An Expert’s Take On The Symbolism In Childish Gambino’s Viral ‘This Is America’ Video | TIME

An Expert’s Take On The Symbolism In Childish Gambino’s Viral ‘This Is America’ Video | TIME

Donald Glover released a new song and music video “This Is America” under his musical moniker Childish Gambino on Saturday Night Live this weekend — and single-take music video is laden with metaphors about race and gun violence in America.
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An Expert’s Take On The Symbolism In Childish Gambino’s Viral ‘This Is America’ Video | TIME
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82 Responses

  1. SeeriousBizness says:

    dont need an expert

    • Uncle Steve says:

      SeeriousBizness so why did you watch it?

    • SeeriousBizness says:

      Uncle Steve because i want to…

    • Aaron Fawcett says:

      😂😂 they didn’t look anywhere deep enough actually. Many things like the Jim Crowe stance for the first gun shot, the “this is a tool” line when the mobile phones are out, the care and respect shown to the guns but not the corpses… so many things were missed.
      Unsurprisingly one of the strongest messages condemning other artists for not using their platform in this way… can you not hear the Tune to Gucci Gang when he says contraband?
      When he talks about followers it’s referencing Chris Brown… these samples are not to flatter the artists but to call them out to step up because they are simply distractions from the issues everyday African Americans are facing (depicted in the background)

    • PietreADI says:

      Lmao what fucking bullshit. “Oh poor Americans” says the 3rd world people who live in poverty and make $2 a day

    • Bulrock says:

      That’s right. The message is quite universal.

  2. Mo Lester says:

    Expert? Please.

    • Will Chesterton says:

      right, this boof ass mf doesnt know about hip hop

    • Perfected says:

      Hotel? Trivago.

    • Bio Kimistry says:

      “Guthrie P. Ramsey, Jr. is a musicologist, pianist, composer and the Edmund J. and Louise W. Kahn Term Professor of Music at the University of Pennsylvania.  A widely published author, he’s the author of Race Music:  Black Cultures from Bebop to Hip-Hop, The Amazing Bud Powell:  Black Genius, Jazz History, and the Challenge of Bebop and AfricanAmerican Music:  Grove Music Essentials (Kindle Edition).  He is currently completing two new books, a collection of mid-career essays titled Who Hears Here?  and a monograph history of African American music from the slave-era to the present.”

      Bitch, please.

    • Lance Miller says:

      Bio Kimistry copy and paste.

  3. GangBlud says:

    lmao stop.

  4. Kee Sha says:

    This explanation was weak af and missed a lot of points

    • DaAngry Ant says:

      I swear you took the thought out of my head and they conveniently stopped right before the end of the video. So called “expert”, you don’t have to go to college to decode symbolism. Problem is, they’re not “smart”. They just think everyone else is stupid. Thumbs down on this weak💩.

    • Kurly Kayla says:

      The only thing I agreed with was their interpretation of the final moments of Gambino running away from the mob.

    • Chaz Meister says:

      You should mention what it missed then.

    • James Alde says:

      It’s actually still the point. You gotta take your time and focus to see the real problem and what’s really going on. Because we get easily distracted by many things.

  5. adrod says:

    “EXPERT” y’all hilarious

    • adrod says:

      FN- 2187 it’s pretentious to assume you could be an “Expert” on someone’s creative expression. Sit down.

    • Gabeh Gutierrez says:

      These interpretations were very pedestrian compared to what twitter came up with 😂

    • Bio Kimistry says:

      “Guthrie P. Ramsey, Jr. is a musicologist, pianist, composer and the Edmund J. and Louise W. Kahn Term Professor of Music at the University of Pennsylvania.  A widely published author, he’s the author of Race Music:  Black Cultures from Bebop to Hip-Hop, The Amazing Bud Powell:  Black Genius, Jazz History, and the Challenge of Bebop and AfricanAmerican Music:  Grove Music Essentials (Kindle Edition).  He is currently completing two new books, a collection of mid-career essays titled Who Hears Here?  and a monograph history of African American music from the slave-era to the present.”

  6. Imani Gordon says:

    Its our violent culture as Americans that is plaguing our society. Don’t try to start with black people are the problem rant. This music video is referencing how in our society we use methods to distract us from our own actions. We create false ideas saying that we want to protect what holds us together but put our guns above ourselves and what really are guns but mass killing machines? In the video Gambino is taking two different stances one as a black man in the music industry and another as an american. In our society we want entertainers to dance and show off moves so we can be completely oblivious of whats going around us. He test this theory at the beginning of the video!!!!!! He shot a guy but we completely forgot and starting liking the music. It show how we pass over thing as american so quickly especially in the black communities. In the end when he is running is symbolic to even when we are enjoying life we are just running from the problems, so stop blaming, stop pointing fingers, and lets handle our shit basically!!!!!!!

