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Ambiguous anthem

Arts | ‘This Is America’ has made an impression, but of what?
by Fiona Morgan
Posted 6/08/18, 01:52 pm

Every summer has its signature pop anthem, but this year’s comes with sensational and disturbing visuals, too. The video for “This Is America” by Childish Gambino debuted online in early May, and viewers have watched it more than 250 million times. 

It opens with Donald Glover, who performs as Childish Bambino, shooting a man seated in a chair. He then goes on to dance happily with schoolchildren. Later he picks up a rifle and opens fire on a choir, then goes on dancing while violence breaks out around him.

“The central message is about guns and violence in America and the fact that we deal with them and consume them as part of entertainment on one hand, and on the other hand, is a part of our national conversation,” Guthrie Ramsey, a music history professor at University of Pennsylvania, told Time.

Ramsey also suggests that the dancers represent how entertainment distracts people from real problems in America. The gunned-down choir could be a reference to the 2015 Charleston shooting, in which a white supremacist, Dylann Roof, killed nine African-Americans in a church basement.

Some are appalled at “This Is America.” Others call it a work of art. But Glover does not have much to say about it.

When TMZ asked him about the meaning of the video, he said, “That’s not for me to say.” 

Glover also said, in jest, to a reporter at the 2018 Met Gala, “I just wanted to make a good song, something you can sing on the Fourth of July.”

Associated Press/Photo by Bebeto Matthews Associated Press/Photo by Bebeto Matthews Kate Spade in 2004

Tragic loss

Kate Spade, designer of popular purses and colorful apparel, died this week of an apparent suicide. She was 55. The Kansas City, Mo., native put function before form and fun before trend. She launched her company in 1993 after leaving her job as an accessories editor at Mademoiselle magazine. She started with six shapes of handbags she said every working woman should have and from there grew into a global brand known for accessibility and affordability. Upon news of her death, celebrities recounted memories of their first Spade bags on Twitter. “My grandmother gave me my first Kate Spade bag when I was in college,” Chelsea Clinton wrote. “I still have it.” Jenna Bush Hager wrote. “I will never forget the first Kate Spade bag I got for Christmas in college.” —Lynde Langdon

Associated Press/Photo by Peter Dejong Associated Press/Photo by Peter Dejong Jan Six takes a selfie in front of a Rembrandt painting he discovered.

Hidden value

Amsterdam art dealer Jan Six thought the painting he bought at a 2016 London auction for $189,000 might be worth more than its relatively modest price. Now art historians agree Dutch master Rembrandt van Rijn actually painted the portrait. The Hermitage Amsterdam museum said the painting, depicting a young man in a black cape and lace collar, is the first unknown Rembrandt to surface in 44 years. “There’s one fantastic flap of lace and there’s one curved edge and it’s so fantastic—it’s such a depiction of space—that you really want to put your finger on it,” Six said. “And the ability to get there to that end result, in my view and in many other experts’ views, only Rembrandt ever reached that level.” Six plans to sell the painting when the Hermitage Amsterdam finishes displaying it. —L.L.

Covering up

The Miss America pageant announced this week plans to drop the swimsuit and evening gown portions of the competition and stop judging contestants on their looks. Conservative commentator Gretchen Carlson, one of the unsung heroes of the #MeToo movement, championed the change as the new head of the organization’s board of trustees. “We’re not going to judge you on your appearance because we are interested in what makes you you,” Carlson, a former Miss America, said Tuesday on ABC’s Good Morning America. L.L.

Fiona Morgan

Fiona is a graduate of the World Journalism Institute college course.

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  • Bonnie Jean
    Posted: Fri, 06/08/2018 05:24 pm

    I just might start watching MIss America again. Maybe contestants will get to give 5 minute speeches on how they are already making this world a better place, or what organizations they will support financially, and why, with their earnings if they win.

  • Ed Schick
    Posted: Sat, 06/09/2018 03:13 am

    Of what value is the video “This Is America” by Childish Gambino? Why does WORLD report on this and increase the fame of this man and his worthless video? He doesn't even stand by it or its value.

  • brightnsalty
    Posted: Sat, 06/09/2018 07:44 pm

    The point of the video is to raise questions about American life that are hot topics right now. The culture is listening, so World is faithfully reporting. I doubt that he doesn't stand by it - I think he wants to let the video speak for itself and get people to *gasp* think for themselves.