My husband came home last week and was casually noting how it seemed like everyone was talking about Donald Glover. I gave him a blank stare. You know, he tried, Childish Gambino. Blank stare with a bit of confusion. He graciously shook his head and simply said, "I think you've got your next topic." After some quick searching on "the google," it was clear this was the right topic. And, frankly, given the amazing stats on Donald's recent fame, my complete ignorance on the topic has lead to additional reflection on how insular we can become and how, even in the current era of information overload, very personalized and narrow our consumption of news and current events can be.
All that to say, here's what you need to know about Donald Glover. He is an actor, musician, writer, comedian, dj and director. When I first read the number of descriptors, I was skeptical and envisioning those Instagram-ers who have bios like "gardener, chef, designer, artist," leading you wonder if you have the wrong person (and, upon seeing the picture, judgmentally think, I didn't realize a wine and paint class makes you an artist). For Donald, all descriptors are necessary and an active part of what he does. His bio is long and unbelievably impressive, but I've boiled it down to two things I need to know right now: (1) This is America and (2) Atlanta.
Photo: IMdb https://www.imdb.com/name/nm2255973/
Before diving into This is America, one thing to note: Donald has two alter egos. One for his musical career - Childish Gambino - and one for his DJing - mcDJ. This is America is a single released by Childish Gambino on May 5, 2018 (okay, let's all take a breath and note that for this particular release, I am only 10 days behind - thank you blogging project!). As of a few minutes ago, This is America had over 119 million views on youtube, was the most viewed youtube video for each of the last 9 days, and debuted at number 1 on the US Billboard Hot 100. I.e., it's on track to join the likes of Thriller as best videos of all time. The video is shocking, provocative, and full of symbolism. I did a quick search of "what you need to know about This is America" that turned up a multitude of resources, articles and posts as viewers, critiques, journalist, etc. grappled with the layers of messages present in the video. The video, shocking viewers with its violence, confronts gun violence and racism head on. With the caveat that there are some graphic parts, I highly recommend that you watch it a few times and, like millions of Americans, try to parse out the layers of symbolism that Glover has infused in the song and video. It's a video we will be watching and talking about for many years.
In addition to writing and producing one of (maybe the) best videos of all time, Glover currently is also the producer, head writer, star, and sometimes director of the Golden Globe and Emmy winning tv series, Atlanta. In its second season on FX, Atlanta is a drama-comedy that follows the life of two cousins trying to make it in the Atlanta music scene. You can see live episodes on FX on Thursday nights or catch up on past episodes on YouTube, Amazon, Hulu, or Google Play. While I have not yet watched, after reading reviews, the shows extensive lists of awards, and watching the Season 1 Promo, it has officially become my number 1 pick for a summer show. (And, I will undoubtedly provide some updates once I become an official Atlanta follower this summer).
This is America and Atlanta by no means encapsulate Donald Glover, who seems to excel at whatever he takes on (and he has taken on a lot). But, they are two of his current and most successful ventures and are at least a starting place to become a follower of his artistic genius. I recommend digging into his full bio, but until then when you hear Donald Glover, Childish Gambino, or even mcDJ, you will be well beyond the confused stare.
*One quick logistical note: some friends noted that it would be helpful to get alerts for new posts - shocking that my technology skills are a bit subpar, I know. Perhaps equally shocking, I have figured out how to do this. You can now go to the subscribe button on my homepage or contact page to receive notifications. And, many thanks for reading!