Childish Gambino’s latest music video, This is America, has caught headlines and shot the song to #1 on Spotify. There are tons of hidden messages and symbols in the video. If you haven’t watched it yet, watch it here.
This is America has raised hard topics to address. One of the main themes in the video is of focus on all the wrong things. Gambino is dancing around the warehouse with school kids, while robberies and murders are happening in the background. He shoots people, but more care is given to the guns than to the victims. While he pauses to think about what’s going on at 2:50, the moment passes as he lifts a joint. As one commentator puts it, the viewers and Gambino choose distraction over action.
As in real life in the US, there’s chaos happening every day but the focus is not on fixing them. Instead, people chose to think about them briefly and go about their normal lives. One reason for this may be because of the US being self-oriented and individualistic. People chose not to go out of their way to address an issue if it doesn’t affect them directly. Sure, they can sympathize with the victims on a superficial level. But, there’s nothing compelling them to do anything about it.
For instance, someone who goes to the shooting range regularly as a hobby likely supports gun laws. They have a self-interest in maintaining their hobby. On the other hand, the family of a victim killed in a mass shooting obviously would likely be against gun laws. The difference is there are far more people in the US who have not been directly affected by violence from gun laws. Despite data that supports the betterment as a whole for gun restriction laws, Americans are more likely to act in their self-interest. Since we have majority rule, change is slow.
This mindset is what causes these issues to remain. The victims can’t solve these issues on their own. They require more widespread involvement that they can’t obtain when people don’t care. They also can’t be solved if no one’s actively thinking about issues, reflecting on them and thinking of how to fix them. Ignorance isn’t always bliss.
If you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem. Figure out who you are and take the time to figure out the legislation you support. Choose action over distraction. Inaction may be safer, but nothing will be accomplished.