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The Quinnipiac Chronicle

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The Quinnipiac Chronicle

Ten years of ‘3005’: The impact of Childish Gambino’s existential anthem

Connor Youngberg

Childish Gambino released “3005” 10 years ago, in October 2013, and it is loved by many people for many different reasons. Some people love it for its catchy chorus, or even the nostalgia that surrounds the song. 

I love “3005” because it brought awareness toward a struggle I didn’t know wasn’t exclusive to me.

Existentialism, the main theme of the song, explores the meaning of life and asks questions about our existence, as well as our inevitable non-existence. An existential crisis occurs when someone starts asking themselves these questions and cannot find a comfortable conclusion, resulting in constant thoughts of loneliness, death and a lack of purpose. This is something I experienced many times throughout my life, and it’s the core of Gambino’s “3005.”

I think existentialism is an important concept for people to know and learn about. Before I even knew what it was, I was suffering from this kind of thinking, wondering why these depressing questions were consuming my thoughts. Researching Gambino’s “3005” was the first time I knew other people had the same struggles.

Gambino — also known by his real name, Donald Glover — is a writer, actor, producer, artist, comedian and more. The swiss army knife of entertainment notably left the NBC sitcom “Community” during its fifth season to pursue other goals. While he didn’t leave the show for the sake of making music, it happened to be where he found the most success.

In “3005,” Gambino says, “got a house full of homies, why I feel so the opposite?” and “‘cause when them checks clear, they’re not here, ‘cause they don’t care.” 

These lyrics show that Gambino feels he has been wasting his time with people that don’t actually care about him, but rather his money. This reinforces his inner feeling of loneliness, which combined with his thoughts of death, result in an existential crisis.

While the lyrics contain references to Gambino’s darker thoughts, the music video’s cryptic deeper meaning is a perfect representation of how it feels to be going through an existential crisis.

The video shows Gambino and a teddy bear, wearing a plaid trapper hat, riding a ferris wheel at an amusement park. Throughout the video, the camera follows Gambino and the bear until the camera rotates to show the outer world, and eventually ends in the same spot. This motion happens twice throughout the video and each time reveals something new.

The first loop around the ferris wheel shows Gambino and the bear in their seats, with people around the same age as Gambino seen sitting in the cars behind them. The first camera tilt shows the calm, outer world with glimpses of a park.

When the camera comes back to Gambino and the bear, the stuffed animal is slightly ripped. Furthermore, the people behind Gambino are now elderly. The final camera tilt shows the world around them is on fire and the lights on the ferris wheel are no longer on.

When the camera orients itself for the final time, Gambino and the background people are gone, leaving only the teddy bear on the ride, which is now beaten up beyond repair.

In this video, Gambino perfectly portrays the harsh truth that everyone we love, including ourselves, will eventually die.

The setting is an amusement park because existential crises can happen even in moments that should be happy and positive. Being someone who has dealt with this form of anxiety, I found it was often when I was having fun that I would have thoughts that eventually what I love wouldn’t exist.

Graduating from college is a difficult pill to swallow. It’s the final chapter of school, something that has been a constant in all of our lives for as long as we could remember. As we transition into adulthood, it can be difficult to prepare ourselves for the unknown, which is why I think awareness of existentialism is so important.

It’s easy to hit a mental wall when life gets tough and start questioning our purpose, and knowing that other people are going through the same thing is extremely important. We can’t stay kids forever, and that’s something Glover understands too.

In Glover’s 2012 stand-up comedy special, “Donald Glover: Weirdo,” he makes a joke about childhood, saying, “All of us have had that moment when we’re at Home Depot and was like, ‘Oh, that’s a cute little mailbox.’ Bury your dreams ’cause you’re not a kid anymore. You’re dead.”

While this is a hilarious joke from an underrated comedian, it’s true. Eventually, you have moments where you feel your childhood slipping, and I believe that’s the point of the teddy bear in the “3005” music video.

While there are many different theories about the meaning of the bear, I believe that it’s meant to represent childhood, as it’s closely associated with the wholesomeness of being a little kid. However, that wholesome childhood feeling can easily become lost in the chaos and realness of adulthood.

Throughout the music video, the bear becomes more and more beat up until it’s ripped to shreds, just like how it feels to constantly drift further away from your childhood.

At the end of the day, we’re all just ticking time bombs, and it’s something that we have to accept, no matter how difficult it is. Even with a Grammy nomination, “3005”’s greatest accomplishment is showing everyone who has ever struggled with existentialism that we’re not alone.

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Connor Youngberg
Connor Youngberg, Associate Multimedia Editor

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