This Is (A Trio Of) America(n-made Honda Accords)

If you went to Starbucks this morning, chances are that the gender-studies major who made your unicorn frappo-whatever has very strong opinions about Donald “Childish Gambino” Glover’s new video, titled This Is America and seen above.

Warning: It’s not necessarily safe for work.

I’m probably too old, too classically-educated, and too, er, “privileged” to be permitted an opinion on the video itself. It’s deliberately ambiguous in virtually all of its most controversial aspects. Much ink has been spilled on the “Jim Crow” pose struck by Glover before he shoots the hooded figure, but the hooded figure is an older Black musician. So is he saying that playing an acoustic guitar is the act of an Uncle Tom, or is he suggesting that the violence-suffused rap music of the modern era, which by and large replaced the blues and conventional R&B within the black community, is nothing but blackface stupidity?

Furthermore, the motif of police violence is omnipresent throughout the video. There’s no statistical backing for the media hysteria regarding “racist police killers”, but nobody seems to want to be the first to admit it. I’m reminded of the scene in The Wire where Slim Charles says, “If it’s a lie, then we fight on that lie.”. The problem is that there are a great many people in America who seem to want to fight on that lie. More pertinently, they want other people to fight on that lie while they collect their checks from the major media corporations and from George Soros. It’s a brilliant racket, earning rapper-style money stirring up racial hatred in the pages of the mainstream press while you buy, then try to flip, a $2.1 million townhouse.

Okay, let’s put all of that aside and talk about the real issue in Glover’s video: the Accords.

Virtually all of the cars in this video are mint-condition, and virtually all of them are from the Eighties and early Nineties. In particular, there are three second-generation Accords, two sedans and one hatchback. It’s entirely possible that they were all made in Marysville; it depends on where they were originally sold and sourced. The conventional wisdom is that sedans tended to be Ohio-built and East Coast deliveries in general were Ohio-built. I can say that even in Ohio the vast majority of 2G hatches I’ve seen were built in Japan.

The Accord is one of two cars that appears more than once in the video. The other is the Toyota Corolla, but it’s represented by an Eighties liftback, a Nineties sedan, and a turn-of-the-century sedan. Only the Accords are unified by generation — and color! In the last few frames they are guarding the exit of the warehouse in sentinel fashion.

It cannot have been easy to source these cars. They rusted in the showroom and most of them were driven into the ground afterwards. I know where I can put my hands on everything from an Aventador to a left-hand-drive Esprit 2.2 right now but I couldn’t tell you where to find one ’83 Accord sedan, much less two of them and a hatch to boot.

Come to think of it, maybe that’s part of the message. The unholy matrimony of cars and rap has reached a level beyond parody. Before Meek Mill had a full-length album out, he was rapping:

When I bought the Rolls Royce they thought it was leased
Then I bought that new Ferrari – hater, rest in peace
Hater, rest in peace, rest in peace to the parking lot
Phantom so big, can’t even fit in the parking spot
Hold up, wait a minute, y’all thought I was finished?
When I bought that Aston Martin, y’all thought it was rented?
I’m the type to count a million cash then grind like I’m broke
That Lambo my new bitch, she don’t ride like my Ghost

At that point in Meek’s career, he couldn’t have paid for all those cars if he earned a dollar for each YouTube view. There’s similar stupidity at work in Lil’ Pump’s “Gucci Gang”, where he is depicted driving a Gallardo Spyder to his high school. It’s all flash and no substance. The only way to get anybody’s attention with a car in a rap video now is to… uh… put three Honda Accords in it. Maybe that’s the point. Or maybe Glover is just pointing out that the vast majority of us drive used cars. Some of us even drive used Accords. I know that I do. As for the “genius social message” of This Is America, I’m going to quote a rap video from before “Childish Gambino” was out of diapers: Don’t believe the hype.

41 Replies to “This Is (A Trio Of) America(n-made Honda Accords)”

  1. Aoletsgo

    Just a quick comment about Starbucks – since you led off with it. Last Saturday morning I stopped in my local Starbucks and it was Packed! There were thirty plus pissed off people standing around waiting for their sugary, creamy, iced whatever. I went straight to the counter ordered a “small” black coffee and was gone in 60 seconds.

    Reply
    • Ryan

      I used to be a devout Tim Horton’s double/double purchaser, until I moved to a town where Starbucks was the only place in town.

      Since then, it’s strictly a black cold brew for me. For some reason, I can’t stomach their “regular” coffee when it’s warm, but cold there’s nothing more refreshing IMO.

