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Top 5 Things You Didn’t Notice in Childish Gambino’s “This Is America” Video

VO: Rebecca Brayton WRITTEN BY: George Pacheco
Script by George Pacheco   Are music videos relevant again? Childish Gambino sure is making a strong case. Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today we're counting down our picks for the Top 5 Things You Missed in Childish Gambino's "This Is America" Video. For this list, we'll be ranking the most noteworthy, intriguing and controversial content (and there’s a lot of it) in the latest music video from Childish Gambino, aka artistic polymath Donald Glover. Like our videos? Head over to WatchMojo.comsuggest to submit your own video ideas today!
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Are music videos relevant again? Childish Gambino sure is making a strong case. Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today we're counting down our picks for the Top 5 Things You Missed in Childish Gambino's "This Is America" Video.

For this list, we'll be ranking the most noteworthy, intriguing and controversial content (and there’s a lot of it) in the latest music video from Childish Gambino, aka artistic polymath Donald Glover.

#5: The Sunken Place
We’re actually starting our list at the end of the video. Here, our final image is full of fear and terror, as Glover is running away from what appears to be an angry mob of white people. The background is dark, almost pitch black, and could very well be interpreted as an homage to director Jordan Peele's Academy Award-winning horror comedy "Get Out." Gambino's song "Redbone" was featured on the soundtrack, so this seems like a safe bet. The harrowing imagery could be referencing the film’s concept of "The Sunken Place," the antithesis of being woke, where a marginalized population feel helpless against a surrounding atmosphere of violence.

#4: Bible References
"This Is America" is a music video which demands to be viewed multiple times, as there are many images which appear briefly, and in the background, behind Glover and his dancers. One such image is that of a white horse, juxtaposed with a cop car. This could be referencing the famous Bible verse from the Book of Revelations, which describes, in part, "a pale horse: and the name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him.” This combination of apocalyptic imagery with the growing news coverage of police brutality against the black community could certainly be seen as very intentional social commentary.

#3: Jim Crow
Put into place after the Civil War, Jim Crow was a system of racist local and state laws whose existence was designed to enforce segregation and oppression in the Southern United States. Some of Childish Gambino's movements and poses in the "This Is America" video seem to deliberately mimic those seen in vintage Jim Crow posters. This can be seen specifically during the video's opening scene, when Gambino shoots a man, execution style, in the back of the head. Glover/Gambino's dance moves in the video could also be seen as referencing the era of repugnant blackface minstrelsy entertainment popular during the long reign of Jim Crow.

#2: The Anti-Gun Message
You certainly aren’t going to miss seeing guns in this video. We've mentioned the opening execution, but later on in the clip, Glover also mows down a choir of gospel singers. But this is far from a typical violent gangsta fantasy. In each of these sequences, guns are treated in a much more reverent fashion than the bodies of those slain. This seems to clearly be referencing the growing desperate unrest in America with regards to gun control, gun violence and the state of mental health care. The image of Glover using a high powered rifle could be a direct reference the Charleston church shooting of 2015, and could also be referencing how terror threats seem to be the new normal.

#1: The Significance of Dancing
There’s a lot of dancing in this video, with a shirtless and muscled Gambino and kids busting African-inspired moves and viral dance crazes alike. But why? Well, the previously-mentioned blackface vaudeville acts involved exaggerated styles of dance, which Childish Gambino appears to reference with mimicking moves. His facial expressions switch between a smiling entertainer’s visage and an expressive look of outrage. Glover seems to be contrasting the financial and cultural primacy of black entertainment in white America to the indifference of the same society to the gun-driven violence that disproportionately plagues black citizens. It’s simultaneously highly entertaining and deeply disturbing to watch. And that seems to be the point.

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