It took approximately 24hrs for Childish Gambino to break the internet and to instantly propel himself into the greatest mc alive discussion. Forget the lack of “bars” but take a step back and marvel at the artistry of his piece. It’s not just the music or the message, he also included some powerful subliminal messaging using powerful psychological tools to his advantage. His respect for the art of music and for the art of scientific research should be highlighted and revered by all; however, 95% of people didn’t even realize it so…that’s a moot point.
Let me break it down for you.
In 2004 Dr. Christopher Chabris and Dr. Daniel Simons shared the Ig Nobel Prize in Psychology for an experiment that they developed called, “The Invisible gorilla.” Their experiment revealed that people who are focused on one thing can easily overlook something else.
Before I go into more details, check it out yourself and see if you are fooled…
To summarize this experiment, basically your attention is drawn to focus on a simple task, then another obscene object of focus is shown directly in front of your eyes; however, due to your attention being placed primarily on the first task you never even realize the secondary object. How the children circle Childish Gambino in dance, is a direct tie to the invisible gorilla experiment, in style and execution.
Another illusion, based in psychology that Donald Glover uses is the “color changing card trick.” I would say that it is derivative of the same psychology fundamental mentioned above. In the first frame he shows a man playing a guitar, then he has you focus on him (Gambino) for a few seconds then the screen returns to the guitar man. This all fine; however, the original guitar man is not the same individual. The newly shown individual has a distinct arm tattoo and is slightly fairer complexion. Shortly after, Donald says…”This is America…” and I think that sets up the premise of his artistic display perfectly. Donald is clearly saying that America and his art is all about deception and misdirection. These are two very powerful tools used in media to highlight and hide topics of interest and to subsequently persuade public opinions. His next line sounds like a clear challenge to his viewers to “[not get caught slipping]” or falling for the deception that he about to present to them.
In constant barrage fashion, Donald Glover uses different iterations of the same invisible gorilla concept. If you are enamored by the marvelous dancing display of Gambino and the children, then you are certain to miss the random white horse blazing across the screen (I sure missed it the first time), the man jumping from the top floor, and the kid making it rain on a car.
Pause…hold up…did I just say white horse…yes I did. In biblical context, the book of revelations speaks of the oncoming apocalypse and the arrival of four horsemen to symbolize the event onset. The first horse was white and its mission was to lead for conquest of the world. In my opinion, the white horse that most people are sure to miss on the first pass of watching the video, is Donald Glover’s way to “flex” his psychology muscle by basically saying, “I can get anything pass you (catch you slipping).” For the most part he is right and it really makes you think, what else is mass media sneaking past our subconscious minds…hmmm.
“This is America” gives its viewers a clear choice to make: 1. Party and have a good time with the dancing gang or; 2. Be present in the harsh realities of society. He proves to you earlier that your human psychological limitations do not allow you to do both.
Which do you choose?