Childish Gambino's new music video "This Is America" has prompted lots of discussion since its release last Saturday, with fans and observers alike hungry for insight. Hiro Murai, director of the video, provided that on Thursday with an interview in The New York Times, discussing the video's creation and reception, as well as his work as a director on FX's Atlanta.
Both "This Is America" and the second season of Atlanta (Murai directed seven of the eleven episodes) have elements of fantasy, but Murai says they're not blind to the goings-on of real life. "There’s sort of a world-weariness in both this season and the music video," Murai said. "They’re both reactions to what’s happening in the world."
What the video boils down to, Murai explained, is "a really crazy confluence of tone changes — that’s the premise of the whole video and the song, in a way." The "harrowing" yet "cartoony" violence also plays a huge role: "There’s Looney Tunes logic in there somewhere. Obviously we’re dealing with very provocative images, so it’s a total tightrope walk."
Murai describes feeling "caught [sic] off-guard and by surprise" by the video's huge reception, though he feels very gratified by fans who commit themselves to unravelling the meaning in its references ("I kind of love it, to be honest.") That fits into the mandate Murai said he had going into the video's production: making something that will surprise "media savvy" viewers. "Even from the start, our big mandate was just surprising people and trying to deliver something that people don’t know that they want to see. "
Read the full interview at The New York Times.