Critics love to throw around words like “original” and “innovative” all the time. In fact, I’ve heard movie reviewers use both of those words to describe Peter Jackson’s new Hobbit film, The Desolation of Smaug. The strange part is that the movie is actually based on a book, AND is the fifth film in a hugely successful movie franchise, so I don’t really see why “original” is the best word to describe the fantasy epic. We should leave those words to describe something that is truly something different, something unlike everything else out there. The reason I’m saying all this is to heighten the impact of the following statement: Childish Gambino’s Because The Internet is an original work unlike anything I’ve ever experienced.
For those who don’t understand, Because The Internet is Childish Gambino’s second studio album, following his first album Camp which was released in 2011. For those who are still confused, Childish Gambino is Donald Glover’s rap alter ego. For those who continue to be puzzled, Donald Glover is an actor, best known for playing Troy Barnes on the NBC show Community. For those who persist with their lack of knowledge, NBC is a TV network that currently airs popular programs such as The Voice, and Parks and Recreation. For those who currently lack the understanding to comprehend their current situation, Google it, I have to move on.
Because the Internet is more than just an album, it’s a fully realized character study. Earlier this week Glover released a 72-page screenplay to accompany his album (To read the script, go to becuasetheinter.net). The screenplay includes the audio tracks from the album, which you are supposed to play while reading. The screenplay helps listeners see how each song fits both into the story, but into the theme Gambino is focused on as well.
The screenplay follows The Boy, a wealthy kid who lives in a mansion, and the downward spiral that is his life. Because The Internet actually begins at the end of Gambino’s last album Camp. In Camp‘s last song, titled ‘That Power’, Gambino tells the story of a boy who professes his love to a girl while at summer camp, only to be mocked for his emotions (The Story starts at 2:48)
The last lines of the song describe girls getting off the bus laughing as they taunt The Boy for his use of the word destiny. Coincidentally, Gambino’s screenplay begins with this:
So the kid from the end of That Power is the same kid who grows to become The Boy, the subject of Because the Internet. Currently, many believe Gambino himself is The Boy, and Because the Internet is an autobiographical work. Others, including me, believe that The Boy is in fact a made up character, but the themes within his character are what connects The Boy to Gambino. The Theory doesn’t end there though, for the past year or so, Gambino has been portraying The Boy in all public appearances, using the acting skills he’s known for. Just think about it for a second, Gambino has worn the same outfit, a white shirt and either brown pants or blue short shorts (I think it may be an Arrested Development reference, but that’s probably the TV geek inside me talking.) in almost every interview or public appearance he’s made.
Here’s the Outfit:
Other support for this theory comes from an interview Glover did with ANDPOP, where he was asked how he met his rumored girlfriend Jhené Aiko. The story he gives is almost identical to the story of how the character of The Boy meets Naomi, whose played by Aiko, in the script. (You can watch the interview here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ARTowbNhmiU) More evidence is found in Gambino’s social media accounts, including his Instagram and Tumblr. Some speculate these accounts are in fact accounts of The Boy, and Glover is posting things he thinks The Boy would post, though I don’t think Glover’s infamous hotel room notes had anything to do with the album.
The Tumblr idea makes sense because of Gambino’s relationship with the company. Most recently, Glover and Tumblr teamed up to host art shows and galleries to accompany Because The Internet. Among other things, the show features a recreation of The Boy’s bedroom. Supposedly, the recreation is made exactly how the script described it.
If you’re keeping track, this is now the third medium that Because The Internet has ventured into. First music, then a script, and now physical art.
Gambino has frequently said that he wants to create worlds, not albums. With all the resources available, why just settle for a pack of songs when you can do so much more? Gambino is one of the first to take advantage of all that is available to him and really create something special and noteworthy. Not since the Gorillaz have I invested this much time in researching and understanding the concept and story behind an album. Gambino created something so poignant and interesting that I didn’t mind putting in the time and the research necessary for me to fully understand it. But, before I knew any of the backstory, I loved the music. The album by itself is great, albeit a little confusing and disjointed without complete understanding of the story. Still, Because The Internet is filled with songs that not only contain Gambino’s signature clever humor, but also poignant thoughts and self-reflection. If you are really interested in getting the full experience of the album, I cannot recommend reading the script enough. Seriously, you should do it…because the internet.
Earlier this year, Donald Glover deleted all of his previous tweets and stayed off of twitter for months. When he resurfaced, most of his messages were RT’s of people saying “Roscoe’s Wetsuit.” As time went on, more and more people began to tweet Roscoe’s Wetsuit, without any explanation, simply because Gambino was encouraging them to do so.
Roscoe’s wetsuit appears in Gambino’s script as well, but only as a recurring mystery that never gets resolved, just as it was for Glover’s followers on twitter. In the script, The Boy goes crazy trying to figure out the meaning of the phrase, without any luck. My current theory, which I found in multiple Reddit pages, is that Roscoe’s wetsuit symbolizes the ability for things and phrases to go viral for absolutely no reason. Glover used the phrase to point out what the Internet can do, and what can be done on the Internet.
The phrase means nothing, but is rather a metaphor for the whole point of the script. The script ultimately ends on a cliffhanger, leading to the song titled ‘Life: The Biggest Troll.’ The point is that because of the Internet anything is possible. A simple, meaningless phrase can be trending on twitter, and a 72-page script can engross you for over an hour before ending without telling you the fate of its main character (Although it’s probably safe to assume he died). Roscoe’s Wetsuit’s ultimate meaning is nothing special, but that didn’t stop the rest of us from thinking it was important.
- http://pigeonsandplanes.com/2013/12/roscoes-wetsuit/s/phrase-roscoes-wetsuit-can-either-mean-anything-nothing/ (THIS SITE HELPED ME A LOT)
- New Videos : Childish Gambino – 3005 & The Worst Guys (wellversedlife.com)
- Childish Gambino’s “Because The Internet” Has Officially Leaked (trendingtunes.wordpress.com)