  7. Gears Starting says:

    I may be wrong about this, but I think that Donald Glover running down a hallway at the end may have had something to do with the shooting of Stephon Clark, an unarmed man that was shot multiple times (some in the back) and killed in his yard while holding a cellphone. I noticed that the music video had said “This is a cellie. This is a tool”. Police thought that Stephon Clark may have been the suspect that they were looking for and say they shot him because they thought he had a tool for breaking into vehicles that he could use against them (a strange reason considering that he was yards away from them and would have posed no real threat with a tool). Stephon Clark was not the suspect, and he was not carrying a tool for breaking into vehicles or something that could logically be used as a weapon. It was night time, and Stephon Clark had ran from the police, so Donald Glover was running down a dark hallway. It may have also been a statement saying “People are wondering why Stephon Clark ran from the police, but, with all that is going on, could you blame him for running?”

    • Vanessa Louis says:

      pinklove473 wow you get it…kudos to you hunny this is ancient news but many are still lost in the whole point…lol thus kind of art and symbolism although sad is very creative and meaningful

    • Tantheman93 says:

      Stephan Clark wasn’t the suspect???wtf are you talking about? He was literally going around breaking peoples windows before the cops came… but you try to paint it like he was walking to math class. Give me a break

  8. FootInYourFaceMovies says:

    I thought that the first shot was to show how people killed are faceless and just another statistic. The dancing with chaos in the background is to show how distant people are from things happening in the real world. The shot of the cars prior to the ending means to me that we are moving backwards (Racial tension is higher than it should be) I believe this is showcased by the cars getting progressively more old. The final shot of Glover running was to me how unarmed black males are frequently profiled, despite being innocent, or undeserving of their fate (nudity represents pureness, like a new born). Thanks if you read it all.

  9. RighteousOnes312 says:

    Just because Ramsey is a professor, it doesn’t mean he’s an expert. This is the weakest analysis yet

    • Bio Kimistry says:

      RighteousOnes312 “Guthrie P. Ramsey, Jr. is a musicologist, pianist, composer and the Edmund J. and Louise W. Kahn Term Professor of Music at the University of Pennsylvania.  A widely published author, he’s the author of Race Music:  Black Cultures from Bebop to Hip-Hop, The Amazing Bud Powell:  Black Genius, Jazz History, and the Challenge of Bebop and AfricanAmerican Music:  Grove Music Essentials (Kindle Edition).  He is currently completing two new books, a collection of mid-career essays titled Who Hears Here?  and a monograph history of African American music from the slave-era to the present.”

    • This Guy says:

      RighteousOnes312 the video is only a minute long. Did you want him to try and fit an essay into that?

    • This Guy says:

      OldskolFan Wow, you take the cake for stupidity. You clearly never went to University if you think this professor got a degree in sociology as a professor of music history.

    • OperationDeton8 says:

      RighteousOnes312

      … You do realize that there *are* , in fact, people out there that *don’t* understand some of the common themes in this piece? If you’ve watched some reaction videos (not just your favourite channels) you’d find that out pretty quick.

      Sooo, thank you, TIME, for giving the public some quick and easy information.

  10. Eri P says:

    i see the term “expert” is used loosely

    • john doe says:

      This “expert” gives us nothing. First off, art is subjective. Secondly, his observations are extremely basic and everyone should’ve been able to get their on their own. I love this video, but it blows my mind how it’s getting attention like it’s some avant-garde masterpiece. It’s pretty basic stuff, it’s not even close to deep or thought provoking, unless your an absolute moron and don’t already have a grasp on the problems in this country

    • Sal Luz says:

      PietreADI some Americans do just as badly.

    • wickedcrazyjam :P says:

      Eri P that’s what im saying
      This expert seemed so ignorant

    • Sal Luz says:

      john doe chill.

  11. Usually Sushi says:

    Sorry to say that the Washington Post did it better in just as little time. But I appreciate them at least bringing more traffic to this, because it needs to be seen and analyzed and understood.

  12. Hating me is conforming says:

    At the end everyone is running from the same thing.

    • alberto gonzález says:

      Hdnxyh Bsjjcif everyone is discriminated man, colleges institutionally discriminate against whites and asians every year, plus the media loves blaming “cis straight white males”, and you can see racist comments against whites right here on this thread

    • The Donald says:

      Said the white guy. Nice.

