This Is America: The Video We Didn’t Know We Needed Image

I know what you all are thinking: “This is Film Threat, why are you writing about a music video?”

Normally you would be right. But sometimes a piece of cinematic art comes along that transcends category. And that something right now is Childish Gambino’s latest masterpiece:

This is America!

“…a shocking, yet surreal look at how Black lives are treated with regards gun violence, police brutality, and media attention in America.”

It was released this past Saturday. Literally two days later, the video hit 42 million views! It’s trending in top 5 of over 20 major countries. And next to Avengers: Infinity War, it seems to be the only thing people are talking about.

The video is a shocking, yet surreal look at how Black lives are treated with regards gun violence, police brutality, and media attention in America.

It begins with Donald Glover (aka Childish Gambino) by himself, dancing and “feeling the music.” Then without warning, executes a man in a chair by shooting him in the back of the head. He looks at the camera right after then begins the chorus,This is America,” and continues dancing and smiling for the camera like nothing even happened.

From there the video goes down the rabbit hole of how we (Americans) handle shootings and Black death in this country. Gambino makes a point to keep dancing to distract us from the killings, rioting, and assaults by law enforcement going on in the background. Basically, the way the media tries to get to us to move on from the most recent tragedy by providing asinine distractions.

As a Black man living this country for over 40 years, and who has experienced first hand the effects of gun violence and not seeing justice for Black folks, I see this video as more of a wake-up call than simple entertainment…”

The video is chock full of symbolism, from images of old “Jim Crow” paintings, to the way the guns are treated with baby-like care while the Black bodies are discarded like someone taking out the trash. The most haunting visual comes from a scene where the physical representation of death dressed in black comes riding on a white horse with a police escort!

(If you search YouTube, there are many videos circulating that discuss what each of the scenes actually means.)

On a personal note, this video spoke to my soul. As a Black man living this country for over 40 years, and who has experienced first hand the effects of gun violence and not seeing justice for Black folks, I see this video as more of a wake-up call than simple entertainment. This is something we are going to be talking about for years to come! I’ve even seen tweets recommending that it’s taught in college courses.

For those of you in the dark, Childish Gambino is the alter ego of actor, singer, rapper, comedian, director, (and every other title you can give him) Donald Glover.

But this isn’t the Donald Glover you remember from the NBC sitcom, “Community!” What we are now seeing before us is the transformation of one of the greatest artist of our time. And we’ve seen this coming since his first album, Camp, all the way up till last year when he received a Grammy nomination for his wildly popular hit, Redbone.

Watch the video. Let it soak in. Process it. Then comment on your take of it. We need to keep this discussion going… and not get distracted by the next shiny distraction.

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