photo manipulation & text by nacrowe
it is increasingly DIFFICULT to look at the state of things and not come to anything but the UNFORTUNATE conclusion that the world has completely DEGENERATED at that hands of MANKIND over the past fifty years. in the UNITED STATES there has been a clear demarcating line over decades that has seen PUBLIC EDUCATION ATTACKED AND DEFUNDED, THE CLIMATE MORE POLLUTED (MORE PLASTIC THAN FISH IN OCEANS, GLOBAL WARMING), INCOME INEQUALITY MORE PRONOUNCED and the RISE OF AUTHORITARIANISM.
it is almost as if HUMANITY has DE-EVOLVED.
and that is the treatise of the recent DEVOLUTION: A DEVO THEORY (DEAD HEART FILMS, 2021) documentary centered around the philosophical underpinnings of the creative work of iconic POST PUNK / NEW WAVE band DEVO, with interviews with surviving members GERALD CASALE, MARK MOTHERSBAUGH and BOB MOTHERSBAUGH as well as FREEDOM OF CHOICE (WARNER BROS, 1980) producer ROBERT MARGOULEFF and the generationally talented late-career drummer (and noted DEVO superfan) JOSH FREESE. the group began as an art project by CASALE and MARK that was a reaction to the COMPLIANT BEHAVIOR, MINDLESS CONSUMERISM and rampant IRRATIONALITY they saw in AMERICAN culture around them in OHIO at the time. both were students at KENT STATE UNIVERSITY and CASALE himself found himself in the middle of the MASSACRE that happened on MAY 4, 1970 when NATIONAL GUARD soldiers fired live rounds upon a group of VIETNAM WAR protestors, KILLING four students and MAIMING nine others. understandably for CASALE, this was a profoundly TRAUMATIC and LIFE-ALTERING event that made him question his upbringing and the core of his AMERICAN identity. watching and reading the media responses that contextualized and/or justified the MURDER of his fellow students as INEVITABLE left a lasting impression on him. political interests and the propagation of PROPAGANDA was real thing. DEVOLUTION was REAL. only a DEVOLVED SYSTEM would allow such a TRAVESTY to happen. unquestionably this event served as the impetus for initiating DEVO in earnest.
the SAD fact is that over the next forty years, their postulation that humans were DE-EVOLVING has come to fruition. right now the AMERICAN population is DISTRACTING ITSELF with technology, HATRED for their fellow countryman and GREED and SELF-INTEREST is RAMPANT. CASALE sees a widespread BUSINESS CULTURE that is founded not on EMPATHY or MUTUAL BENEFIT but on the most BASE, DISHONEST and DISHONORABLE of human values. there is a basic disconnect given the rampant INCOME INEQUALITY at the current moment that feels like an IMMINENT powder keg ready to explode and effectively dismantle the whole AMERICAN experiment. we are out of touch with our HUMANITY, our connection to each other, our written and fought-for constitution and our fundamental values of EMPATHY and BROTHERHOOD as a nation. everything is WARPED. its obvious to point out DONALD TRUMP since he is the physical embodiment of this bloated LATE-STAGE CAPITALISM and its INSATIABLE GREED and CONSTANT NARCISSISM. not only that CASALE notes that the dude fully embraces and takes JOY in being an ASSHOLE.
so where do we go from here? i dont know. it all feels pretty FUCKED. DEVO was, in fact, right.
i'm a hardcore DEVO fan so of course i recommend DEVOLUTION: A DEVO THEORY, but what takes center stage here is not necessarily their MUSIC or cultural legacy. this film is not about that. it is about the POLITICAL IDEAS and PHILOSOPHICAL CONCEPTS that underpin such, which are CONFRONTATIONAL as they THOUGHT-PROVOKING. at the very least, this documentary is asking its audience to not take them at face value and think for themselves. im certain the promotion of RATIONAL THINKING and THOUGHTFUL, INFORMED DEBATE is what they are seeking with this late-career film. likewise, im sure the promotion of such is what they objectively sought with their INNOVATIVE MUSIC and longstanding career.