The Voice

Mass Shootings and Music: Today’s America

NBC News

NBC News

Emily Joe, Humor Editor

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Musicians have always used their music as an outlet for their emotions, whether political or personal. As America continues to face unprecedented violence in mass shootings, various artists have chosen to express their feelings through their music. Trending and successful songs such as “This is America” by Childish Gambino and recently, “Big Love” by Black Eyed Peas have set a new standard in terms of sending a powerful message in which countless people analyze not only the meanings of the lyrics, but also the events and symbols within the music video.

Combined with the intriguing cinematography as well as the enumerable cultural and historical references, “This is America” by Childish Gambino will never be forgotten due to its ability to evoke emotion and pique interest unto its viewers. The music video calls to attention the issues of racism, mass shootings, and how people today tend to rationalize or look the other way in reaction to this news. As the music video starts, it begins to look like a normal, happy-looking video in which a musician plays the guitar while the singer dances. However, events take a sudden turn for the worse as the video reveals itself to be a series of tragic occurrences, based upon real-life events, in which several people are shot as chaos reigns in the background while dancing, oblivious students are at the focus of the camera. This unforgettable shift mirrors society today: perfectly normal people doing perfectly normal things until a violent and shocking tragedy occurs. People rage, blessings are given, and arguments are made. Then, they all, sooner or later, calm down and move on with their lives as time passes only to discover yet another tragic event on the news. With this in mind, analysts have come to the conclusion that the dancing students may be a representation of how children today cope with mass shootings with dances and parties.

Recently, the Black Eyed Peas released a single, “Big Love,” with the following disclaimer: “What you are about to see is hard to watch. But this is the point of the film. It should be hard to watch. But imagine having to live through it. No kid should have to live through what you are about to see.” Clearly, the Black Eyed Peas intended to put viewers in children’s shoes to communicate the fear and powerlessness students feel in traumatizing situations in which they essentially have no say in the issue. In the music video, the lyrics “All that we’re made of is big, big love” are mouthed by children. This conveys the point of view of students of those who want to do something about an issue that directly affects them, but don’t necessarily have the power to vote or are able to make a difference due to their age. Hence, all that students have is “big love” which refers to all the love they have for each other and the world around them. At the end of the video, the music group calls for students to register and vote in support of March For Our Lives.

Having the audacity to make decisions intended to shock and evoke viewers’ what through their music videos not only call to attention social issues in our society, but also force viewers to reevaluate their role in societal issues as well as what they can do to help or make a difference.

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Mass Shootings and Music: Today’s America