childish gambino this is america

Donald Glover/YouTube

Childish Gambino surveys a distracted country in ‘This Is America’

Donald Glover dropped a new video for everyone to unpack.


Audra Schroeder


Posted on May 7, 2018   Updated on May 21, 2021, 4:31 pm CDT

As Donald Glover, aka Childish Gambino, was performing his second song on Saturday Night Live this weekend, he was revealing a new video for “This Is America” in real time.

Directed by Hiro Murai, who’s also a director on Glover’s FX series Atlanta, the video is something of a mirror of his SNL performance, though it goes much deeper on context and scope, especially in regards to police brutality and gun violence. Glover walks through a series of scenes filmed in a warehouse, and they change as the song’s tone does too. In one scene, Glover dances with a choir before spraying them with a machine gun, possibly a reference to the 2015 Charleston, South Carolina, church shooting.

Fans quickly got to work breaking down the imagery: the shootings, done by Glover; kids filming scenes of violence and rioting on phones; references to 19th-century folk art. As Glover says in the song: “This is a celly. That’s a tool.” It also touches on what we can be distracted by.

And we can’t forget that SZA cameo.

The video’s many elements became fodder for object-labeling memes, too. And, ironically, obsessing over memes could be seen as one of the many distractions spelled out in “This Is America.”

I thought the ‘This Is America’ format could be improved.
byu/Thehusseler inMemeEconomy

A new song likely means a follow-up to 2016’s Awaken, My Love! is coming, and the This Is America tour kicks off in September. In the meantime, Glover has given fans a lot to chew on—at least according to the more than 18 million views the video has garnered.

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*First Published: May 7, 2018, 12:48 pm CDT