Donald Glover’s “This Is America” music video has inspired countless think pieces across the internet over the last several days (read Vulture’s “What It Means When Childish Gambino Says ‘This Is America,’” or NPR’s “Donald Glover’s ‘This Is America’ Holds Ugly Truths To Be Self-Evident”), but what does the song and video actually mean in Glover’s eyes? It turns out he’s not going to give fans that answer so easily.
E! caught up with Glover on the red carpet of the 2018 Met Gala and asked the artist behind Childish Gambino what his intentions were when writing “This Is America” and filming its instant-classic music video. Glover responded with self-aware and politically-charged misdirection: “I just wanted to make, you know, a good song. Something people could play on Fourth of July.”
Glover sported a grin and refused to comment further on the song, but his answer was a potent one nonetheless. As “Dear White People” creator Justin Simien observed in his own analysis, Glover’s music video tells a history of black oppression in America (from Jim Crow to police brutality) and depicts America’s false promise of freedom. The idea of “This Is America” being an anthem for Fourth of July, a holiday celebrating America and its values, only makes the lyrics and video’s imagery more urgent.
Glover’s “This Is America” video has become a phenomenon with nearly 50 million views in its first four days.