Is This America?

ChildishChet
Childish by badjonni flickr. Chet reproduced by Kristine flickr.

Have you seen Childish Gambino‘s ‘This is America‘ music video yet? It’s full of metaphors and works well as a piece of video art, as well as it does in a musical sense (if you are into that kind of thing  (mellow, funk or classical is more my vibe). But its  meaning is ambiguous, and may also have layers of meanings not accessible to the conscious mind at first viewing. Some good videos have been made which discuss possible meanings in the video. I thought you might like to have a look, if you have not already come across this song. Even if you have, it’s worth having another look with the analysis afterwards.

Decide for yourself; is it mainly a black/racism theme, a violence/gun theme, a gang theme, a mass-media culture/semiotics theme; maybe a political left/right theme, or all of the above, perhaps most, or what else? Part of the video’s power is that it doesn’t provide the answers for us. And that’s not a bad partial definition of art itself, which, as Picasso once said, tends to ‘elude investigation‘.

If you found your poor nerves jangled after all that tension and post-postmodern anxiety that is the staple emotional state involved in modern American culture, maybe I could suggest a soothing antidote. It’s more of a blue pill than a red one,  a musical biographical movie that features sadness, drugs and angst, along with the sublime trumpet playing of Chet Baker. And you won’t get lost in the plot.

Are you a classical nerd? Quick quiz, then. Name the following tune.