The more I think about it, “fuck the shit out of someone” is a TERRIBLE expression.
Nathan on Shakespeare.
Someone somewhere is going to look at this and say:
"Don’t tell me what to do."
"I’ve been trying stand-up comedy for about five years now. I’m struggling to find my voice."
"What do you mean by ‘voice?”"
"I want to reach the point where it’s me on stage, and not just a bunch of jokes I wrote."
"The only true currency in this bankrupt world is what you share with someone else when you’re uncool."
- Lester Bangs, Almost Famous
Philip Seymour Hoffman's role in Almost Famous as rock journalist Lester Bangs is one we didn’t cover in today’s interviews, but we know it’s a fan favorite.
Hey guys, you should watch this thing I am in with some friends of mine! Action! Adventure! Romance! Magical Girl Transformation Sequences! And what it means, exactly, to be a man struggling in a man’s world.
BEHOLD! The inaugural sketch of future comedy juggernaut SPACE GIRLS.
The more I think about it, “fuck the shit out of someone” is a TERRIBLE expression.
So, I’m writing this because because the internet.
I didn’t write a rape culture my junior year at Brown, but here’s a brief background about my Donald Glover fandom, or QUALIFICATIONS: My friend showed me the “Freaks and Geeks” video when it hit the front page of reddit.com and that inspired me to start watching Community. I rediscovered Derreck Comedy with Mystery Team and ‘tubing their sketches, including what seems to be Donald’s naked-baby-photo-album that is Bro Rape. I watched Weirdo one X-Mas break, went back and waded through Sick Boi and CULDESAC in time to catch a copy from Amoeba records when CAMP dropped. I caught the tour in Sacramento with that same friend from above and waited in line 5 hours at Rough Trade in Williamsburg for because the internet.
Part of my draw to Childish Gambino is the personal expression of his lyrics. It’s not an empty brag when he says in “Bonfire”, <put my soul on the track like shoes did.> Listening to Gambino feels like listening to Donald Glover speaking to you about his hopes and fears, his accomplishments and insecurities. Coming off of CAMP I feel like I listened to someone’s life story. Unlike CULDESAC, which IMO has a lot of yearning to be great and feels like the work of an artist wanting to be taken seriously, CAMP was a conversation with an established individual. Compare the haphazard confidence of “Hero” to the confidant disdain of “Backpackers”. All the while we go through the heartbreak and heartbeat of a kid I can relate to. (It’s weird, but I kind of have some guilt being white and liking Childish Gambino. Like, I’m giving him more work to do to prove his legitimacy. Anyway)
All in all, whether it be entirely autobiographical songs like “Outside” and “LES” or clearly confessional lyrics ala <you with a different girl like each and every fucking night/And kiss her while she’s sleeping and sneak out the front to catch a flight/That’s not life, dude/It’s just making up for fucks I missed in high school> in “All That Shine”, listening to Gambino feels personal. No more so than the soliloquy at the end of “That Power”, which relates a story about being on a bus back from “camp”…
…which is right where the screenplay because the internet picks up. Click the thing for the whole thing. NOTE: Everything that follows relies on the given that because the internet is as first-person personal as CAMP is. So…give. What’s more, when “3005” debuted on Sway in the Morning, Gambino described it as his most honest work to date. But “it” could just be referring to “3005” as a single, rather than the album. More on that later.
