LEAP 1 -          THIS IS AMERICA

For my LEAP 1 assignment, I decided to look at a piece of propaganda that I stumbled upon on the Media Education Lab website. This propaganda is a song and music video called THIS IS AMERICA from an artist that I love and respect very much, Childish Gambino. I was immediately intrigued to learn more about it and analyze it further. 

 

Donald McKinley Glover Jr. (Childish Gambino) is an American actor, comedian, singer, writer, producer, director, rapper, and DJ that stars in this music video along with providing vocals. The organization that produced it did a great job of creating this work, with lots of help from Japanese-American filmmaker Hiro Murai, who frequently collaborates with Gambino. This propaganda was produced in a music related context, given the fact that it is a rap song that addresses much larger issues. 

 

The purpose of this song and music video was to target the massive issue of gun violence in the United States. Along with gun violence, this song and music video was created to further address the problem of the much too common racism and discrimination in our country. This was aimed to activate strong emotions through the use of his creative lyrics and blunt style of addressing larger issues in his music video. Along with these much larger important issues that are addressed in this piece of propaganda,  Donald Glover provides an interesting take on the newer generation of rappers today with many of them having short features on the track. The target audience for this propaganda would be United States citizens mainly, but this targets a much larger issues that takes place in many other countries as well. I was able to tie this project in with a lot of things that I learned about propaganda so far through the many readings and videos that we have looked at in this class. "In applied and commercial art, propaganda makes greater opportunities for the artist than ever before. This arises from the fact that mass production reaches an impasse when it competes on a price basis only. It must, therefore, in a large number of fields create a field of competition based on esthetic values." (Bernays: Propaganda, p.141). I found a quote while looking back at Edward Bernays’ classic work Propaganda that provided an interesting point regarding propaganda that I was able to apply to my analysis when looking at Childish Gambino’s song, THIS IS AMERICA.

 

This project involved many strong techniques to capture the attention of the viewers. Gambino and the filmmakers decided to use a very blunt way of getting their message across, especially with the scene that involves a mass shooting. The way that they shot this video was incredible and it really drew up lots of emotions for people that watched it. It was hard to watch at some points due to the violent nature of the music video, but I respect the stylistic point of view that Donald Glover offers through this project. 

 

The persuasive technique that was used in this propaganda was very clear, to activate emotion. This was able to be seen in the very beginning of the video when Glover starts singing and then proceeds to shoot the man with a bag on his head. Emotion is clearly evoked when you see the choir singing together and then he guns them down with an automatic rifle, to bluntly show how prevalent gun violence is in the United States. The style that Childish Gambino dances with through the video is used to draw in the viewers because it so different and interesting. His point of view on racism and gun violence is really unique and I think the way that he creates this narrative throughout the video is so interesting. The main values and points of view represented throughout this song in the lyrics, as well as in the music video are regarding racism towards African-Americans as well as towards the major gun violence issue in our country. 

 

I think that different people might interpret the message this is given off throughout this piece of propaganda quite differently. It can be interpreted as a violent rap song, mainly by older conservative people most likely, but if you can take away the stigma of rap music behind it, I think that this song and video accomplishes so much more and addresses such important issues that negatively impact our country, and have for a very long time. I believe that people who can look past the rap genre’s stigma could really find this propaganda beneficial due to its blunt nature of getting this hugely important point across in a way that captures your attention quickly. I can see how older generations may find this to be a harmful piece of propaganda due to the violence in it, as well as the “harmful” rap genre in some people’s eyes, but this really was created by Donald Glover to be something that opens the eyes of Americans. 

Sources:

Bernays, E. (n.d.). Propaganda. Retrieved from http://www.historyisaweapon.org/defcon1/bernprop.html

Glover, D. (2018, May 05). Childish Gambino - This Is America (Official Video). Retrieved February 20, 2019, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=244&v=VYOjWnS4cMY

This is America - Propaganda. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://propaganda.mediaeducationlab.com/rate/america

- Harrison G. Shrair

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