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If you’re confused by what you saw up there, you’re not alone. It was uploaded two weeks ago to Community star Donald Glover’s YouTube page, under the name Clapping for the Wrong Reasons [internet version]. While its use of repetition and ambiguousness could indeed have made it a short film all on its own, a full “director’s cut” of the film was uploaded recently, and it pushes the randomness dials up to 11, but appears to be just a day in the life of Glover’s rap star alter ego Childish Gambino. He’s the one that gets credited, after all. Watch the full version below, and it should be said the film is pretty NSFW for its weed cameo as well as some foul language and vague nudity.
Though I’m not a huge fan of the disorganized lyrical flow of Childish Gambino, I’d much rather watch this chilled-out version of Glover over anything anyone did In Community’s fourth season. Directed by the visually gifted music video helmer Hiro Murai and written by Glover, Clapping… doesn’t put forth much of a narrative to grasp onto, and it moves from point A to B to C without necessarily tethering anything together, and that’s bound to confuse some people and put others off altogether. (Not to mention the people who don’t appreciate the younger generation of rap music to begin with.)
But to me at least, it works wonderfully as a stream of consciousness journey through the life of a musician making an album in a gigantic house filled with musicians like Chance the Rapper, Trinidad James, Flying Lotus and adult film star Abella Anderson. You’ll have also noticed the bizarre cameo where Boy Meets World’s Danielle Fishel has a cameo talking about a dream where she smoked while pregnant.
The only through-line the film has, if you don’t count Glover’s blank stare, is Anderson as a possible imaginary friend/muse/messenger. And even though the film has a hypnotic quality without her, Anderson’s brief appearances evoke mystery and extended reality. As well, the Connect Four game between Chance and Trinidad took me for a loop, as I couldn’t tell whether the differing number of game pieces from one moment to the next was a continuity error or something else altogether. Kudos to a film that can make me accept a possible error as logical canon.
If this was trying to be anything more than a heightened glimpse into someone else’s daily life in a really really gorgeous setting, my critical tongue might have been sharper. As it was, Clapping for the Wrong Reasons was a nice break from the “Save the World” drama that this summer's blockbusters have been full of. I hope that Glover’s upcoming music-centered FX series follows a similar path through unexplained absurdity. Like Louie, without all the Louis C.K.