This is America
In case you've been living under a rock, Childish Gambino dropped a new song called This is America, as well as a music video that has stopped the Internet.
Here's the video below:
To be completely honest, I wasn't exactly sure what I was watching, even after the fifth time I watched it. The haunting images of recurring violence, the sporadic and spastic facial expressions that flit across Glover's face, and the histrionic dancing... it all added up to a will to power and demand to understand.
It's impossible to ignore Donald Glover's genius, and his creative and intellectual prowess are on full display in the production of this video and the musicality and composition behind this song. Since the music video has dropped, there's been an abundance of analysis, with articles noting all the Easter egg references to Jim Crow, gun violence, and Get Out, and the apocalyptic undertones of the video. It's so dense, it makes you wonder where to start. (Refer to these articles from The Guardian, The Atlantic and Rolling Stone for some of the most compelling– and controversial–analyses to date.)
My takeaway, which is probably tenuous and non-encompassing, revolves around the contemporaneous nature of the progression of pop culture and the brutal, violent, race-driven realities of this country. This music video shows the latter functioning as the backdrop for the former, and how the essence of the video hinges on our inability to see the chaos that ensues from our fixation with short-lived celebrity and spectacle. We're denying ourselves a truer sense of reality and humanity.
It's a startling vision that is hard to come to terms with, but maybe that's why we're so fixated on this video right now. It's a time to reflect on the nation's polarized and politicized views about gun violence, police brutality, race relations and the media. It's a breath of fresh air to see such potent work from an artist like Childish Gambino when we're begging for artists like Kanye to say something similar.
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