‘This is America’ Director Hiro Murai Deserves a Ton of Credit


Donald Glover AKA “Childish Gambino” is on one of the great entertainment tears of all time. He’s not the quintessential “overnight success” Hollywood clichés, but in the several weeks his accomplishments have been almost unprecedented. Glover is a quintuple threat. He writes, acts, directs, he’s a musician and one hell of a dancer. Oh, and he’s a standup comedian? Not recently, but he has, and that’s probably the weakest facet of his talents – albeit, he’s certainly not bad at it.

When he landed the iconic role of Lando Calrissian in the upcoming “Solo: A Star Wars Story” he ordered a giant pizza and re-watched The Empire Strikes Back. And when he sat down with Billy Dee Williams – who originated the iconic role in the original trilogy – Glover had a slew of origin questions, to which Williams responded, “I don’t know, just be charming.” Glover’s discovery was to not over think it.

Glover is now a two-time Golden Globe winner for his hit show “Atlanta” on FX and recently headlined Saturday Night Live as both the host and the special music guest, Childish Gambino.

Glover is now a two-time Golden Globe winner

While one of his two songs was featured in that SNL episode, Glover, almost simultaneously with the show, came out with one of the most shocking music videos of this century, and maybe since Michael Jackson’s “Thriller,” called “This is America.” A music video that nearly broke the Internet, it was widely hailed as an undeniable masterpiece.

Extraordinary, controversial, beautiful and just flat-out brutal. Loaded with violent symbolism on gun violence and the consistent marginalization of African Americans in our society, what other title is more suited than “This is America”?

But Childish Gambino shouldn’t get all of the credit for the music video, some of its genius rightfully deserves to be shared with director Hiro Murai, who is known for this revolutionary piece and for also directing half of the episodes of “Atlanta.” The FX show is totally unique in its own right. Sometimes it portrays mundane everyday circumstances with hyperbole, while other times reverse engineering that same idea by normalizing extraordinary events. Intensely awkwardly violent episodes like “Teddy Perkins,” followed by absurdly hilarity in “Barbershop.” It’s quite possibly the most unpredictable show on Television. Although the esteemed Glover himself directed both of those episodes, Murai is completely unique with his own vision.

In “This is America” Murai’s fluid use of the camera is unlike anything you’ve ever seen before. His use of foreground and background is masterful in that sense that he’s fooling you into paying your undivided attention what he wants you to. While your fixated on Glover’s dance moves, the real chaos, or meaning, is what’s happening in the background and that’s the ultimate point of Murai’s direction and a statement on the American climate. While you’re busy paying too much attention to pop culture, there are real systemic issues in this country that you choose to ignore.

Murai also directed two fantastic episodes of the critically acclaimed new HBO show, Barry, starring Bill Hader as a hitman who suddenly becomes intrigued by the idea of becoming an actor. Murai is probably several years away from helming his own film, but when he gets that opportunity, it wouldn’t surprise if he was in line for a huge franchise like Star Wars because he really is that good at directing.

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Chad Allen is a Los Angeles resident with an extensive background in the entertainment industry as a production company executive and as a screenwriter. He is also the publisher and managing editor of Free Press Daily News.


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