Prompt Question: Genre’s affect on the meaning behind “This is America”

Does the difference in genre and:or medium affect how we understand the dancing and lyrical performances of the music video “This is America” versus how we understand it in the film Guava Island?  How? Or Why not? 

I wish to think through how the genre affects our understanding of the performances of “This is America” because while watching the performance in the movie Guava Island, my understanding of the song changed because it was performed within the context of the film. I would like us to think through what the context of both performances offer our understanding of the song and how Childish Gambino intended us to understand it.

The difference in genre affects how we understand the dancing and lyrical performances in the music video “This is America” because the two are presented within different contexts. First, the music video is Childish Gambino’s performance of the full song. Whereas, in Guava Island some lines of the song are omitted and the performance is half as long as the music video. Why did Gambino choose to omit those lines in Guava Island?

Secondly, Childish Gambino transfers to various settings within the performance of the music video to create the perception that he is in different locations. The performance of the song within the genre of film limits Gambino’s travel because his character remains in the Red’s Cargo factory. Additionally, there is a much larger number of props and extras used within the music video that adds meaning to the lyrics of the song, whereas the film is again limited to the Red’s Cargo factory and the workers are limited to their uniforms. When watching the performance in the film, I found that I had a stronger sense of understanding of the dancing because of the consistent setting of Guava Island. I was primed already to understand the dancing because of the context of the island’s culture. But then again, I also recognized the choreography during the film performance because I had seen it in the music video which was released one year before the movie. Ultimately, the contexts of the two performances may lead the audience to place different meanings behind the lyrics of the song.

What would the song’s effect have been if Guava Island had been released before the music video for “This is America”? Would there still be the same weight behind the music video that made it go viral and would people still resonate with it as strongly?

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