Glover’s Video Depicts Despondent America

Madeleine Singh, Sports Editor

Escapism is defined as “the tendency to seek distraction and relief from unpleasant realities, especially by seeking entertainment or engaging in fantasy.”

American culture chooses to ignore dire circumstances and instead turn its focus toward less important matters as a coping mechanism. This tendency is fueled by an obsession with pop culture and an unwillingness to acknowledge that access to guns must be limited. As a member of the generation of future policymakers, it is the responsibility of the student to inform himself regarding controversies that could have a direct impact on his life, rather than escape into popular culture.

Rap artist Donald Glover, under the pseudonym “Childish Gambino,” recently released his latest project, a 4-minute music video titled “This is America” that comments on controversial social and political issues our country has historically ignored. Glover’s video focuses on the issues of gun violence and racism in America, contrasting joyful dancing scenes with shocking gunfire and chaos. The video’s relevance has been disturbingly confirmed through recent events of gun violence.

Less than 2 weeks after the video’s release, a shooting occurred at Santa Fe High School in Texas that resulted in 10 deaths and another dozen injuries. News of the tragic event appeared on the morning of May 18 before being drowned out by coverage of the royal wedding between Prince Harry and actress Meghan Markle, along with the growing debate over a sound clip in which it is unclear whether the audio reads “Yanny” or “Laurel.” It is disheartening evidence of Glover’s assessment of American culture.

Americans distract themselves with insignificant matters in the face of dire situations. As a result, we are less likely to speak up about issues such as gun access. Obsessing over celebrities, new dances, and meaningless trends only serves to amplify our laziness in dealing with the issues that are plaguing our country. 

The White House staff took time to craft a video of its staff commenting on the Laurel versus Yanny debate, then posted it on Twitter, where it has received 38,ooo retweets and 9.7 million views and counting. The same account, @whitehouse, posted the video a day after Trump scantly addressed the Santa Fe shooting via a video with just 3,000 retweets and 424,000 views. Americans would rather interact with irrelevant content rather than expose themselves to the harsh realities of our country’s violence problem.

Trump’s administration has been effective in using Americans’ obsessions with pop culture to prevent any serious challenge to the status quo.  Gun laws remain lax.

Social media reactions to school shootings also reveal Americans who are more or less used to seeing coverage of such events. They offer hasty condolences and then move on with their trivial interests. A tweet or Instagram post expressing shallow grief is now considered satisfactory response to violent tragedy.

As the next generation of lawmakers and politicians, it is important that we familiarize ourselves with current controversies rather than let ourselves be preoccupied with popular trends. We cannot let ourselves live vicariously through the British Royal Family while there is such a need for reform in our own country.

Glover said in his music video, “We just wanna party.” However, if we allow ourselves to be distracted, our “partying” will eventually cease as we cross over America’s social and cultural tipping point. America’s tendency to turn a blind eye toward catastrophic events only reflects our despondency toward matters that we as citizens have a power to improve.