A boy, THE BOY, gets off a bus preceded by three girls, laughing. Presuming these kids are wearing orange T-shirts, it’s not that far a stone’s throw to assume one of the girls is “Michelle” and the little boy is Donald. Right? Except, The Boy then gets into a limousine with a chauffer. The Boy has money. Rick Ross plays his dad. Glover’s father does not have money, CAMP is riddled with references to his family struggling to make ends meet <Donald, watch the meter so they don’t turn the lights out/working two jobs so I can get into that white school> so the little boy can’t be Donald Glover, age childhood, unless that second job had a six-figure salary. So, we have a couple of different theories, or as I’m choosing to refer to them:
OPTION ONE: THE BOY IS DONALD GLOVER aka CHILDISH GAMBINO
Throughout the album there are a few allusions that apply to The Boy sharing an identity with the man Donald Glover. On “Telegraph Ave. (Oakland)” murmurs <And I’m bervous, truth be told, I never saw me growing old>. This is a reference to his past fears way back on “Fuck It All”, when Glover muses <I think it’s cause I can’t really see myself an old guy>. Additionally, in typical Gambino fashion, the first track “crawl” includes a brag about his honesty, <and I said what I felt, no re-write>Furthermore, on “3005”, he alludes to real relationships, <And no matter where all of my friends go/Emily, Fam, and Lorenzo/ All of these people my Camp folk (‘least I think so>.
A SECOND POSSIBLITY: THE BOY IS CHILDISH GAMBINO, WHO IS HIS OWN AVATAR
This one has slightly more support if you’re willing to look for it. (I’m completely willing) It’s possible that Childish Gambino is literally an alter-ego and because the internet is his own story after his childhood. While Donald Glover got on the bus home from camp, he tell us he never got off himself <the truth is I never got off the bus. I still haven’t> Instead, Gambino gets off the bus, gets in the car with his father, and x years later is misanthropic, solipsistic, and numb. No stranger to referring to his premature persona Gambino includes several references to that as the namesake of because the internet's protagonist. And what’s more, that he has always had money. On “sweatpants” <’Bino so insensitive, she ask him “Why you say that?” / I’m killin’, yeah yeah I’m killin’/rich kid asshole, paint me as a villain>, and on “party”, <Got a new girl and she look Mila Kunis/ Infinity pool, and a statue that’s Buddhist/ Got bottles and bottles and bottles of Grino/ Saw I was rich, now they fuckin’ with ‘Bino>. That last bit is particularly of note because it establishes the setting of because the internet and its prelude clapping for the wrong reasons. Which, in turn, segways me into theory three:
THEORY THREE: THE WHOLE THING’S A DREAM/ACID TRIP/WORK OF FICTION
Clapping for the Wrong Reasons (watch by clicking) features a lot of passages about dreams, begins with a character (THE BOY?) waking up and ends with him waking up the same way, indicating looping or purgatory. There is a character nobody recognizes, a clock never appears, and there’s no indication of travel. It’s possible that the characters are all manifestations of Gambino’s subconscious, helping him creatively with freestyling and mixing (catch that sample in because the internet). In the screenplay proper there are myriad heightened scenes, from the Coachella wolves to the spider cascades, all of which are commonplace in dreamscapes. Alternatively, it could be an alternative altered state: drugs.
First, if you’re a Gambino fan and haven’t breached into Chance the Rapper’s astonishing sophomore effort Acid Raps, do so. But all you need is the title to know that the once clean Glover <smoke your green, I’m spendin’ mine>, is now deeply entrenched in the liberating embrace of psychedelics. <trippin’ off those toadstools> and I don’t think I need a citation for evidence of his weed smoking. Just Google “Gambino, vaporizer” to see him blazing for yourself. So it could be because the internet is a trip, an attempt to capture the existential majesty of hallucinogenics. That would explain the identity crises, the environmental unfamiliarity, the magic transitions.
Then again, it could all just be a screenplay. A work of fiction. A meaningless piece of art presented to the audience for interpretation. But…fuck that.
THE MOST LIKELY TRUTH: (CONSIDERING THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS TRUTH AND EVERYTHING IS PERCEIVED) DONALD GLOVER, THE MAN WHO PERFORMS MUSIC UNDER THE NAME OF CHILDISH GAMBINO, IS GOING THROUGH SOME SHIT
The most likely answer: it’s a mix. Donald is trying to find the line that distinguishes Childish Gambino and Donald Glover. Gamblover has referred to “3005" as "the first existential rap song" and I think it’s not too far-fetched to say that by the time we hit the infinity pool the artist is closer to Camus than CAMP.
