Childish Gambino’s video for This Is America is being lauded as a work of art. It’s great to witness a music video causing such a flutter in America and not just on social media. I cannot remember a video being discussed so much, not since Robin Thicke and his topless women, yet not a whisper on the Afterword.
A lot of thought has gone into the video, more so than the song itself I would think. It is entertaining, gripping, surprising, upsetting viewing featuring Donald Glover, Childish Gambino himself, in a mesmerising central performance. The music is an intriguing mix of African and Hip Hop styles. It is well worth a watch or two or more if you haven’t seen it. Having seen it, it’s difficult to imagine the song as a stand alone piece of work. This Is America needs the visual images to work.
I’m told there are hidden meanings and metaphors. The trousers he wears, the way he dances, the facial contortions, the care for the firearms after use, the gospel singers, the burning cars, the running, the mobile phones, the white horse are all deliberately deployed to convey specific messages. Glover, to his credit, has no intention of explaining anything about it.
I find it has greater impact on me and I enjoy it more if I take it on face value. Does it help now that I know the dancing refers to Jim Crow or the South African freedom dance, the gwara-gwara? After a few viewings, maybe so.
However, my advice is to lie back, relax and let it all sink in. This Is America? Oh deary me. Looks like an apocalypse. Stunning. Now, what’s all this *hidden* symbolism about?
The question remains; is it art? And, if so, is it great art? Is it a masterpiece?