“Don’t Catch You Slipping Up”
This past weekend, Childish Gambino aka Donald Glover , self described actor, writer & singer (he omits the title of rapper) dropped the bold controversial new music video, This Is America which was directed by Atlanta director Hiro Murai. In the video, Glover tackles the heavy topics of guns, violence and racism in America, head on. At first glance the visuals are disturbingly graphic as we follow a bare chested Glover, grinning & grimacing while parading & prancing through a enormous warehouse. In this satirical viewpoint, Glover performs while there is chaos going on in the background with riots, burning police cruisers, and teens recording the action on their cell phones for social media.
Filmed mostly in one long continuous shot, many viewing the subject matter may miss the video’s point, hence the need to watch more than once. There are several references to actual events acts of violence in the black community.
As the video begins, Glover gyrates to an afro-centric track before pausing to pull a revolver from his waistband and casually shooting a hooded man in the back of the head. He dances to choreographed routines with a group of teenagers dressed in school uniforms that include popular African dances like the Shaku Shaku & the Gwara Gwara. He also performs with a church choir before spraying them with a machine gun. The weapons are carefully wrapped handled with care and taken away while the victims are simply dragged off. Once he reaches the refrain, he sings “Grandma told me Get your money, Black man” as he lights a joint, hops on the roof of a car and does more fancy footwork. The camera pulls back to a wide shot and we catch a glimpse of Sza sitting on a car. Then all goes dark. The tone has changed and we see a completely terrified Glover being chased by an angry mob of whites as the video fades to black.
With over 32 million views on Youtube so far, the video is a success and Glover has definitely achieved his goal to be seen and heard. There is a message in the narrative and viewers will each undoubtedly have different take aways, interpretations, and opinions after watching the video.