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February 26, 2018 3:17 PM   Subscribe

Earn Marks, Childish Gambino, Troy Barnes... Donald Glover can't save you [New Yorker].

[ft. mild spoilers for Atlanta S2.]
“The thing I imagine myself being in the future doesn’t exist yet. I wish it was just ‘Oh, I’ll be Oprah,’ or ‘I’ll be Dave Chappelle.’ But it’s not that. It’s something different and more, something involving fairness and restoring a sense of honor. Sometimes I dream of it, but how do you explain a dream where you never see your father, but you know that that’s him over your shoulder?” It was very quiet. “It’d be nice to feel less lonely.”
Robbin' Season airs March 1. Fanfare.
posted by ilicet (18 comments total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
 
I have definitely heard some of the things Glover is saying here from like half of my profoundly gifted friends, and the bouncing between interests, the desire for genuineness and authenticity, how hard you feel things, the feeling that you see something that everyone else is only just starting to notice. He is significantly better than most of us are at actually finishing things, though.

I suspect that Glover's never known anyone on the same level, intellectually, as him, and he's been able to stave off that loneliness with his tremendous abilities. It fucks you up, to always be the smartest guy in the room.

I'm probably just projecting, though. I imagine a lot of people would like to see a little of themselves in him, which can be ruinous in its own way.
posted by Merus at 4:12 PM on February 26, 2018 [12 favorites]


I suspect that Glover's never known anyone on the same level, intellectually, as him, and he's been able to stave off that loneliness with his tremendous abilities. It fucks you up, to always be the smartest guy in the room.

I dunno how value it is to always be ranking people on their intellect. I've met a lot of people who thought they were the smartest person in the room - often in the same room. It's a pretty meaningless metric, ultimately.

I think Glover is a fantastic, creative voice, and we're lucky he's been willing to express that through a number of mediums. I'm not sure framing him as a kind of black unicorn is doing him - or us - a service, ultimately.
posted by smoke at 5:06 PM on February 26, 2018 [14 favorites]


From the article:
...Glover appeared in two episodes of HBO’s “Girls”—cast, he suspected, to placate critics of the show’s lily-white sensibility. His character was Sandy, the black Republican boyfriend of Hannah, played by Lena Dunham. When Hannah broke up with him, Sandy began pumping his shoulders to imitate her privileged cluelessness: “ ‘Oh, I’m a white girl, and I moved to New York and I’m having a great time, and, Oh, I’ve got a fixed-gear bike, and I’m going to date a black guy and we’re going to go to a dangerous part of town.’ ” Dunham told me that Glover improvised his lines: “Every massive insult of white women was one hundred per cent him. I e-mailed him later to say ‘I hope you feel the part on “Girls” didn’t tokenize you,’ and his response was really Donald-y and enigmatic: ‘Let’s not think back on mistakes we made in the past, let’s just focus on what lies in front of us.’ ”

I can't have any sense of proportion about Glover; for me, his ongoing brilliance and a flawless bit like the reply above excuse his self-admitted martyr complex: "I feel like Jesus. I do feel chosen. My struggle is to use my humanity to create a classic work—but I don’t know if humanity is worth it, or if we’re going to make it. I don’t know if there’s much time left.”
posted by Iris Gambol at 5:24 PM on February 26, 2018 [1 favorite]


I'm not sure framing him as a kind of black unicorn is doing him - or us - a service, ultimately.

The point I was trying to make is that I think that everyone around him already does this, and, yeah, it doesn't end well. You need to have people in your life that you can't blind with your brilliance, now matter how brilliant you happen to be.
posted by Merus at 5:29 PM on February 26, 2018 [2 favorites]


To lighten the mood, he was also Young Tracy Jordan, Gay Kid, and TGS PA. Liz also references a "Donal Glover" in an episode or context I can't remember right now.

Don't mind me, a recent bunch of TV show rewatches has stuff stuck in my mind, but for some reason I can't find anywhere to fit in Parks and Recs stuff.
posted by elsietheeel at 5:29 PM on February 26, 2018


“I wondered, Am I being hired just because I’m black?” Tina Fey, the show’s creator and star, told me that the answer was in large part yes; she admired Glover’s talent but hired him because funds from NBC’s Diversity Initiative “made him free.”

I tried to find a reading for this admission that isn't kind of creepy and I really can't.
posted by invitapriore at 5:56 PM on February 26, 2018 [1 favorite]


Pretty sure it was intended to be creepy.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 6:36 PM on February 26, 2018 [3 favorites]


"Awaken, My Love!" was my favorite album of 2017. Atlanta, was one of my favorite shows. This was a terrific read into a fascinating mind. Thanks!
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 7:06 PM on February 26, 2018 [2 favorites]


Fam Udeorji had told me, “White Donald would be James Franco—a guy doing a lot of different shit, none of it interesting.”

I think this was meant to contrast Glover to Franco (and to slight Franco), but I think it's actually kind of an apt comparison, though maybe a little too generous to Glover and a little too much of a slight of Franco (as far as their work, not their personal lives).

