The video for Childish Gambino’s “This Is America” made Internet history by racking up an astounding 50 million views in its first days of release, earning praise for its jarring, disturbing visual juxtaposing the rapper — alter ego of actor Donald Glover — dancing and smiling while coldly gunning down innocent people (currently, the video has been been viewed more than 437 million time).
While reception to the video, meant to offer a damning critique on U.S. gun violence and the culture that perpetuates it, was largely positive, Glover admits he was initially worried that people would find it “pretentious.”
Speaking to GQ for a profile of Hiro Murai — who directed the video, in addition to Glover’s critically acclaimed FX series “Atlanta” — Glover says he had concerns about how the video might be greeted.
“There was a lot of room for it to be bad. Like: really, really bad. Like preachy bad. Over-reaching bad. Pretentious, racist-in-a-different-way bad,” Glover says of “This Is America.”
“You fall into a bad place when you try to preach and be a translator to people,” he adds. “I don’t think Hiro believes in translating. He believes the audience has integrity at the end of the day. He believes in a world where we’re supposed to make something brand new. And that’s where the magic lays.”
Murai agrees, telling GQ that he and Glover were definitely on the same page when it came to visualizing the video’s bold concept.
“It just felt like we were aiming at the same thing,” he says. “Donald was sort of intentionally doing things the wrong way, in a different way, and trying to make stuff that was the opposite of what people were expecting of him.”