“Life’s the Biggest Troll but the Joke is on Us”: Childish Gambino’s Criticism on Internet Culture (Part 1)

By: Willem Kline

It goes without a doubt that Because the Internet is Donald Glover’s most ambitious effort since his time spent writing for the hit TV Show, 30 Rock. Under his Rap/Hip-Hop persona, Childish Gambino, Glover would release multiple mixtapes and albums that would be met with mixed reviews but it wasn’t until the release of Because the Internet that the world started to take this comedic writer as a serious musical force to be reckoned with.

It’s been three years since the album’s release and many have been left to reflect on its aftermath. Since its release, Gambino has released two back-to-back EP’s (Kauai & Stn Mtn) and had begun work on another, all the while creating and starring in his own tv show entitled Atlanta. No doubt, Glover has definitely got a lot on his plate. However, looking back on the album, one can’t help but take a gander into what Gambino had created. Because the Internet is Gambino’s most ambitious album not because of its party anthems and extraordinary instrumentals, but because of its analyzation of humanity’s recent settling into what we have called “internet culture.”

Internet Culture: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, Vine, Whisper, Worldstar Hip Hop, YouTube, internet celebrities, all of these things and more, have established an almost second society that is entirely presented through a screen. A civilization built on likes and shares, or a kingdom stacked on favorites and retweets. We are sucked into the screens of our phones and our computers in a constant effort to feed our never ending media obsession, and we can’t help it. Gambino’s album acts as an analysis for the evils present in this culture, and the love/hate relationship that humanity has developed with it.

Worldstar, which is the second track on the nineteen track behemoth, tackles the greed and desire to claim internet fame via sexual exploitation and amateur fist-fights. The rapper’s clever 2 verse track pulls back the listener and berates with constant punchlines and twisted metaphors.

The reference to Scorsese via the amateur recording of the internet snuff films create an interesting picture of the head space of a World-Star Hip Hop post or poster. That soft desire for the popularity and hits on a video is what really propels the want of a person’s fifteen minutes of fame. Worldstar acts as almost the internet’s debauchery, taking place as a more public friendly LiveLeak.com or other such smut websites. The common viewer can find videos in categories ranging from pornography to brutal fight videos to memes. Now this isn’t to say that we as people haven’t been guilty of indulging in the common Worldstar Hip-Hop video. Of course you and your friends have all crowded around to view that special fight that everyone has been talking about, (I’m looking at you Shovel-Girl). But with Gambino’s lyrics on the track you almost want to feel ashamed for succumbing to the necessity of grotesque human displays for entertainment.

As a whole, the second verse becomes a vibrant shouting match between the listener and Gambino. As he finishes the song with gun sounds that manage to come off as mocking phone rings towards the end of the song. He addresses the cell phone as a common tool used as a mind numbing device, or perhaps even a monitoring device of the common man. We all big brother now, suggests the idea that our persona and other personas are constantly being viewed through this lens of society. We are broadcasted to the whole world and at any given moment our identity can be accessed or received from any corner of the globe. It’s a scary thought, but it’s one we don’t tend to address too often.

(To be continued…)

Willem Kline, from Belvidere, Illinois is a first year student here at Illinois College, pursuing a double major in English and Theatre with an undecided minor. Willem is a newbie to The Rambler roster, a member of the IC Wind Ensemble, and avid pursuer and connoisseur of anything artsy-fartsy.

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