Review: Childish Gambino grips American reality in new song
Bob Dylan ‘Masters of war’ has been the first to be declared best protest song of our time, in 2014 by a Rolling Stones poll. Now, it’s Donald Glover turn.
‘This is America”, the latest track of the American-born actor and singer better known as Childish Gambino, has reached 73 million views in less than a week from its release.
To fully appreciate it I have been on the internet trying to dismantle the enigmas surrounding the song.
I was looking for details, insightful pieces of journalism, instead all I got was listicles, mere churnalism. On the web, you can find a pile-up of tweets, reactions and “Watch the satirical Childish Gambino’s latest music video”. No interpretation drawn, nor conclusion reached. This type of journalism is so empty, almost an insult to the core value of the job. But we all know the pressure of the newsroom, stuffing webpages with viral videos to reach the daily traffic target.
Whomever has been struggling, like myself, to get their head around ‘This is America’, has definitely noticed the sad reality. Cultural criticism in its traditional form is dying. Indeed, it has been replace by something, by far, way scarier: the internet phenomenon of the “fandom”.
People want to consume art, rather than consider it.
Fandom provides criticism, although of a different form. Fans are obsessive, have got their opinions and often these are pretty harsh. They know what they are talking about and have a closer bond with the creator, thanks to the era of technology, and so the critic has been replace by the co-creator, whom view is every bit as artistically worthy as the subject.
This scenario is definitely more diverse and entertaining, but there are losses of impartiality and independence. The “fandom” offers love, hate, strategically written nerdy reviews and nothing in between. So the future of traditional criticism is possibly evolving into crowd-sourcing and sharing comments.
At this point, I’m still left with my doubts.
Why has this song been released now? Why did it take so long for a mastermind to put into lyrics and choreography the Americans common feeling of oppression and imprisonment? Will this song affect, in any way, how Trump plays with politics?
The trap gospel is a piece of slick art that rebuff the DNA of the protest music and constructs it into an oddly graceful gust of torture, death and slavery.
Gambino sings a story of impossible escape. It’s a blood-soaked video of blank salvation, but here it is where the artifice begins to show its brilliant traces. The lyrics are so soul-moving that one wants to keep inspecting their dark interiors, waiting for the next “truth of regeneration” to sprout.
‘This is America’ is successful in every way. Its meaning belongs to every listener differently ,according to their belief and views, breaking down into unlimited implications.
But is it a coincidence that the song has been dropped right after Trump has stated that London hospitals are like a war zones, due to the high rate of knife crime?
Is Gambino trying to prove the President how wrongly powerful guns are as mass attacks tools?
Did we all forget the dreadful events happened at the release of a trigger, in USA during the past few months?
The general feeling is that Trump is trying to extend is “security protocols” overseas, declaring that:
“more guns on the streets in the hands of good guys are more efficient than weapons in the hans of bad guys”. (Phrase widely popular among guns rights advocates.)
If closely analysed, London has seen 58 victims of knife crimes since the start of 2018, while 58 people have been shot dead in Las Vegas, during a country concert in 2017, in the space of 10 minutes. During the Las Vegas accident, police has not been able to identify the perpetrator right away, making it more difficult to prove that armed good people can stop bad ones.
Childish’s Gambino video explores the twin spectacles of entertainment and ultraviolence as the motto of Trump’s America, shifting in between registers of afro rhythms and church chorus.
This makes of the song such an unorthodox production and whether saturated with a social or political rant, songs of resistance and salvation typically envision an antagonist or a threat, in this case Trump has been exposed in the lines. But Gambino doesn’t offer no solution. No paths forward, only a spiral of question.
Next, we hope to see a British artist creating a masterpiece with May’s response to dubious Trump’s statements.