B2 High-Intermediate US 454 Folder Collection
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♪ This is America ♪
- Childish Gambino's This Is America has become
an overnight cultural phenomenon.
And, it's definitely the kind of video
you have to watch more than once.
Throughout the piece, Gambino plays the
complex role of America herself, from violence,
to the use of entertainment as a distraction.
He's playing both the caricature and the ring leader.
The internet was quick to pick up
tons of hidden messages that were
scattered throughout the video.
Here's some that you might've missed.
The first scene opens up on a black man
walking up to a guitar in an empty warehouse.
He looks a lot like Treyvon Martin's father,
but, contrary to popular belief,
it's actually L.A. artist Calvin the Second.
Gambino comes into view wearing pants and shoes
that Twitter users have linked to old confederate uniforms.
He's also wearing two small gold chains,
a double entendre for physical bondage
and obsession with consumerism.
He dances with exaggerated movements and facial expressions.
He moves closer to the seated man,
who no longer has his guitar,
and has a bag covering his head.
(gun shot)
♪ This is America ♪
- The song's first bridge talks about how
entertainment media is serving as a
distraction from bigger issues at hand.
The girl here represents America,
and the frame here, represents real life
injustices that are happening.
Shaking the frame distorts and blurs what's really going on.
Dear White People creator Justin Simien
was quick to point out on Twitter that
the movements and expressions Gambino does
seem to be modeled after Jim Crow.
This caricature was commonly used
as a reference in minstrel show in the 18 and 1900s,
where white actors would perform in blackface
and act out black stereotypes.
♪ Listen here you won't let me speak ♪
♪ Don't you know the Suwannee River is a dried up creek ♪
♪ Come on and carry me home ♪
- Many also noted that aside from dances from viral videos,
one specific dance they're doing is the Gwara Gwara,
which originated in South Africa.
This could be a possible nod to similarities
between racism in America and South Africa's apartheid.
On the flip side, some have interpreted
the dancing as a method of survival.
The dancers are dancing with Gambino,
who's playing America, and they're never injured.
Many on Twitter have cited that America
has a tendency to applaud for black culture,
while turning their backs to the issues we face.
Whether the dancing is used to numb the pain,
gain social media followers, or simply survive,
his movements are a literal and figurative
distraction from the chaos in the background.
The hooded man riding the white horse seen here,
is a biblical symbol for the apocalypse.
The only elements of the video that shock you
out of Gambino's trance like movements is the shootings.
At face value, the murders are nods
to modern day American gun violence.
The second verse is preluded with a happy choir,
who's gunned down by Gambino.
It's impossible not to draw parallels
with the Charleston church shooting,
which was found to be racially motivated.
But, a slightly less noticeable symbol
was the care in which the guns
were handled after each shooting.
The guns were wrapped in red cloth with care.
Many online have inferred that this represents
how Red America values guns over human lives.
While all this violence is taking place in the warehouse,
which looks eerily similar to a prison, Gambino says,
This could have a double meaning.
One, how cell phones are being used
as tools to document this brutality.
Or two, celly could mean cell block,
a commonly used tool to unjustly keep
blacks in a cycle of incarceration.
The final scenes of the video show Gambino
and SZA surrounded by old stagnant cars,
still inside the closed off warehouse.
Twitter was quick to point out that this scene
represents lack of progression and forward movement.
The video ends with Gambino running like hell,
doing everything in his power to escape.
It's as if he's snapped out of America's spell
and is doing everything he can to find a way out.
Are there any other hidden messages we might've missed?
Let us know in the comments below.
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Hidden Meanings Behind Childish Gambino's 'This Is America' Video Explained

454 Folder Collection
Samuel published on May 17, 2018
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