It may not be easy to watch, but fans can't seem to get enough of Childish Gambino's "This Is America."
As of Friday, the gritty and graphic music video had almost 75 million views on YouTube, making it already one of the most popular videos of the year.
There were almost 75 million views as of Friday
Director said he's been surprised by the response
According to YouTube, the video earned 12.9 million views in its first 24 hours, making it one of the 10 biggest music video debuts of the year.
It continued to earn massive views, reaching more than 30 million by the 48-hour mark.
Childish Gambino is the rap/R & B alter ego of actor Donald Glover.
Filled with symbolism and themes including gun violence in America, there is as much going on in the background as in the foreground, which features Gambino dancing, sometimes solo and sometimes with dancers outfitted as students.
Fans have been watching and rewatching "This Is America" as they try to interpret its meanings.
The video has inspired multiple thought pieces about gun control, race and the role of social media in the current society.
"Donald Glover's trap gospel "This Is America" is a piece of trickster art that soundly rebukes the natural DNA of the protest song and constructs it into a freakish chronicle of imprisoned torment," Jason Parham wrote for Wired. "In the dozen or so times I've watched the 4-minute video, which was released last Saturday and has already amassed 50 million views on YouTube, I kept thinking how much it reminded me of Kara Walker's grand Antebellum silhouettes, which juggle themes of the grotesque -- torture, death, slavery -- in one graceful sweep."
In a piece for The Guardian titled "Childish Gambino captures the grim surrealism of being black in America," Mitchell S. Jackson wrote, "Part of Glover's brilliance is his resistance to using his work to proselytize or offer advice on how to reconcile the America made of our disparate experiences within its borders."
"Instead, he invites his audience to examine both the fore and background of their lives, to pose questions," Jackson wrote.
Hiro Murai, who works with Glover on his FX series "Atlanta," directed the video and has signed a first look producing deal with FX Productions.
Murai told the New York Times there is overlap between the music video and the series, which Glover co-created and in which he stars.
"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."
The director said he has been shocked by the response to "This Is America," though he understands.
"I can also see why it's resonated with people," he said. "We're just trying to be as honest as possible with our feelings through the work and hope that it connects with people."
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