Six days ago, Donald Glover hosted Saturday Night Live, performing two new songs as Childish Gambino and the video to one of those songs, “This Is America”, has been the most-watched and most-talked about four minutes of pop culture this week as people break down all the hidden references and debate its message. Then he went to the Met Gala and delivered another message about the Catholic Church on the back of his suit jacket.
That was three days ago. Last night Donald was at the Solo: A Star Wars Story premiere and you know what’s amazing about this? What’s amazing is that it’s Star Wars, and it’s so easy to get overwhelmed by the Star Wars machine. To get lost in the Star Wars machine, seen simply as a component of that massive machine, without a spotlight of your own. This did not happen to Donald Glover. Of course Donald Glover gamed it so that the bonus was all his.
Because on the same night that Solo was red carpeting in Hollywood, generating reassuringly positive early reaction, and special shout-outs about Donald’s performance as Lando Calrissian, it was also the season two finale of Atlanta. When season one of Atlanta was over, many called it the best comedy on television. Season two has arguably matched that if not exceeded it. And all this was timed to converge this week – not to the Star Wars advantage but to HIS advantage. (Which, by the way, is also what Rihanna’s been doing with her lingerie line and the Met Gala and Ocean’s 8.) That’s the work of Donald Glover. That’s how he worked it so that instead of being swallowed up by the Disney/Star Wars machine, he’s the one who’s emerged as the Solo standout. It’s not a Lando Calrissian standalone movie but it’s definitely a Donald Glover standalone moment.