Donald Glover - aka Childish Gambino - released the track and video for ‘This Is America’ over the weekend. Here’s why everyone is talking about it
If you fired up the Twitter machine at any point this weekend, you’ll have seen literally EVERYONE screaming and shouting about the new video from Donald Glover aka Childish Gambino. Called ‘This Is America,’ it’s already got more than 32 million views and it’s currently the number one trending video on YouTube.
What is the video?
The track, which Glover also performed on Saturday Night Live this weekend, and video are an explosion of violent choreography, gun warfare and American racism. It’s both stunning and frightening at the same time.
Who is Childish Gambino?
Donald Glover, 34, is a writer, actor and comedian who also performs under the name Childish Gambino. You’ll know him from the sitcoms 30 Rock and Community and his own TV show Atlanta. He’s also going to play Lando Calrissian in the upcoming Solo: A Star Wars Story.
As Childish Gambino, he’s released three albums and his 2016 song ‘Redbone’ received three Grammy Award nominations including for Record of the Year.
Basically, he’s a modern-day Renaissance man. He excels in everything he tries.
What are people saying about the video?
The song itself features background vocals by American rappers Young Thug, Slim Jxmmi, BlocBoy JB, 21 Savage, and Quavo, was written and produced by Glover and Ludwig Göransson, and switches between gospel, folk and dark trap sections as it progresses, with Glover using the triplet, ‘Migos flow’ style of rapping which has become popularised over the last few years.
Meanwhile, everyone from Janelle Monáe to Kanye West has been tweeting about the video, which was directed by frequent Glover collaborator Hiro Murai.
Glover’s been labelled a “genius” and the video’s been called “ground-breaking”.
What does it mean?
The video is absolutely packed with symbolism, from the references to Jim Crow - a caricature of a clumsy, dimwitted black slave which originated in the 1830s - to the running scenes from Get Out.
The creator of the TV show Dear White People, Justin Simien, posted a fascinating breakdown of how he interpreted the video. It’s well worth a read:
And on Twitter, one commenter pointed out how the video could be making further statements about suicide and celebrity culture.
‘This Is America’ seems to reflect the apparent conflict in Glover’s career as both a comedic genius and as a producer of some of the most searing critiques of American life.
It’s also a shocking, unvarnished confrontation of the violence rooted in American life and the way American racism treats black bodies.
Simply superb stuff.
- If you are struggling with suicidal thoughts, reach out to charities like Samaritans or Mind.
(Images: Childish Gambino / This is America / Getty)