“Back when we were kids there wasn’t all this violence for the sake of a greater point,” says Ron Carpenter, a father of two teenagers. He is standing in front of a display of televisions at his local mall in Louisville, Kentucky, and they are showing Childish Gambino as he contorts, dances, and challenges his way into America’s homes, minds, and discourse.
“Used to be we just had good old-fashioned violence for the sake of violence. None of this ‘making you think’ shit.”
Fondly remembering how a person could happily watch a pig’s head spin on a spiked machine in a Nine Inch Nails video without really having to consider whether the right to bear arms is now more heavily weighted than the right to live; or the dichotomy of an increasingly connected society that is creating ever more insular, calloused people; or the profound cracks showing in the American dream, Carpenter says he finds the whole message thing “off-putting,” and “stinks of having an agenda.” And he’s not alone.
“I like my music videos exactly the way I like my politics,” says Linda Afflack, of Cincinnati, Ohio. “Generally just there for entertainment, but if it has to have a message it better be one that agrees with my pre-conceived notions.”
“Because if I wanted to be reminded that our nation is built on the scarred backs of unremedied violence well…” she trails off here for a moment and then nods emphatically to herself before continuing, “I just can’t think of a single time I’d want to be reminded of that.”