When Donald Glover dropped Because the Internet in 2013, its’ perverseness and brutal description of consumption and how the internet transformed the dynamics of modern society (for better and for worst.) It also featured a screenplay and a short film further exploring the aforementioned which showcased his prowess in acting and screenwriting. Shortly after the release, mysterious letters and cryptic tweets start to appear on Glover’s social media and then he vanished. He deactivated all of his social media, including the official Because the Internet website. Through the deactivation of his personal use of social media, besides to post updates on Atlanta and PHAROS– he joined the anomalies, the iconoclasts, those who retreat for months, years, and even decades but in the calm of the storm arrive unexpectedly. They break the internet with their brief return and retreat back to their solitude. Frank Ocean, Andre 3000, Harper Lee and George R.R Martin are those who ignore deadlines or expectations from us and instead take back control, holding and nurturing their art into it’s something they can be unutterably satisfied with. All those years of inactivity always benefit us at the end because thee years later, he returns to release his new TV show: Atlanta.
Atlanta premiered early September and as well as earning the attention of 3 million Americans, making it the biggest comedy debut since 2013, it received high support and praise, especially from those who grew up in Atlanta, giving light for Glover truly representing Atlanta in its purest form and not succumbing to the cliché that the whole of Atlanta is a glamorized “bando.” We celebrated its visceral writing with accents of comedy and drama which goes to the accord of the writing team which is entirely composed of black writers. From transitioning from pepper chicken wings with extra lemon sauce to observing the stigma surrounding mental illness in the black community, notions of police brutality, homophobia and white people saying the n-word. Those themes were executed smoothly and didn’t even feel out of place as they understand the nuances of being a minority. You could be eating chicken wings with your friend one day and then the next you’re bludgeoned on the floor with three panicked officers trapping you down. A perfect example is when Dave (Griffin Freeman) reveals an anecdote about the time he explicitly said the n-word one night in confidence to Earnest Marks (Donald Glover) but is left stuttering and gawkily re-telling the story to Alfred “Paper Boi” Miles (Bryan Lee Henry) and Darius (Keith Stanfield).
The struggles that Earnest, Paper Boi, and Vanessa deal with make them easy to relate to, or at the very least, sympathize with. We resonate with Paper Boi, the upcoming rapper- who tries to balance the realms of street life with real life, trying to differentiate between Paper Boi and Alfred Marks and then trying to figure out who exactly he is; a local up-and-coming rapper who’s really about that life or a drug-dealer who’s just trying to stay alive? The rhetoric of being “real” is hammered heavily in hip hop and Glover and his team explores that with the actions of Paper Boi during the aftermath of the shooting. If anything, Glover has an impeccable talent for creating and playing a plethora of relatable and different characters. From the sensitive and exorbitant Troy Barnes, the opinionated Republican Sandy, the nihilistic and awkwardly poetic The Boy and now in 2016, he’s Earnest Marks, the young adult trying to balance his adult responsibilities, his relationship with Vanessa (Zazie Beetz), and his escape to the good life in Atlanta.
Words by Ethan Herlock.