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Donald Grover famously known as Childish Gambino is an all-rounder in terms of actor, writer, comedian, and musician. Though he was featured in a famous comedy series called the Community but stopped acting as early as 2012 and devoted all his time to pursuing his career in music with the pseudonym Childish Gambino. In this discussion, we will talk about his song "This Is America" which was released in the year 2018 and is a pop song that got a lot of acclamation. The song got Gambino a lot of awards like the Grammy Awards for Best rap and also the MTV Video Music Award for the best visuals and cinematography.
The opening scene of the song shows a gospel choir, the lyrics in this part is very generic of African American music and has the words" yeah yeah" and "go away". If the dictionary meaning of the term gospel is found it will be seen that it comes from the old English word god and spell which means bringing in the good news. Therefore in regards to African American history and the years of slavery, the reference is to the Cotton fields of Southern America where it was very prevalent that religious music would help the "slaves" to deal with miseries and challenges of life. In the next line, there is a change in tone and it goes hopeful and cheerful with Gambino voicing his inner desires of parties, a lot of money, and dance. His intention and desires are clear in the words " we just wanna party", where it shows how all he wants to do in life is just party and for that he needs money and thus in the next line he says " we just want the money" (Grover, 2020). Following the two lines, he is referring to a lady figure and says that he knows she wants to party just for him and she has got him dancing. The words hold because while these lyrics are being played, Gambino is seen dancing in a large warehouse, which is empty and secluded. The large empty warehouse is a representation of the United States and just as we get carried away in the cheerful tone something shocking takes place and Gambino is seen shooting a man on the head, at the bridge's end. The pose that Gambino is in while he attempts to shoot the man is a resemblance to Jim Crow, who is a racial caricature by the Superpower, of course, a mimicry of the African American slave and was featured in a song in the 1830s (Grover, 2020).Thus now we understand that Gambino's "This Is America " is a critic and revenge for the mainstream American society that has been oppressing and mocking the African American people even after decades of the end of slavery.
The fact that in the video it is shown that the gun with which the man is shot is respected more than the dead man with blood oozing out of his body. That becomes even more evident when the pistol is handed over to a child to be carried away wrapped in a silk cloth, the dead man is dragged out of the warehouse. Referring to how the Americans always put importance to materialistic things over human life which in this case is the American African people. The song has featured a protest against the ill practices. The next scene in the song and the lyrics which goes like " this is America, don't catch slipping up" hints at the racist and discriminating police force who targets the black men in the US more than the whites and how it is still a matter of great discussion and dismay to own a gun in America. The next lines of the song are a direct critic of Donald Trump's gun policies, as he says "yeah, this is guerilla", though the common man might think it is a reference to guerilla warfare it is actually about the theory of guerilla warfare (Grover, 2020).Then like most African American raps, it gets into a monotonous "yeah yeah" and talks about a bag which can be a bag of coke or maybe a bag of money. After this scene which does not make much connection to the main plot, the gospel choir is back, and in a shocking turn of the plot, Gambino shoots the entire choir, referring to the horrific mass shooting that took place in the Charleston Church in South Carolina.
Thus we see that in the course of the entire video, Gambino pulls out different aspects from popular culture and life and how even today the black men are subjected to oppression and are victimized. He tries to reach out to the crowd with the message as we humans should not get carried away with the glitter of social media, the expensive parties, and finances. Through this song, he brings to us the realities of American society and the societal evils of racism, gender, and racial violence, and gun possession which are plaguing society.
Grover, D. (2020). Childish Gambino - This Is America (Official Video) [Image]. Retrieved 29 October 2020, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VYOjWnS4cMY.
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