Childish Gambino’s Sober music video is uncomfortable to watch, but great (VIDEO).

Childish Gambino’s Great, Weird Video for “Sober” Is Anything But

Childish Gambino’s Great, Weird Video for “Sober” Is Anything But

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Slate's Culture Blog
Jan. 9 2015 12:12 PM

Childish Gambino’s Great, Weird Video for “Sober” Is Anything But

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Donald Glover, aka Childish Gambino, is a master at upending expectations.

Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Childish Gambino’s music videos are frequently absurd and uncanny, whether he’s multiplying himself à la Eddie Murphy while making his way through a depressingly lit diner on loop in “Sweatpants,” riding a Ferris wheel with a giant tattered teddy bear in “3005,” or sprouting Alien-like tentacles in “Telegraph Ave.”

His video for “Sober,” one of the best tracks from his great STN MTN/Kauai mixtape, is equally bizarre. In it, an inebriated Childish Gambino dances like a fool in a take-out restaurant while relentlessly trying to hit on a woman waiting for her food. Unimpressed and clearly uncomfortable as he invades her personal space, she quickly moves to another table. But his antics grow bigger and crazier—cue special effects—and she briefly complies, smiling and doing a small dance as she finally gets her food.

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Thankfully, the video doesn’t end as you may suspect it will—this is not one of those stories where the creepy guy hitting on the cute girl who couldn’t be bothered wins her over in the end. (Think, e.g., of Michael Jackson’s “The Way You Make Me Feel,” whose sonic influence is all over the production of “Sober.”) But then, that shouldn’t be surprising if you’re a fan of Childish Gambino: He’s shown time and again his knack for turning expectations on their head

Aisha Harris is a Slate culture writer and host of the Slate podcast Represent.