    • Vanessa Louis says:

      you got it right this time! Bravo thats the whole concept in a nutshell

    • The crap lord Sell says:

      TMAC13reloaded False, you look closely. There were people of all races chasing behind and running away from the same thing. Nice try though

  13. Yummy Donuts says:

    Unfortunately it would appear that the washington post has beat you to the ‘we need to capitalize on this viral trend’ before you. But, don’t worry their video was just as flaccid as yours. Keep reaching, you might be able to grab the low hanging fruit next time.

    • Kern Albert says:

      Where’s your analysis? Do you have something to contribute or rebut?

    • Yummy Donuts says:

      @Kern Albert, No, I have no further interesting analysis to add, so much like the Times should have done, I will take my own advice and not make a video on the subject. But, what that doesn’t stop me from doing is critiquing a garbageo video that was clearly churred out quickly to get dem clicks.

      And this is where I would add an inflammatory comment, most likely at your mom, to get you all riled up, but I am not in the mood, so thank you for your time breh.

  14. Nicholas The Bold says:

    I did not need to be an expert to get these references.

  15. Keya says:

    I knew this would go all over TIME’s head.

    • gene7arttech says:

      Amen, In addition, others do not realize at the beginning he is doing a voodoo dance move as in Benin. They also missed out on the Gwara-gwara dance moves that is popular in Nigeria, along with other popular dances. Also the Black Panther dance challenge was added in too. Their missing the African connection in this video especially with the African school children. They didn’t talk about the Jim Crow pose. Nevertheless, we are captivated by the whole scene, many people said they had to watch it many times to try to figure out what they were watching and how their visual viewing missed certain segments of the video. Overall, time mag put some white or black individual, you know the ones who say we have choice, and expect us to believe their interpretation. GTFOH time

    • RabidDogma says:

      Seems to me like it went over your head. The main thrust of the video IS that we’re taking everything from black culture while ignoring everything that’s happening to blacks in America.

      Then again, you’re only here to pretend that you’re smarter than you are.

    • Jordan Harney says:

      I think you meant the washington shitpost

    • Glory Boys says:

      Is that an invite ?

    • The crap lord Sell says:

      RabidDogma What exactly is happening to blacks in America. We have brought 99% of our problems on ourselves and we constantly keep living up to it.

  16. WLDFLD says:

    What is a metaphor?

    “You know, like when he guns down the churchgoers, that’s a metaphor for when those chuchgoers were gunned down”

    • PietreADI says:

      Lmao what fucking bullshit. “Oh poor Americans” says the 3rd world people living in fear for violence, living in poverty and make $2 a day

    • The Donald says:

      Notice that a white man didn’t gun anyone down in the vid – Gambino did all the shooting himself. Definitely a commentary on gun violence in America, but I see it a little more innocently, like he as an artist is killing the old cliches of black entertainment – the bluesman and the choir. It’s as if he’s saying that’s all in the past, let’s get rid of that once and for all and look at where we are at right now. Just my thpughts.

    • Our New Design says:

      Lol

    • BCHIN says:

      Ikr so deep. And when he’s running, that symbolizes running!

  17. SierraDeeTV says:

    all the trendy dances and viral videos & all the crazy things that we are so distracted by in life have us distracted from the truth and the blood shed that is going on in this country. Our brothers and sisters are dying every day and all we do is whip & Nae Nae you feel me? We also get distracted by a good beat. We can watch somebody be killed in cold blood but as soon as that trap beat drops we totally forget what we just saw. We as a nation have gotta do better.

    • Jennifer Wagner-Jones says:

      SierraDeeTV Well put. I would like to read your entire analysis of this video.

    • sonny lee says:

      SierraDeeTV why just our nation…every nation has similar issues and much of it caused by US’s imperialistic control

    • Wandering Oryx says:

      n balaboon is it racism for china banning hip hop because they dont want delinquency to rise among youth because of how violent the medium is and full of profanity?

  18. Bob England says:

    Why dont you ask Donald Glover to explain his video? …✌️

  19. ARottenMuffin says:

    Everyone can speculate, which is exactly that, speculation. Everyone will perceive the ‘meanings’ and ‘symbolism’ they see in their own way, which there are undoubtedly in the video.But what I’d want would be to hear Donald Glovers own personal explanation on what he intended with all of it.

  20. Anthony Turner says:

    The dancing is also to distract you from what’s going on in the background…. it’s proving Gambino’s point of getting so caught up in dances and crazes that you can’t even focus on the bigger picture….which is the chaos in the background ….genuis music video.

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