All modern work is like O’Conner’s.
The issue I take with the “interruption” from slumber is it assumes the great body of culture is asleep and is in need of a shake—but there is no such sleep occurring. Folks are wide awake. The “we just wanna party” is truly celebratory, it’s ritualistic, it’s older than fire. The confounding irony is that the awakened/modern mind —a mind aware that it has the potential to influence a future, and future self, it’s going to be responsible for— needs to be embraced, while simultaneously needing independence to be distinguishable and in the modern world this is happening less and less. Literally, minds are being shunned for differing in viewpoint from one another, the most natural thing the mind needs is being exercised from the very inclusion it necessitates. This is the ultimate irony: a paradox.
The interpretations from (albeit good, well written, and thoughtful) articles like these are too narrow. It doesn’t hit the irony of (out-)rage. Yes, while everyone gets worked up over what’s happening on their computer screen they’re missing/ignoring what happens on their streets. Yes, while folks dissect the devil in the details they are “distracted” from their own failings in an imperfect society. While folks get overwhelmed in the wilderness of pedantry they miss the lily of the valley just outside the tree line, or even more myopically, the mountain laurel next to their feet —one misses out on how the individual can blossom if one concerns oneself with being fit enough to beautify one’s immediate surroundings, and can extend far beyond ones personal reach (ever carried beauty you encountered with you and because of this that beauty spread?), the fecund breeze of inspiration can permeate far outside of what was once isolated in a psychological forest; it is a meaningful existence.
Thus enters The Misfit, the artist, the individual, who tries, and though may fail, has a meaningful, purposeful existence with justifiable actions (a horrific beauty which only O’Conner in her time could articulate). The Grandmother, part of a group of solipsists, cowardly in common-think, void of meaning contributes nothing: “Oh look at the little pickaninny... If I could paint, I’d paint that picture.” The author of this article is more lauding of Glover/Gambino which leaves the reader wondering — did I just ‘buy’ into more of the same thing this video is admonishing its viewers for?
The Misfit has purpose, doesn’t quite understand it, but has made exacting that purpose meaningful; however, in true grim O’Conner fashion, his exactness is a purposeful, meaningful revenge—which as Timothy Taylor put it “revenged is never as cathartic as [out-]rage encourages us to anticipate.”
Nietzsche once wrote, “I can say more in one sentence than most can’t say in an entire book.” Kendrick Lamar said more in one line than this entire video (and article) tries to convey: “I’m an Israelite, don’t call me black no mo’/ that word is only a color, it ain’t facts no mo’.”
I believe, with “This Is America”, Glover/Gambino is trying to make art out of propaganda, and in the end just makes more propaganda—and he knows this, hence the final shot of the video; he’s not outrunning a violent society hellbent on exacting it’s prejudice, he’s trying to outrun the pestilential propagandizing nature of groups metastasizing our culture. Look at the setting of the video, a garage, a place for storing like-things, where things may run, but still collect dust; the human garage. He’s trying to be the Phoenix rising, which is more than what most of pop-culture can truly claim. Being human is hard. Being an individual amongst groups is damn near impossible, but it’s a worthy, meaningful endeavor, especially if one doesn’t become a bitter, spiteful individual, and that’s the point made in “it’s no real pleasure in life.” Even The Misfit is isolated in his individuality amongst those who are along with him; individualism, much like tribalism, can reversely become claustrophobic, constraining, transmogrifying into misanthropy.
Suffer it you haven't missed the flower, I suppose the fine line between art and propaganda is the line between the flower and the image of the flower. How do you choose to carry that image, or better, how do you choose to let that image carry you?