During his Saturday Night Live performance over the weekend, Donald Glover aka Childish Gambino premiered two new songs; while on stage, he also did a live performance of the insanely powerful, highly choreographed and nuanced music video for one of the new singles, “This Is America,” and the internet is ablaze over it. The video masterfully contrasts the absurd and terrifying realities of modern life in the US for African Americans, specifically for black men, depicting a smiley, upbeat song with dance numbers and casual murders by firearm.
There’s a lot to unpack in this piece, but here are a few things we noticed you might have missed on a first viewing or would want to keep an eye out for if you haven’t watched it yet. The video starts out with a relatively jovial vibe, that is until Glover shoots his guitar player in the back of the head, which is already wrapped in canvas fabric as if he’s been prepared to be shot. Second, the way the guns are sanctimoniously handled after each shooting in the video (it happens twice) — they’re wrapped in red fabric, gently handled by a well-dressed man who brings them in and takes them away.
And the dancing, which happens throughout the video while instances of police brutality, gun violence, and riots occur, is almost certainly a metaphor for how America’s elite and our politicians keep their own agenda moving while dancing around the insanity going on in our country. The video, which ends with Glover running through a dark tunnel from an angry mob of white people, is terrifying and the look on his face in the final seconds is a total contrast between how he appears the rest of the video, which is a combination of satirical happiness punctuated with moments of unbridled aggression.
“This Is America” is getting a ton of attention and rightfully so, racking up over 19 million views in its first 48 hours online and prompting a ton of think-piece analysis stories in major press outlets breaking down the narrative an symbolism. See it for yourself above and many thanks to Donald Glover for this brilliant work of art sparking deeply necessary conversation about this frightening point in American history none of us want to be living in.