There is no point in asking what Glover intended the scene to mean.
If he intended to present an unambiguous narrative, he would have done so.
I do so in the hope that understanding the nuances of this scene will help us better understand the video as a whole.
If you happen to be one of the few who hasn't yet seen the video, you can find it below.
Rhetorical analysis may be applied to virtually any text or image—a speech, an essay, an advertisement, a poem, a photograph, a web page, even a bumper sticker. Corbett has observed, rhetorical analysis "is more interested in a literary work for what it does than for what it is." "[A] complete rhetorical analysis requires the researcher to move beyond identifying and labeling in that creating an inventory of the parts of a text represents only the starting point of the analyst's work.
When applied to a literary work, rhetorical analysis regards the work not as an aesthetic object but as an artistically structured instrument for communication. From the earliest examples of rhetorical analysis to the present, this analytical work has involved the analyst in interpreting the meaning of these textual components—both in isolation and in combination—for the person (or people) experiencing the text.Rhetorical analysis is a form of criticism or close reading that employs the principles of rhetoric to examine the interactions between a text, an author, and an audience.It's also called rhetorical criticism or pragmatic criticism.Other commentators (e.g., this NPR story, this Time article, this Atlantic piece) have generally focused on how the choir scene recalls the 2015 shooting in Charleston, South Carolina. Dylann Roof, a self-proclaimed white supremacist who was apparently radicalized by the shooting of Trayvon Martin and reports of so-called “black on white crime”, killed nine black people during a prayer service at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church. This part of the video, like the earlier portion, intended to juxtapose happy and positive aspects of African American culture (in this case the Black church) with the violence that surrounds and impacts the black community.Roof and other white supremacists may be part of this violence, but the threat is more pervasive and more insidious.If this seems a tad overdone, consider how common it still is for white Americans to assert that race isn't important and that we should all focus on our shared humanity, even as black men (and women) continue to experience disproportional access to education, health care and justice. In the church scene, just as in the earlier scenes, Glover is self-assured and brash.He kills multiple people (including the choir) and afterwards continues to dance and mug for the camera, seemingly without a care in the world. To me, it is all of the following: Again, I don't assume the above is definitive.offers a welcome reprieve from the most recent Kanye controversy, but Donald Glover's (the artist's real name) new song and video are themselves provocative, inspiring (requiring perhaps) multiple commentaries on their meaning.Rather than writing an analysis of the whole as others have done, I want to instead do a deeper dive into one small part: the scene with the choir.It's tempting to ask this question..then try to answer it, but I think it's the wrong question.As is always the case with ambiguous stimuli, what the viewer/reader thinks is happening has much more to do with their life experiences and beliefs than with the stimulus itself.