Childish Gambino’s “This is America”

On Saturday, Donald Glover, under his Childish Gambino alter-ego, released a music video for a single of his latest album titled “This is America.” The Video opens with Glover shooting a person in the back to the head, before turning to the camera and dancing with a big, goofy smile on his face, while his song plays in the background. The rest of the music video follows the same theme, of a shirtless Childish Gambino dancing happily for the camera while acts of violence and atrocity occur behind him. This video has created controversy over it’s graphic images and violent narrative, but the message that is given is an important one. On your first watch through, it’s difficult to notice all of the problems that are happening behind Glover, and that is because he is who we want to see. We focus on the happy, fun dancer, which makes us forget about all of the problems happening around us. At one point, there’s even a group of kids who ignore all of the chaos happening around them to stay on their phones, showing how society can be oblivious to many of the problems that are happening to other people. Glover is aware he and many other popular rappers are victims of these kinds of oppression, even before they became rappers, but the public doesn’t want to see them talk about that, they only want the fun rappers to dance to. In the same vein, Gambino dancing in the music video distracts the viewer from all of the atrocities that are happening behind him. The set he used is reminiscent of American cities twenty to thirty years ago, symbolising the idea that nothing has changed in that time. At the end of the music video, Glover is running in the dark from a mob, because now that the stopped singing, they are going after him to now. Overall, this video is a good representation with many of the problems regarding race in America, and how we as a society chose to ignore many problems that others face and focus on the good and happy to distract us. More importantly, it shows how people only want Gambino and other artists to be making fun and happy music, not drawing attention to all these problems. After Kanye West’s recent remarks, it was refreshing to see Gambino be aware of his fame, and not willing to risk it in order to make a statement.

2 thoughts on “Childish Gambino’s “This is America””

  1. When, I first started watching the video, I found myself looking at Gambino and his dancers. I had to take my eyes off of what was in front of me and look at the bigger picture, in this case what was happening in the background. Besides, the two shootings that actually happen upfront the audience has to actually stop and look past what they want to look at. This was very powerful to me because it showed how easy it is to look past current events. Even if you do not think that you are everyone is capable of doing it. This video is great for calling out police brutality, and gun violence. As well as showing people that they need to stop being distracted, look at what is actually happening in front of them and do something about it, rather than pretending it will all just go away because it is not.

  2. On a differing perspective, while I appreciated the story Gambino was trying to tell, it was little hard to ignore his problematic past. He is someone who has been regarding to as a main stream black artist for White America. Many of his acts are geared towards white people and while they find the things he does funny at times I as well as others find his remarks rather uncomfortable. I consistently find myself in a struggle whether or not to take what he does seriously. For example with this video many of the imagery was very important and the story he was told was amazing however when your actions in real life don’t necessarily match your videos, it calls into questions your intentions and whether you are simply doing these things for clout!

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