childish gambino by Isabella Weiner April 17, 2019
Following his headlining set at Coachella on April 12, Donald Glover aka Childish Gambino (though perhaps not for much longer, as he’s announced he’s retiring the persona at the height of his popularity) released a short film entitled Guava Island.
Directed by frequent collaborator Hiro Murai — Murai has directed many episodes of Glover’s acclaimed, surrealist show Atlanta, as well as Childish Gambino’s heart-stopping “This is America”– Glover portrays the film’s lead role, a musician named Deni Maroon.
Guava Island also stars Rihanna as his love interest, Kofi Novia, and Black Panther’s Leticia Wright.
In the short film, Deni tries to stage a huge music festival on the beautiful island run by a dictator named Red Cargo (Nonso Anozie), who forces the island’s inhabitants to work in a factory. The breezy movie is all about how music can create unity and connection in the face of tyranny.
Glover’s choice to release the film at Coachella– the highest grossing festival in the world— further emphasizes the power of the music festival. Even one populated by Instagram influencers trying to gain clout and peddle Revolve clothing.
Though the film features three new songs, “Die With You,” “Time,” and “Saturday,” shockingly, Rihanna doesn’t get the chance to sing– prolonging her musical drought. Rih, stop making Fenty beauty kits and get back to music! We need you. (Luckily, Ms. Fenty has promised her Army a new album in 2019.)
Most notably, Guava Island features a re-staging of “This is America,” which takes place in the film’s factory. The re-staging features some of the same dance moves, wide-eyed expression, gunshots, and Glover’s bare chest as the original video.
But having the characters sporting red jumpsuits, à la Jordan Peele’s Us, gives the video a new bite. And with the movie set outside the continental U.S., “This is America” can be seen here as an outsider’s critique of the world power and the evils of capitalism and imperialism.
Donc Guava Island donne encore plus de sens et un nouveau contexte à "This is America" presque un an après la sortie du morceau. ❤️ pic.twitter.com/5iGbLiW3UW
— Julien (@DukeofMars) April 13, 2019
But what does it mean to release a film that critiques capitalism, at a music festival that embodies its very heights? Perhaps the Coachella crowd was meant to see it for themselves.
Guava Island streamed on Amazon for free on April 13 until 9 p.m. and is now only available to Amazon Prime members. How ironic!