      Reply
      • silentsod

        If it’s really a cold brew and not an iced coffee then it’s a different process for brewing and it’s right in the name. Cold brew results in a less bitter and less earthy (read: dirt-like) taste. I sometimes make my own and you can use really cheap coffee to produce it; stuff which is ghastly when brewed normally.

        Reply
  2. Patrick King

    And to think, Jack, that I discovered your writing the day after David E. Davis, Jr. died. In addition to the expected hosannas my Google search turned up something… quite different: your take on DED’s passing. And I’ve been hooked ever since.
    .
    Whether it’s your recommendation of the C5 Z06 as a track-day bargain or the arcana of $3,000 speaker cables, I read every word you and your contibutors write on Riverside Green and elsewhere.
    .
    Plus, your incisive commentary on social blips such as this video serve as an ideal counterpoint to my high school buddy Larry’s nightly fulminating on MSNBC.
    .
    Great stuff, keep it up.

    Reply
  3. Ark-med

    “Find a good example [C4 L98] now and you might just benefit from the bizarre wave of Eighties nostalgia that is being rather cynically manufactured by various entities at the moment.”
    YOU’RE NOT HELPING!

    Reply
    • Ryan

      These are still cheap enough that I’ve considered picking one up as a “winter” beater. The hatch will hold a weekend’s worth of camping gear. Worst case, it would be easy enough to get your money back if bought right.

      I’m glad I’m not the only one who is annoyed by the “ironic” nostalgia for 80s/90s goods, especially when it comes to cars. Most people don’t seem to really appreciate these cars, only poke fun at how “terrible” they are compared to today’s cars.

      Reply
      • viper32cm

        Ditto on the C4 for me. There’s a nice looking facelift C4 for sale not too far away from my house that is very tempting. More cargo space than a NA Miata and a good starting point for a track car.

        I think Murilee Martin wrote an article 6 or 7 years ago extolling the virtues of late-1980s through 1990s fuel injected cars. They just work, are less complicated than the cars we generally saw beginning in the 2000s, and, with good fuel injection systems, are far easier to live with than carbureted cars from earlier in the 1980s and before. Goldilocks cars in a way.

        When I met my wife eight years ago she had a 1995 Honda Civic DX hatchback. She was initially incredulous at the praise I heaped on that little car, especially since I was driving an E90 BMW, but, after we got married and she bought a new car, I took over the Civic and made it my daily driver for about four years. We still have it, and it serves as my primary track car. I might even press it into daily service again this summer since fuel prices are beginning to go up.

        Reply
  4. John C.

    I wonder if Ta Neshia Coates will call this guy white for perpetuating white stereotypes of black lawlessness. At least he isn’t perpetuating the stereotype of blacks being musically talented.

    Reply
  5. Bigtruckseriesreview

    #1 This country has become a TOXIC ENVIRONMENT. The food, the Water, the political climate…probably worse than ever before – but moreso because we are reminded of it every single day by the 24/7 news beast.

    There is no “peace” here.

    #2 “Racist police killers” is a belief of some, mostly based on biased news media “if it bleeds – it leads” who focus on murders and killings – leaving a shadow of a doubt as to the police’ motives and legitimacy.

    THE ONLY THING THAT HAS CHANGED is the fact that the AVERAGE person is walking around with an HD CAMCORDER in their pocket.

    I can shoot a feature-length film…in 4K…on my cellphone.

    When people see cops interacting with people they are compelled to start recording and 9 times out of 10, force is used against them.

    I used to watch COPS all throughout the 90’s up until about 2007. I may have seen just 2 police shootings. Thanks to iPhone, Youtube and UNCENSORED, UNRESTRICTED ACCESS to the internet, I have watched more unarmed people get gunned down by police than I ever imagined possible.

    I’ve watched armed and threatening people get gunned down.

    I’ve watched homeless/ mentally ill people get gunned down.

    I’ve watched unarmed people beaten and abused.

    I’ve witnessed police bullying in real life.

    Although the statistics show that more than 50% White, 27% Black and 17 % hispanic have been killed by police in 2016… there is a shadow of doubt in my mind as to whether the shootings were justified…whether they were against unarmed citizens…

    Bob Marley’s female relatives were just accosted by police at an Air BNB that they had legal access to…surrounded by 7 cop cars and a POLICE HELICOPTER.

    NO ONE can tell me that this is normal or that it’s not happening.

    I have lived in other countries. The world’s opinion of America is that it’s a violent shithole where the cops shoot unarmed people.