Let’s start with “3005”, which is the first single from the album so it can be treated as a stand-alone piece. Besides the afore-noted name…gently setting down…it’s not quite dropping,..anyway— besides the lyric I bolded above there’s a very chilling confession midway through the first verse, <got a house full of homies, why I feel so the opposite>. It’s not surprising to see that success heightens insecurities. Gamblover fears that all of his friends are on his payroll and he can’t trust anyone to stick around if and when the money goes.
Pull out to the scope of the whole album and regardless of who The Boy is, Gamblover’s voice is the one we hear over the 70 some-odd pages and the first thing we hear him ask is, “Who am I?”. Gamblover turned 30 this year. That’s huge. It doesn’t need to be, but many people look at 30 as the definitive end of childhood. By age 30 you’re supposed to have figured out who you are and what your path is. You’re no longer a twentysomething, you’re “in your thirties”, it’s a big deal and you’ve got furniture to move. But Childish Gambino is just starting to become a name, maybe not household— but also not niche. It makes sense that the dude is having a struggle with his identity. Throughout because the internet we go back and forth between The Boy, Donald Glover, and Childish Gambino, but I think the most honest bit, the most personal confessions, are in the track that plays as the credits roll: “Life: The Biggest Troll”
All we have visually is The Boy, in jacket and shorts, with vape and phone, chilling in what looks like a frozen yogurt joint. And we have this chilling postulation, <Where’s the line between Donnie G and Gambino?>. And that’s what it all comes down to. Is he the kid from Stone Mountain, or a the (I’m guessing here, I’m not his accountant) multi-millionaire mogul? Are his friends still his friends or are they employees? Are these girls groupies? When he acts in a way that he’s ashamed of, is there a scapegoat? It weighs on him, <Tyler Durden this burden.> He refers to CAMP as being a million years ago, his relationship with Glassnote Records, and a possible new romance with Jhene Aikom and it seems like he’s trying to breach the surface of his struggle.
In the end he asks for help.
I saw this on twitter.
Childish Gambino @DonaldGlover “my album isnt done” December 28
Secret track. Oh yeah. I guess we’ll see what happens.
Because I’m all kinds of generous, here are the lessons I got in three years of acting classes. (I know, I’m not famous so I must be a shit actor, right? No, I’m pretty good. Trust me. Or don’t, I’m not your mother. You do trust your mother, don’t you? I mean, why would she lie to you? Huh? What possible reason does she have to lie to you your entire life?)
LESSON #1: BALANCE THE EGG
Go get an egg. Find a flat surface. Now balance the egg so that it stands upright like it did in the carton. Yeah, not as easy as you thought it would be, is it? Wipe that smirk off your face and try again. Do this over and over for about ten minutes.
Did you notice anything while you were doing that? Did you feel frustrated? Did you laugh? Did you cry (there, there) Did you feel proud when you actually did it? Did you feel anything at all? Hopefully, yes.
Now, did you go into balancing the egg going “Look at me try to balance this egg? Oh, it’s so hard! Why can’t I do this? I are guy, not balancing egg!” Did you go into it saying “I am going to laugh because this is such a funny thing? I am going to be frustrated at this stupid egg! Look at how frustrated I am?” No. You didn’t. I’m psychic and I know you didn’t.
Don’t act like you’re doing something, do it (exceptions being acts of sex and violence with people and animals) You don’t go for a run thinking “I am going to sweat.” You don’t go into a scene thinking “I am going to cry”, you play the scene and tears happen. Tears are like sweat…in a lot of ways, actually.
LESSON #2: DON’T ASSASSINATE HITLER
Adolf Hitler was an evil man, but Adolf Hitler didn’t think so. Adolf Hitler thought he was saving his country by killing all those people. He thought the Nazi Party was a solution to a problem. Hitler was doing the very best job he could do.
If you have to play a character that does bad things, you have to justify why your character is doing them. The villain doesn’t think she’s a villain, she believes she is in the right.
LESSON #3: GO BIG
Or go home. This is a director’s note I get a lot. If you make a big choice, even if it’s wrong, you can pull back until you find the right level. If you start small it is entirely more work to build towards the level then if you had just shot for the moon.
