AMBUSH! Arts & Culture
“If you ask me what I came to do in this world, I, an artist, will answer you: I am here to live out loud.”
― Émile Zola
― Émile Zola
Interpreting “This is America”
You may have seen or heard of a song or watched the video going around on social media platforms like Youtube, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc. The song “This is America” sends a strong message to anyone watching it. The song is by Childish Gambino, an American rapper. Many people have interpreted the video in their own sense to what it means to them. The video has many details and clues that express problems about gun violence, African American culture, and violent events in the United States.
There are many points that this video is trying to be put out. Gun violence in the United States has been a major problem and is being shown in the video. In today's world, there have been many school shootings, church shootings, public event shootings and many more. This video from Childish Gambino shows many different things wrong in America today. He expresses many things, and includes many details in his video. He also shows juxtaposition between African American people and culture
A first detail is shown in the opening of the video when he, Childish Gambino, is playing Jim Crow. Jim Crow, or Jim Crow Laws, was a name that typically represented repressive laws and customs that restricted African American rights in the United States. A second detail that is noticed is stating that America may love guns more than its African American people. In the video, guns are used twice and in both times the guns are treated carefully while no respect is given or shown to the victims that were shot at. There is a scene that shows people dancing while in the background, there is an uproar of tumult and crime. In the scene, Gambino is represented as America, dancing and distracting people from the violence and real life issues. Another detail that is expressed is a contiguous problem between African American people and their culture that is shown with the dancing and violence. Kathleen Newman-Bremang, a writer and producer says, “To me, this is a commentary on the way White America consumes black art while turning a blind eye to the injustices upheld by the white supremacy”. In the middle of the video, there is also a hooded person riding a white horse which symbolizes the apocalypse. A choir group in the video is shown as being shot with a machine gun which could symbolize the different church shootings. Also, in the video from 2:44 to 3:01, the music and camera motion stop. The silence of the 17 seconds represents the shooting at Marjory Stoneman High School where 17 people were killed. In a line from Gambinos’ song, he says “this is a celly, that’s a tool”. In a scene from the video, there are kids on their cell phones alluding to the use of phones to live stream, record and photograph police shootings and brutality which reveals and documents the truth. The line quote could also remark to a jail cell, which is a tool used to unjustly keep people incarcerated. In the video, Gambino also starts to smoke which could represent the drugs in America. There is also a group of empty and old aged vehicles which alludes to the lack of improvement America. During the last few seconds of the video, Gambino and others are either running away or getting chased. Is he running away from police brutality? Is he running away from shooters? Is he running away from the violence and chaos that is America?
What is your interpretation of the video?
-Derek Curley ‘18