    It doesn’t help that you have people allowed to die from lead water.

    It doesn’t help when your own kids ARE MURDERING THEIR CLASSMATES almost semi-monthly.

    It doesn’t help that those video clips keep getting out.

    Reply
    • Rock36

      The world’s opinion of America…

      You had me until then.

      Someone who has lived outside of North America for anytime that could legitimately qualify as “living” wouldn’t pretend to know the world’s opinion about anything or anywhere.

      It’s tourists and people who spend a few months, maybe even a year or two, somewhere that seem to go back pretending they are suddenly worldly and understand it.

      Reply
    • Ronnie Schreiber

      It doesn’t help that you have people allowed to die from lead water.

      If that’s a reference to Flint, Michigan, nobody died there from lead in the water. There were deaths due to Legionaire’s Disease, and elevated lead levels were detected in the blood of Flint residents, but nobody died from lead poisoning.

      Recent test results show that Flint residents’ exposure to lead is now well below the state average. Kids in Detroit and some rural counties have much higher lead levels than those in Flint. The primary route by which kids get exposed to lead is by eating dirt contaminated with old paint. Paint flakes off the exterior of houses and ends up in the soil. Detroit and those old towns have a lot of legacy housing stock.

      BTW, no American city even makes it to the top 10 in terms of the most dangerous cities in the world. Long term trends for all kinds of violent crimes say that crime is declining in America, including those that involve guns.

      Reply
  6. E. Bryant

    I’m not going to even attempt any serious analysis of the video being discussed, other than to comment that it doesn’t seem quite as ground-breaking as, say, Public Enemy’s “By The Time I Get To Arizona” did back in the early 90s.

    What is fascinating – much more so than Donald Glover’s dancing or chest hair – is exactly what Jack pointed out by commenting on the difficulty of finding the vehicles used in this work. Clearly, nothing was left to random chance in a video such as this, and even if it was, it wouldn’t have resulted in three very rare cars appearing in the same place at the same time. It’d have been much more likely to see a Ferrari 250 GTO, a Shelby Daytona Coupe, and a Porsche 959 pop up at the same time, because I can easily imagine a scenario in which a director asks for “a few fancy classic cars, and make ’em look really fast and expensive”, and someone manages to find that trio in the garage of some rich dingus. “Yeah, Leno just had these parked outside while his floors were getting scrubbed by sometime with a toothbrush. Said bring ’em back whenever we’re done.”

    If the director just wanted to use some cheap iron as a counterpoint to the usual hip-hop excess, then I imagine we’d see a few filthy example of the Taurus and Lumina and Concord. Scratch that last one; I never see LH cars on the road anymore. It’d be much more likely to find a G-/H-body Buick FWD barge. If one wanted to be a bit more diverse, throw in an early aughts Lexus ES, or a first-gen Tundra midsize.

    So, there is a deliberate message being sent by using those exact cars, and someone went through maybe as much hassle as it takes to find cars for Amazon’s “The Man In The High Castle”. Fascinating, but for the life of me, I cannot fathom what that message might be. Are we supposed to marvel at the ability of the Japanese to specify every component to perfection, and yet still not understand the impact of ordinary sodium chloride on insufficiently-galvanized sheet metal? (“This Is America”, he muttered as washing the salty grime off his two-year-old Accord, which was already showing signs of rust on the rockers and rear wheel arches.) Hell if I know.

    The Atlantic and The Ringer and every other half-baked quasi-deep-thinking mildly-leftist content generator has been largely useless in helping me through this social event. As usual, Jack is one of the few generating fresh perspectives, and for that I am deeply appreciative.

    As a side note, I’m a bit disappointed that this video has allowed the media to so quickly ignore Kanye’s rather interesting political transformation (whether it be a stunt or genuine).

    Reply
    • Eric H

      I spent a month and a half in Sapporo centered on February, there was a foot of snow on the ground, the roads were all packed snow.
      I didn’t see a car with a dent, scrape or damage of any kind. I didn’t see a single accident or fender bender. All the cars were clean, it was totally weird.
      I think the Japanese not understanding road salt is not a correct interpretation. I think it’s more along the lines of “Why wouldn’t you clean the salt off each and every day if you know it will rust your car?”

      Reply
      • fvfvsix

        Completely off topic – but your post made me think that this is why every Japanese cooking knife worth its salt is made of some very rust-able steels.

