Culture

Donald Glover Takes An Unflinching Look At Gun Violence With His Shocking ‘This Is America’ Video 

by Tod Perry

May 7, 2018

May 2018 may be seen as the month when multi-hyphenate performer Donald Glover boldly stepped to the forefront of U.S. pop culture.

Later in May, the writer-star-producer of FX’s “Atlanta” will appear as the iconic Lando Calrissian in Disney’s upcoming “Solo: A Star Wars Story,” and his musical alter-ego, Childish Gambino, is set to release a new album later this year. 

On May 5, Glover hosted “Saturday Night Live” and performed his new song, “This Is America.” While his shirtless, minimalist performance of the single had stark overtones, he simultaneously released a video for the track, which directly depicts the U.S.’s history of violence against black Americans.

The video opens with Glover dancing in a warehouse as a stripped-down funk beat pulses in the background, propping up a background choir crooning, “yeah, yeah, yeah.”

But things quickly become ominous when Glover shoots a hooded black man execution-style. 

In the video, Glover dances through a warehouse, a metaphor for America’s streets. His attitude and body language alternate between ecstasy and doom as he coldly guns down a church choir, lights up a joint, and dances with school children.

The video’s focus on Glover’s shirtless body shows off his expressive dancing while calling attention to the violence perpetrated on black bodies. 

Glover’s decision to release a caustic video that echoes the sentiments of the Black Lives Matter movement shows he’s a fearless artist. The video is already attracting the type of controversy Disney executives would probably hope to avoid in the run-up to the family-friendly “Solo: A Star Wars Story.”  

“This Is America” also stands in sharp contrast to the recent tweets and interviews done by rapper Kanye West, who once was known for his bold political statements. Recently, however, West has been criticized for claiming 400 years of slavery was “a choice” and for supporting Donald Trump. Kanye’s recent outburst was lampooned by Glover and the SNL cast in a sketch reminiscent of the horror film, “A Quiet Place.”

As the sun sets on West’s social relevance, Glover’s impact as an artist is on the rise.

Share image by Eli Watson/Flickr.

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Donald Glover Takes An Unflinching Look At Gun Violence With His Shocking ‘This Is America’ Video