“‘This Is America’ Has Been Colonized”
May 14th, 2018 – Canadian YouTube comedian Nicole Arbour has found herself in hot water after releasing the parody clip “This Is America: Women’s Edit,” a video she claims was inspired by the “best art” she’s seen in years. Just a week ago, Arbour, and millions of other people, watched the music video for Childish Gambino’s “This Is America” go viral within hours of its release.
Donald Glover, who uses the name Childish Gambino as his musical alter ego, received plenty of praise for his use of symbolism in the video to tackle issues of racism, police/gun violence, and the fleeting cultural response to problems facing marginalized people in our country. Critics, writers, and everyday music listeners poured over the four-minute video trying to find every hidden, and not-so-subtle, piece of imagery.
There are, of course, different interpretations about exactly what message Gambino was trying to convey in every scene. Some jokes have also popped up on Twitter highlighting how much people have read into the music video.
Donald Glover: hey
y’all: the H represents Harriett Tubman
— Richey (@richeymusic) May 13, 2018
Throughout the video, though, it’s obvious that intention was sewn into the details. From Gambino’s pants, dance moves, and facial expressions to how carefully the guns were handled, there was a rhyme and a reason. Arbour’s video, on the other hand, did have some rhyming but according to a lot of people not much reason.
The Root covered the remix with an article titled “Childish Gambino’s ‘This Is America’ Has Been Colonized,” where Yesha Callahan noted that one commentator called out how Arbour missed the mark on subtlety.
“‘This is America’ was special because of its subtlety, and how much thought was put into each part. This video removes all of that to just be a loud declarative statement about something that has little to do with the original, yet somehow they decided the same backdrop that represents a prison, and tried to replicate the South African cultural dance moves that were used for a video about women’s rights.”
Arbour attempts to address women’s issues such as equal pay, date rape, objectification while mimicking Gambino’s set, music and dancing. She opens the song with the lyrics “We just wanna be pretty, pretty that’s the goal, we just wanna smile, get a mammy home,” and adds in “Look how I’m spitting truth out, I’m so trendy, I wear Fendi, I’m so sexy, Imma get it, watch me move, these my titties, that’s my tool” somewhere in the middle.
People on Twitter were quick to point out the lack of understanding and empathy on Arbour’s part while also pointing out that giving her attention is exactly what she wanted.
Nicole Arbour’s “This is America” parody is proof white people think black pain & oppression is funny. They’re constantly joking about things they dont experience because they lack empathy. They laugh at our pain & deny our oppression, while stealin our culture for money. #Evil
— Wokeness ‘Blerd’ Everdeen (@AnimeOtaku1723) May 13, 2018
Nicole- stop. This mortifying beyond recognition. I am so ashamed that you are a woman from Canada. I hate that you still have followers despite your consistent lack of humanity and tone deafness in the name of “comedy”. GO DANCE ON A ROOF. https://t.co/715baRRo1S
— Ingrid Haas (@ihaas) May 14, 2018
Me calling the police on Nicole Arbour for abusing my eyes and ears with that underseasoned Kirkland brand ass “This is America” travesty she made. White woman have so much in this world, yet somehow shame isn’t one of them. Y’all have to chill. Get y’all girl. pic.twitter.com/4F6IaqLAsp
— Dewayne “Not Dwayne” Perkins (@DewaynePerkins) May 13, 2018
Yea… I just think the best thing to do is leave it alone. This girl is always doing outrageous and intentionally offensive shit for views. Trivializing not just a very important and meaningful piece of art but a whole marginalized group is a real kick in the crotch though huh?
— Jonah Green (@JonahGreen) May 14, 2018
The thing is though, we’re talking about it, which is what she wants. She, just like the Alex Jones’ and Milo Yiannopoulos’ of the world, thrives off of shock value and attention. Only way to fight stuff like this is to ignore and continue promoting the genuine messages & art
— Jonah Green (@JonahGreen) May 14, 2018
I’m not going to share @NicoleArbour ‘s bullshit “parody” of This Is America because I don’t want her to, once again, make money off of the outrage clicks of the marginalized populations she loves to mock.
We can let her know she’s a shitty person without helping her monetize it
— Ijeoma Oluo (@IjeomaOluo) May 13, 2018
Gambino’s “This Is America” debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100, and the music video has currently been viewed over 114 million times on YouTube. Arbour’s version has over 750,000, but her Twitter reply ratio had grown so high that she released a lengthy statement Monday night clarifying her intent.
— Nicole Arbour (@NicoleArbour) May 15, 2018