Released for one week with the over 100 million views, the music video of Donald Glover’s latest single makes a dig at current situation of racial discrimination and gun violence behind its joyful melody and dance. This music video has not only made Donald Glover shoot to fame but bought about issues and introspection toward American society.
Involved in multiple fields, last week, Glover released his latest single “This Is America” with the name “Childish Gambino “, his stage name as a singer, and it has been two years since Donald Glover released his new songs last time. Within a week, this song and its music video has become the latest cultural phenomenon blowing up social media.
The Hidden messages
In the beginning of the music video, bare-chested Donald Glover swings his hips relaxedly with the melody. However, with added drum beats, he immediately takes out a pistol and shoots a masked black man in an executed way. In addition, in the middle of the song, he suddenly rakes toward black choirs with AK-47, which reflects in America, the gun control problems which have caused major shootings.
His pose when shooting in the music video reminds people that American white people dressed up as slaves with black face in the performance in 19th century. Besides, many netizens indicated that this pose is also similar with the Jim Crow, a character in ironic comics “Jump Jim Crow” published in 1832. At that time, people took Jim Crow as the synonym of nigger, and when the U.S. states enacted apartheid bills in 1876, the bills were called as Jim Crow laws often.
Besides, shooting the choirs is considered to imply Charleston church shooting in 2015. Then, a white victim murdered nine black followers with guns and admitted in a follow-up trial that he was committing the crime for ethic factors. Plus, he and other black people are chased by the white police in the end of the music video, and it is considered to represent black people’s disadvantaged position in the society.
Those hidden symbols and political messages have been heat debated and discussed in a week, and the views of the music video on Youtube have been over 110 million times. This Is America is also estimated to become the new winner of single ranking of Billboard, terminating rap singer Drake’s 15-week championship record.
The dilemmas of discrimination
The most brilliant and tricky part might be that it discusses the complicated relations between success/entertainment and discrimination in the video. The one who pulls the trigger is Donald Glover, the black man, with the lines in the background music: “Grandma told me. Get your money, black man.”
It is regarded that Glover accused a lot of black artists get used to entertain crowds with the discriminated stereotype of black people, earning money and fame, but doing so actually strengthens the public’s prejudice against black people, such as gun violence and criminals.
Directed by Hiro Murai, Donald Glover’s long-term partner, this controversial video is interspersed with bloody and violent scenes. British Financial Times commented that in the times that campus shootings occur frequently and African American community has repeatedly been discriminated against, as if holding a mirror, Donald Glover reflects the reality of America’s society.