Greg Ohrel directs a hugely powerful promo for Puerto Rican rapper Residente's This Is Not America, taking aim at police brutality, corporate greed and the effects of US cultural hegemony - and acting as both sequel and critique of the seminal video for Childish Gambino's This Is America. Remarkably poignant, the heartwrenching concept is unflinching in its display of brutal injuries, destruction of land and the forced separation of families, and cleverly parallels opposing ideas through match cuts and split screen effects. An undercurrent of anger is palpable throughout the video, and the portrait-style vignettes interspersed throughout act as a reminder of the people and communities these issues are affecting, whilst also acting as a statement that the victims refuse to be oppressed.Many of the scenes in the video are based on real political events that are well known in Latin America, but not so much elsewhere - including when Puerto Rican independence fighter Lolita Lebrón shot live rounds into the air inside the US Capitol Building in 1954, in protest to violence inflicted the US government on Puerto Rico (including bombing); and (in the video's most horrifying scene) the assassination of Chilean folk singer Victor Jara, killed for singing songs against General Pinochet's US-backed military coup while imprisoned in Estadio Chile in 1973. Like This Is America, the video was produced by Jason Cole and Danielle Hinde at Doomsday Entertainment. And like Donald Glover and Hiro Murai's polemic about the reality of violence and fear in Black people's lives in the US, this video is also attracting serious debate and commentary, in a growing number of YouTube reaction videos, and other, more scholarly articles.Comparisons are inevitable, but Residente's This Is Not America differs from This Is America in being essentially more politically-based: the rapper's focus is upon the resilience of the oppressed, and their willingness to resist. A glimmer of hope amid the horror.Ultimately Ohrel's brilliant direction of a succession of gut-punchingly powerful scenes makes this one of the standout videos of the year so far - in fact, of the decade so far.
Rob Ulitski - 5 months ago