How the United States re-branded as "America"

NPR's Throughline had a great recent episode about what's essentially the branding of the American Empire. Host Rund Abdelfatah speaks with Daniel Immerwahr, a history professor at Northwestern University, who the changing ways that America has identified itself over the years.

I always found it kind of strange to say "America" (even though I do it), as it also refers to two entire continents. And I've similarly found it interesting when I hear Europeans refer to the country as "the States." But Immerwahr took things a step further, and traced the history of self-reference through American presidential speeches. Prior to 1898 — the time of our rarely-mentioned war with Spain, which saw American expansionism grow beyond the continental borders and into the Philippines, Guam, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, and Cuba and so on — it was rare to hear a President refer to the country as "America." It could be the Republic, or the Union, or the United States, sometimes even Columbia or Freedonia (like "land of the free people," yes that was apparently a real thing at one time).

Immerwahr smartly connects this to curiosity to the country's intrinsic relationship (and subsequent, neverending identity crises) with imperialism. We were founded on conquered land, and though we aspired to be a union of independent nation-states with open borders and shared currency, that never actually happened. The "free" people of the United States distinguished themselves from the black slaves who tilled their fields, and the various Native American nations with whom they sometimes shared the land. Read the rest

Artist is animating "This is America" with vintage Mac software

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In progress: Capturing Donald Glover dance in This Is America video. Using Macintosh SE computer, MacPaint software & MacroMind software. Currently: 375 frames.

A post shared by Pinot (@pinot) on Jul 4, 2018 at 4:18pm PDT

New York City animator and illustrator Wahyu Ichwandardi (aka @pinot) is currently animating Childish Gambino's "This is America" music video in MacPaint (software from 1984) and MacroMind VideoWorks (1985) on a Macintosh SE. On Thursday, he was 375 frames in. He's been sharing his progress on Twitter since June 9:

https://twitter.com/pinot/status/10099711558040084498 Read the rest

Childish Gambino's "This is America" set to "Call Me Maybe" walks a fine line

Last Saturday, Childish Gambino (aka Donald Glover) unleashed "This is America" on the world. In just this one week, the controversial video has already garnered over 95 million views and has ignited quite a conversation about it.

Now a YouTuber named LOTI has set the first part of the video to Carly Rae Jepsen's 2012 earworm "Call Me Maybe" and... it syncs up well, really well. See for yourself.

Believe me, I wanted to hate it but I can't, not completely. I saw the link in a friend's feed and immediately thought, "Too soon."

Early last week, I watched and re-watched the original video to see what it was all about, to really understand its message. Then, I read nearly every article written about it that I could find, including Cory's take on it.

He writes, in part:

The video is extraordinary on many levels: filled with subtle and overt references to gun violence, racism and inequality; beautifully directed by Hiro Murai; expressively choreographed and superbly danced by Glover and his collaborators.

The lyrics are likewise extraordinary, as is Glover's delivery, with long pauses and melodic breaks counterpointed with flat, chanted refrains.

But the truth is, and feel free to disagree with me, throwing some pop-fluff on top of something so serious not only brings some levity, but shines its original message even brighter. Or, are we trivializing it already, focusing only on the Glover's moves?

The line it walks is a fine one, for sure.

Childish Gambino's U.S. Read the rest