They both seem like talented guys with a kind of manic need to be all over the place, perhaps to the point of overreach.
posted by mpbx at 7:06 PM on February 26, 2018


Tad Friend is a delightful writer, although not one I engage with emotionally. He is quite skilled. His mag bio highlights his memoir, Cheerful Money: Me, My Family, and the Last Days of Wasp Splendor, and the fact that Friend has also profiled Elon Musk, who Glover cites in a quote.

Throughout the piece, both Friend and Glover as quoted cite performative expectations as driving Glover's media interactions. This does not seem lost on either party in the context of the article as written.
posted by mwhybark at 7:12 PM on February 26, 2018 [1 favorite]


“I wondered, Am I being hired just because I’m black?” Tina Fey, the show’s creator and star, told me that the answer was in large part yes; she admired Glover’s talent but hired him because funds from NBC’s Diversity Initiative “made him free.”

I tried to find a reading for this admission that isn't kind of creepy and I really can't.


To be fair, the whole premise of 30 rock is about a show that the network uses to deflect criticism from its other programming.
posted by BYiro at 7:52 PM on February 26, 2018


You need to have people in your life that you can't blind with your brilliance

Ideally I think I agree with this. And I hope I agree it's because I wish nothing but good things for Glover, so I want him to have this too so that he never burns out. But... is anyone in Justin Bieber's crew taking him down a peg? Probably not, and he isn't the same level of talent. Heck, what about Elon Musk - does he have friends not blinded by his brilliance? Or Anthony Bourdain? Or George Lucas? Spielberg? If these guys are doing okay, I think Donald Glover can end up okay even if he spends his entire life blinding everyone.

(As a south asian woman, I'm maybe not-so-secretly delighted to watch a whole bunch of new voices get to inhabit spaces like this loudly and publicly and sometimes messily - the way that white people usually get to. And it's even more satisfying because Glover's right - there aren't a lot of people at his level. )
posted by BlueBlueElectricBlue at 8:25 PM on February 26, 2018 [9 favorites]


Goddamn, he sounds %$#@ing depressed. Keeps saying he might not be here much longer... was it three times? That's too many, right?
posted by Coaticass at 1:24 AM on February 27, 2018 [4 favorites]


Glover said that he thinks of reality as a program and his talent as hacking the code: “I learn fast—I figured out the algorithm.” Grasping the machine’s logic had risks. “When people become depressed and kill themselves, it’s because all they see is the algorithm, the loop,” he said.

This line reached out of the screen and punched me in the face.
posted by snortasprocket at 5:16 AM on February 27, 2018 [7 favorites]


Donald Glover is like the metaphorical shark: He has to keep moving, and creating, and evolving, or he'll die. And he's aware of this. And he's also aware that even if he does keep moving, and creating, and evolving, one day he's going to die anyway, because he's a mortal just like the rest of us.

And what can you do with knowledge like that?
posted by Faint of Butt at 5:28 AM on February 27, 2018 [3 favorites]


He's not being 100% serious and depressed/ overwhelmed - he also spent a lot of time thinking about (and possibly watching) cartoons: Donald Glover on How ‘Atlanta’ Season 2 Is Like ‘Tiny Toon Adventures’
Speaking at the Television Critics Association press tour Friday, creator and star Donald Glover said that he took inspiration from season two of FX’s Emmy-winning half-hour series from “Tiny Toon Adventures,” the ’90s children’s animated program about kid versions of Warner Bros.’ Looney Tunes characters.

Specifically, Glover said he turned to “Tiny Toon Adventures: How I Spent My Summer Vacation,” a television movie that was sliced up into four episodes of the series that played like a highly serialized television arc.

“In the writers room, we spent a lot of time talking about ‘How I Spent My Summer Vacation’ by the Tiny Toons,” Glover said. “That was kind of the inspiration.”

Executive producer Paul Simms said, “This is one of those things that sounds like a TCA joke that someone makes, but for nine months now, I’ve been hearing Donald say, ‘Well, did you ever see ‘Tiny Toons’?”

Glover added, “That was our favorite as kids.”

Fellow executive producer Stephen Glover explained the connection.

“If you watched them all together, they were a movie,” he said. “We kind of took that idea of a whole story, but being told in a bunch of little parts that could be a show.”

Donald Glover added, “You enjoy them if they’re together, but you can also enjoy them in little bits.”
Watching it as an adult ... yeah, it's an early 1990s cartoon, with some good bits and skits, but nothing really worth tracking down, IMO. But as a reference for story structure, I can see how it's a fun reference with a ton of tropes if they're looking that direction, though many are more suited for cartoons and kids shows, IMO.
posted by filthy light thief at 7:46 AM on February 27, 2018 [1 favorite]


Recent clip from the Late Show with Stephen Colbert, in which he buys some Girl Scout cookies from a small fan.
posted by Coaticass at 11:46 PM on March 1, 2018


From the same show- Colbert asks Glover for a job description- what does an artist do?
posted by Coaticass at 12:10 AM on March 2, 2018


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