        As for the vid and the song – I’m still trying to process what I just saw. I’m a fan of DG’s work on “Atlanta”, as he manages to completely nail the cultural feel of growing up in GA while exploring some crazy subject matter), this song and video really do reek of “industry influence”. I can’t help thinking “I grew up in the same place as this kid did, and in arguably worse cultural times – but his America ain’t mine”. I don’t think Outkast would’ve done such a song, and I really have a hard time believing Donald Glover truly feels this way either.

        We now live in a time where Hip Hop has proven itself to be completely useful in programming young white kids into believing people they don’t see every day are living in “shithole” conditions, which makes me skeptical of any new-ish Hip Hop song with a “message”. I will admit to not really enjoying his music, but I’m going to call BS on the authenticity of “socially conscious” Donald Glover.

        Like Jack indicated – nothing in this video was left to chance… not even its message and timing. Everybody else sees “buck dancing”, I see “puppet”.

        Reply
  7. Disinterested-Observer

    The comment on the progress/regress of the cars reminded me of something I got a kick out of. In 1989 Vanilla Ice was bragging about rolling, in his 5.0 with the top down, so his hair can blow. By 2006 Fergie was reminiscing about how she was once so poor that she had to drive a Mustang, also a convertible according to the wiki description of the video that I have no intention of actually watching.

    Reply
  8. hank chinaski

    Jeez, brah, if you’re gonna go shirtless….do you even lift?!

    A buddy had a cease fire C4, and z51 too if memory serves. The removable glass top (T or targa, don’t recall) cracked just driving on the local roads. One of the headlight actuators went out too.

    Reply
    • Jack BaruthJack Baruth Post author

      The Last Psychiatrist would disagree: “If you’re watching it, it’s for you.”

      Any idea what the message is, or whom it’s for?

      Reply
      • dave

        It’s really not that difficult. It’s a disheveled black man in the midst of chaos, dealing with violence, running from the police, and surrounded by junk cars, yet he’s saying I’m so Gucci/I’m so pretty, etc. It’s the absurd superficiality of ‘getting the bag’ juxtaposed with the reality in which we live. We meaning the vast majority of black people. You’re neither black nor lower middle class so the message is not for you

        Reply
    • fvfvsix

      dave – that’s where I think you’re wrong. Most Hip Hop music that makes the news or the airwaves is for Black people (lower middle class or otherwise) anymore.

      J. Cole’s “K.O.D” is for the audience you’re thinking of. Unfortunately, most of us will never get that.

      Donald Glover is a rising star, rapidly becoming the Industry’s “next big thing”. The reason this song is making a stir in so many circles is intentional. Don’t fall for that.

      All I gotta say is that he’d better avoid hot tubs if he starts to regret the choices that have brought him to stardom.

      Reply
  9. -Nate

    Interesting video .

    As usual, I have no sound so just watching the people and things is fascinating .

    -Nate

    Reply
  10. ComfortablyNumb

    What’s with the AK in the scene with the choir? I would expect that anyone with this much attention to detail would have known to use an AR in their videos denigrating America.

    Reply
    • Jack BaruthJack Baruth Post author

      I have a lot of answers to this that I think are hilarious but which would result in my losing my job…

      Reply
      • S

        You have a job? I’m always wondering how you make a living… glad for all you do (enjoy the writing) but never quite figure out how you do it.

        Reply
        • Jack BaruthJack Baruth Post author

          Sadly yes. I work 60-70 hours a week in general, including writing but not including the stuff I do to keep the RTF Racing team up and running.

          Reply
  11. -Nate

    I’m in South central L.A. and I hardly see AR’s but AK’s are here in droves .

    I don’t know if this was an Easy or West Coast video, maybe that makes a difference .

    Clearly the message wasn’t for me .

    -Nate

    Reply
  12. manfromlox

    Where are my two favorite bigots on this post? I needed a good facepalm.

    The first 1:40 is a single shot which is impressive regardless of the number of takes it took to get it right.

    Lots of Klockau approved metal in there as well.

    Didja see the horse? The kid spiriting the guns away? The stuff in your face isn’t always the lede.

    Reply
    • Jack BaruthJack Baruth Post author

      Actually the media won’t shut up about the horse which is funny because there was an underground conspiracy book many years ago with the same biblical image

      Reply
  13. CJinSD

    Black guy shoots black people. No, there won’t be any film at eleven. Can anyone identify the pickup truck shown around 3:25 in the center background?

    Reply
  14. rpn453

    I don’t care for the music, and I don’t care about the video, but I did enjoy the first season of Atlanta with that guy. I see I missed the second. I’ll have to find it.

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.