This is America. Or so they tell us.
Donald Glover’s (aka Childish Gambino) new song “This is America” is catchy, and his music video is a visual story told well. Thing is, the message behind it is the same kind that I was already rolling my eyes about in 2004 when Green Day released a catchy song of their own in the form of “American Idiot.”
It’s the same kind of brush the left chooses when they want to critique the country that has given them the opportunities to do so much. Green Day bashes on America all the time, all the while forgetting that this is the country where they were free to make songs about masturbation and call their album “Dookie.” From there they toured from state to state winning the hearts and minds of listeners, be it on the radio or in concert, many of who bought merch and albums because they or their parents could afford to do that thanks to jobs and careers. Corporations helped flood every working speaker with their songs, print their albums, and put them on the shelves for sale.
But despite all these cogs turning, and all the people working to make a common phenomenon happen, the very country that made all this possible is stupid, corrupt, and not worth respecting. A festering hellhole of suburban consumerism. Not just some parts of it, which would be absolutely accurate to say, but all of it. Green Day believes we’re first world idiots.
Perhaps Glover doesn’t have the same suburban prejudices as Billy Joe Armstrong, the primary writer for Green Day’s music, but the brush strokes look awfully familiar.
“This is America,” says Glover, whose video displays a culture of people shooting others as the black population dances around chaos and police brutality. The video is, admittedly, a masterpiece of storytelling — I’m a sucker for hidden messages and symbolism — but the story is told by someone looking at America through the wrong end of the telescope, much in the same way Green Day did. It’s a shallow interpretation that takes America’s problems and paints them as the thing that makes up America as a whole.
Glover essentially gives us the same leftist rundown that we’ve seen from the left so often. America has a gun problem, it’s plagued with racism, consumerism is a distraction from the real problem, police are the bad guys, etc, etc.
America does not have a gun problem, but it does have an ignorance problem that is fomenting misuse, misplacement, and misappropriation. When viewing numbers of gun violence, many stop at the initial numbers but don’t attempt to view time, place, reasons, etc. They take the blue pill, shout about those damn guns, and go home. However, one swallow of the red pill leads you down an entire rabbit hole of statistics which opens up questions very few people want to ask. You find out very quickly, however, that it’s not guns that are the problem, it’s our own ignorance.
In the same way, America doesn’t have a police problem. Rest assured, there are problem police officers, but I more often than not see them punished for their misuse of authority. The fact is that the vast majority of police are good guys who put on badges and deal with the problems you and I don’t want to. As the son of a police officer, I’ve watched as my dad and his fellow officers dealt with 1 percent of the population 99 percent of the time — and elements within that 1 percent they dealt with would horrify people. What’s more, they did so with a steady hand and professionalism that many wouldn’t have been able to muster in that same situation.
I could go on, but the point is that Glover, like Green Day and many leftists surrounding him, is taking a very shallow look at America. They promote this idea of a horrid country that we should look at with disdain. This country has its problems. That much is undeniable. But to say that this IS the country is like saying your loving and loyal canine companion is nothing but teeth and claws.
It’s the same kind of pessimism that gives birth to angry solution-making in the form of the social justice community. It’s the same kind of pessimism that creates the American nihilist that views the comforts and advances of America as somehow sinful. It creates the anti-Capitalist, and the communist who angrily shake their fists at the American miracle as they live in a society they feel guilty and depressed for enjoying.
Don’t take my meaning as saying we should never talk about America’s problems. This is a definite must. In Glover’s case, “This is America” is seemingly a commentary on the black community’s troubles within the country. It’s a fair subject to cover. However, the pessimistic brush has to be put down if we’re to really problem solve for this or any community. Glover’s portrayal of America is NOT America. America is life and growth. It is a land of major civil rights advances spanning different races, creeds, and sexes. It is a nation that problem solves.