The Truth About De-Evolution is one of the earliest long form music videos. Devo made the short film in 1975 with Chuck Statler. The original idea was to use the short as practice for eventually releasing laserdiscs combining Devo's music with appropriate visuals. However, the laserdisc did not take off until years later, though Devo found a nice in the realm of early MTV.
The film begins with a close-up of a TV screen, upon which "In The Beginning Was The End: The Truth About De-Evolution" is superimposed. This cuts to Devo, wearing blue workers jumpsuits, and plastic face masks (except for Booji Boy), seemingly working in a factory, surrounded by pipes and controls. This was actually filmed at the GoodYear World Of Rubber in Akron, Ohio. One member notices that its quitting time, and motions for the others to go. The next scene shows them piling into a beat up car, and then driving down a road. They pull up out behind a non-descript building (actually a club in Akron), and enter. On the door is a sign that says, "Tonight Only 15-60-75". This is a dig at The Numbers Band, which Gerald V. Casale was a former member of.
Against a backdrop of DEVO, the band performs a drastically changed cover of Johnny Rivers' Secret Agent Man, with an electric guitar, bass, synthesizer, and electronic drums. As they play, the scene occasionally switches to various disturbing images - a woman getting spanked with ping-pong paddles by two men in ape masks, a man wearing Chop-Suey Specs, a punk playing a double-necked guitar hooked to a space heater, and so forth. The song ends with an image of Mark Mothersbaugh wearing a John F. Kennedy mask, waving at the camera, as the screen fades to black.
We then fade in on a mural on the side of a building in Akron, featuring the torch of the Statue Of Liberty, and saying "Shine On America!" We then cut to Booji Boy, clad in an orange jumpsuit, running through a parking lot, and up the fire escape of the building. As he enters the building, the scene shifts to a large boardroom, (actually an exectuive dining room at a downtown Akron McDonald's.) General Boy, seated at the end of the table, under a large portait of Booji engages in the following exchange:
General Boy: Come in Booji. You're late. Have you got the papers that Chinaman gave you?
Booji Boy: Here it is, Dad. For the surprise?
General Boy: Yes, Booji. In the past, this information has been surpressed, but now it can be told. Every man, woman, and mutant shall know the truth about devolution.
Booji: Oh, Dad, We're All Devo!.
A series of rapid fire cuts of advertising letters spell out "Devo", and the Jocko Homo segment begins. Mark Mothersbaugh, dressed in a white lab coat, and a large bow-tie, addresses an audience of students in the Kent State Governance Chambers. During the "We Are Devo!" chorus, the camera cuts to three men in sunglasses with pantyhose over their heads, then back to the chamber. As the song progresses, the class grows rowdy, chanting along. Near the end, on a table in the middle of the chambers, three men in full body condoms wriggle while being prodded by students.
Finally, the song ends, and the Devolutionary Oath is displayed, superimposed in the TV closeup. The screen then fades to Booji Boy, tied to a chair, and shirtless. A man comes on screen, and stabs Booji while ripping off his mask. This fades to the TV closeup once more, where the credits run.
The film won first prize at an Akron Film Festival. Some members of Devo claim that it won because of subliminal messages inserted between frames. Gerald V. Casale denies this on the commentary for the video on The Complete Truth About De-Evolution Laserdisc and DVD. The two main segments of the film have also appeared on other Devo video releases, with Secret Agent Man appearing on The Men Who Make The Music, and Jocko Homo appearing on We're All Devo!.
The Truth About De-Evolution is a landmark in music videos. It was one of the first with an overarching concept and idea, and one of the first to be more than a cheap promotional tool. Truely Devo were pioneers in more than just music.