+ years after the collapse of the Soviet Union it was extremely difficult for him to find people who were there and worked with the program to come forward and talk. One of the earliest things that Jones did to control his followers was discouraging them to talk to one another. In the PBS documentary I watched a follower of Jones talked about how Jones would make these wild claims to his congregation about how he was the only true heterosexual and that they were all homosexuals deep in denial. The guy said that at the time he personally had his doubts about what Jones was saying, but he was afraid of speaking to anyone else about it for fear of seeming not with the group. Of course the deeper you got into the group, the closer to Jones and the higher in the hierarchy, you learn that dissenters would be beaten and at Jonestown people were regularly beaten and drugged and brutally coerced into submission. I think in Flight there would be at least one dissenting cosmonaut who mysteriously get the shit beaten out of him and afterwards refuses to talk. Maybe there’ll even be uncertainty about if some of the missing went into space or were just killed. More incentive to behave. It’s better to die peacefully in space!
- a million other small things. I should find more videos of Jones preaching because I definitely imagine Kosarev having the same manic charisma. He’d share a lot of his mannerism and whatnot.
hmmmmmm well it’s good to get my thoughts written down on tumblr. plus sometimes I just like to talk. I should do this more often.