The implication is that the brutal violence and general mayhem is no different than daily life in the US, where guns, entrenched racism and police brutality against black Americans dominate the headlines. Gambino goes on to kill a gospel choir in a moment evoking the 2015 Charleston massacre, in which nine people died during a prayer service at one the country’s oldest black churches. The guns are handled with great care, being wrapped in red cloth some believe symbolizes red-state second-amendment reverence. Meanwhile, limp bodies are casually pulled out of the frame.
Such reiteration of tragically common violence has for some been unsettling. “Over the past few years we’ve seen so many young African Americans killed, and it’s been recorded and retransmitted over and over for our consumption,” says Blair Kelley, a history professor at North Carolina State University. “Usually the argument made is that transparency will bring us closer to justice, but we’ve found that it hasn’t. So when I saw Glover re-enacting [such killing], I don’t know what the purpose is. I don’t know who was supposed to see that and feel reminded or called to enact justice, because I don’t know that the real killings we’ve seen have brought us closer to justice.”