On Saturday Night Live’s most recent episode, Donald Glover (a.k.a Childish Gambino) released a politically-charged music video for his song “This Is America.” The video has already garnered over 17 million views on YouTube, and for good reason.
After performing the song on SNL, Glover debuted the Hiro Murai-directed video. In it, Glover sashays shirtless around a warehouse while kids in school uniforms dance around him. Glover and the children are relatively unphased by the hazardous scene that surrounds them. Fire, police vehicles and sirens, and riots rage on in the background, while Glover continues to around his subjects.
According to CNN, the video represents America’s misguided agenda, arguing that onlookers are more preoccupied with the viral parts of black culture (i.e.: dancing), rather than what’s actually happening in the socio-economic and political backgrounds of the country.
“For the people who didn’t understand childish gambino’s video [and are] only focusing on his dancing is just mind blowing. It clearly shows the violence that is currently going on in America, the people entertaining viral dance moves instead of what’s really happening & so much more,” wrote one Twitter user.
Another issue that Gambino tackles is the seemingly never-ending gun violence problem in America. Trigger warning: people are shot in this video. However, it’s the guns that are treated with more care than those whose lives are lost.
The video opens with Gambino shooting a tied-up hostage. He later slaughters an entire gospel choir, an obvious reference to the Charleston church shooting in 2015. In both instances, the guns are handled more delicately than the dead bodies.
“Yeah, this is America (woo, ayy) / Guns in my area (word, my area) / I got the strap (ayy, ayy) / I gotta carry ’em,” Gambino croons in the song, along with Blocboy JC, Slim Jxmmi, Young Thug and 21 Savage.
Despite its controversial nature, the video has been lauded as a work of art. Many other celebrities have also taken to Twitter to praise Gambino.
“This Video Is Iconic,” tweeted Jaden Smith.
Erykah Bade tweeted, “Donald Glover is a Genius.”
Adele even dedicated part of her birthday post to him.
“Ps Childish Gambino how the hell do you have time to offer us so much greatness on so many platforms,” she wrote. “I adore you x.”
And in the event you missed her, the video also features a cameo from SZA.