PopScreen: Gnarls Barkley, "Gone Daddy Gone"

Dir. Chris Milk

Gnarls Barkley has traded cool for creepy with the video for their Violent Femmes cover, “Gone Daddy Gone.” Rather than another eerily addictive dreamscape like the Rorschach-inspired “Crazy,” we get an itchy and uncomfortable two-and-a-half minutes of “A Bug’s Life” on Viagra.

Brief synopsis: singer Cee-lo Green—who along with producer Danger Mouse composes Gnarls Barkley—is the leader of an animated band of fleas. He’s fallen for a tall, blonde (human) bombshell in bobby socks and a yellow housedress. Having taken up residency on her retriever, the flea colony is forced to endure several trials for the sake of the head flea’s love. They’re rejected by the dog and assaulted by a vacuum cleaner before losing one of their number to a strip of fly tape.

Cee-lo tries to express his feelings by leading a group hike up his true love’s thigh. This is apparently not to the blonde’s liking as she promptly brushes his gang away and chases them with green insecticide. The fleas try to climb into her panties, she scratches them off and sprays them all with green gas and then they die.

What started out as a playfully strange scenario turns positively effed-up when, in his final moments of life as an arthropod, Cee-lo reflects back on a catalogue of memories he’s imagined for their pair: bug and blonde riding a bike. Bug and blonde having a picnic.. Bug and blonde having raunchy sex in every position known to both species?!

Yet strange as it sounds (and is), Cee-lo as the Lord of the Fleas is irking yet irresistible. The tune of “Gone Daddy Gone” is just as persistent as the panty-obsessed pests. The video never strays from the bizarreness we’ve come to demand of notoriously unpredictable Gnarls Barkley. And, after all, we’ve all felt like bugs at some point—crushed mercilessly into the carpet of love.