LESSON #4: DON’T PLAY THE END OF THE SCENE
You have a unique advantage holding that script: you know exactly how the thing ends. You know what happens in the future (just like me, I’m totally psychic, guys).
Here’s the thing, your character doesn’t/can’t. Your character is in the moment (or dwelling on the past, but that’s a psychological thing, not a physical one) and does not know how this situation is going to end. If the turn in the scene is your character being told, “I’m leaving you” your character did not know that was going to happen before it happened. Even if they had suspicions, they did not capital-K Know. If you play the end of the scene before it happens, if you already got the girl and saved the day, there are no stakes. You’ve got to believe that what you want is what’s going to happen. Especially if it doesn’t.
LESSON #5: WHY’D YOU PICK THESE WORDS?
Even when people are running at the mouth they choose certain words. This is especially true in Shakespeare (you’re reciting poetry, don’t try and act like the verse isn’t there) but it’s also true in contemporary work. There is a reason you say “pilfered” instead of “took” and vice versa. Figure out why that is.
LESSON #6: DIALOGUE IS LIKE TENNIS
This is an umbrella lesson that contains a couple of tips.
First, serve the line to your partner. Actors have a tendency to drop the ends of their sentences. It’s a case of “Oh, thank Joss, I’m done talking now and I can just dribble out these last few words.” No, run through the finish line, then slow down.
Second, swing is a verb. So is hit. Racquet is a noun. So is ball. So are ace and love (which, to be fair, are also verbs). Play these. So often actors miss the juice that’s in these words and emphasize me, my, I , mine, you, yours, he, her, his, hers, they, theirs and other pretty much useless words. (I did this. Not, I did this) Pronouns don’t need to be stressed unless you’re distinguishing one over the other (I did this, you did not). That being said, more often than not if I say “fuck” it’s a filler word, a throw away. I take you less seriously if you yell “FUCK!” at me every time you say it.
Third, wait for the ball to cross the net. Which basically means listen to your partner. Don’t speak until you hear what made you want to speak, don’t react until you hear the trigger. You’ve staged the scene and gone over it a hundred times but this is the first time this person has heard these words. Listen and wait for your turn, then counter.
LESSON #7: BREATHE
I cannot stress how much breath affects everything you do on stage. I had an entire class dedicated to relearning to breath. I spent ten weeks restructuring something I’ve done since birth. Not one second of that class feels like wasted time (though, to be completely honest it did at the time)
LESSON #8: PLAY
You are playing dress up and make believe. Don’t forget that these things are called plays. That you are a player, playing a scene. Way too often actors get caught up in the message of a play or the severity of their work. It’s really not that big of a deal. The fact that you get paid to do this (if you do) is a joke. This supposed to be fun, that’s why you do it. Don’t take it (or yourself) too seriously or it won’t be.
LESSON #9: DON’T BE A DICK
This is another way of saying “act like a professional” Especially if you aren’t getting paid. To me, being professional means:
1. Know your lines.
2. Seriously, know your fucking lines.
3. It’s worth stating a third time: KNOW YOUR LINES
4. Arrive on time or you’re wasting time. On time means dressed, made up, warm and ready to go at your call.
5. Do your warm ups. You’re going to be glad you did.
6. Be respectful. To your fellow actors, to the rest of creative, to the crew, to the space, to the audience. Keep the shit talk out of it.
7. Check your baggage. Everyone in that room has a life that goes on when they’re not in it but you have a job to do, so do it.
8. Nobody has time for your ego. You are not more important than anyone else in the room. Someone giving you attention doesn’t mean you are great, it means they are.
9. Find your light. People need to see you and (it’s okay to admit it) you want to be seen.
10. Don’t worry, be happy. Because after all is said and done, none of this really mattered anyway. Did it?
LESSON #11: LISTEN FOR THE QUIETEST SOUND IN THE ROOM
I’m still figuring out what this means, exactly. But it resonates with me. The devil’s in them details. So is everything else.