Last Updated 22 Nov 2022

The Music Video for “This is America” by Childish Gambino

Category Culture
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The subject at hand is a song created by Childish Gambino. formally known as Donald Glover, a rising Black American artist. The song was titled “This is America" and was released in 2018 under the labels firch and RCA, “This is America” won many awards including the MTV Video Music Award for Best Video with a Social Message, a Grammy for Song of the Year, a Grammy Award for Best Music Video. and another Grammy Award for Record of the Year. The song sparked controversy through America seeing as the music video and the lyrics portrayed issues regarding racism and other racially based predicaments that take place in America. a touchy subject for some individuals Gambino used different tactics to convey his messages, expressing a few main subjects while allowing the audience to further dissect and discover novel interpretations linked to the central one.

Initially, the video produced for the song is one that provokes an intense tone that captures the spectator‘s attention and drives them to think deeper on the significance. In the beginning of the music video the camera captures a man walking towards a chair that holds a guitar. The man sits down and commences to play the guitar, a chorus of voices in the background rising and Gambino turning around and dancing, the camera coming closer to his area. As the camera pans out. we see the man from a few seconds before with a sack over his head, hands tied, and Gambino pulls out a weapon and fires it, handing the gun to another man who ushers it away, the chorus starting immediately after. The man shot is dragged out of frame, the death seeming to be forgotten instantly.

The powerful scene was used to portray the gun violence present in the nation. Over the years news outlets cover more and more stories that have to do with a person gaining access to a weapon, in most cases a gun, and taking the lives of many innocents. The death of the man in the video is a representation of the many lives lost when unfit people have access to deadly weapons, the dragging of his carcass demonstrating the rapidness in which people forget and move on (“Childish Gambino- This is America” YouTube, uploaded by Donald Glover, 6 May 2018.) According to Gun Violence in the United States A Nation in a League ofits Own by Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, “The United States stands out not only for the frequency and deadliness of mass shootings and firearm use, but also in the lack of modern gun safety policiesr" Amongst the various other countries, the Unites States is the one most effected by gun use, the terrible act of gun violence being a defining factor and evidence of the nation’s failure to protect its citizens through gun-regulation.

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Another powerful scene shot in the video was the scene where Gambino dances with a group of adolescents, chaos ensuing in the background He makes it a point to show police cars with their lights on and people running around with weapons in hand, The significance of that shot is to show how police, when around black folkI can cause commotion, the stories of police brutality against the black community creating a divide between them, fear associated with the presence of the police. There are various other scenes in the video that can provoke viewers to think deeper on what the artist is trying to convey, however the scenes discussed are ones that caught my eye. Gambino did an excellent job in depicting his themes involved with the song visually, the lyrics not needed to understand his message.

Additionally, Gambino utilizes lyrics and other audible components to exhibit his ideas and his purpose behind the composition of the song, The artist uses a choir in several parts of the song, the intention behind it being to show the listener a bit of their culture, the voices blending to resemble the way the black community’s ancestors sang and used music. Lyrics that are part of the refrain and that show the years of cruelty and injustices towards the black community are, “America, I just checked my following list, and you go tell somebody. You mothafuckas owe me.” As our youth attend school and learn more of our history, they are exposed to the reality that Black Americans have been mistreated, exploited, and never fully repaid by the country that falsely claimed to provide liberty for all.

In our current day we still see a lot of racial injustice, minorities sharing the same struggle yet the black community experiencing it more publicly. Gambino states these lyrics to remind the listeners of the history that America has with Black Americans, progress nut yet reaching its fullest capacity. Another set of lyrics that show the racial injustices that Black Americans unfortunately face is, “You just a black man in this world. You just a barcode. You just a black man in this world, drivin‘ expensive foreigns." These are the false beliefs that society has planted into the minds of our minorities. Even if a black man or woman is successful society finds a way to degrade their achievements and their being. The racial discrimination in different careers and in life in general are extremely prominent, the practice outdated and unnecessary.

Through his lyrics, Gambino connects with his fans, vocalizing his own struggles as a Black American in today’s society. Furthermore, I chose to analyze and dissect this song and its music video because it allowed me to dive more into the topic we have discussed in this class before which is political philosophy and power. Political philosophy is a general political belief. This correlates to political philosophy and power due to the fact that it involves racial issues and gun control issues, both which are involved often in politics. Gambino makes his stance on gun control clear, his advocation shown through the effort he put into address gun control. Power is involved because Gambino highlights how society attempts to maintain power over the black community through degrading them each day and by making them go through discrimination. Our nation chose to abuse and manipulate Black Americans for decades, the practices widely known and some still in effect.

As citizens of the Unites States and allies to the black community, we must never let that pan of history be forgotten. Childish Gambino used his fame as an artist to bring light to the heavy topics previously mentioned through the song "This is America" and its music video. In conclusion, “This is America“ is a song that reminds us of the struggles our black folks deal with and have dealt with for yeals and the terrible state our nation has fallen to, the visual and audible components being powerful enough to convey several perspectives on serious issues. Gambino created a novel and modern video and song to express old circumstances that are still plaguing our country. The song was made to inspire change, to recognize these situations and grow as a nation to become more inclusive, accepting, and more involved in our laws and safety.

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