I want to say from the outset that I am not familiar with Sia, and that the music video for her song Chandelier was shown to me in the context of an SNL parody featuring Jim Carrey.
The official music video (which you can view here) features eleven year old Maddie Ziegler in a flesh-tone leotard, and a platinum blonde wig, dancing through a dilapidated apartment. The video is oddly compelling, and Ziegler is a captivating dancer.
I was asked to analyse the video in terms of the sexualisation of children, what is and what may not be appropriate. It is important to note that the video has not drawn much controversy, so as far as we may accept the judgement of the court of public opinion (and we really shouldn’t ever), the video is appropriate.
I did find however that when I examined my own responses, what I liked was the lithe and graceful dancing of Ziegler, her young beauty, and the juxtaposition of her innocent freshness in a drab, and dirty setting. In a way my thoughts were skirting the boundaries of the sexual, and knowing this provoked a negative response.
I can see how some men might see the video, feel on an erotic, sexual level, and then convict the video itself of tastelessness. But the sexualisation has occurred in the viewers mind. I see a parallel between this pattern of thought and the quickness with which some men put the blame of sexual transgressions and assaults on the ‘slutty dress’ of women. In reality the women are completely irrelevant, subjected to the whim of a man. This is the tortuous psychology of rape, it directly attacks and even destroys a persons identity.
The Chandelier video therefore is not in itself a product of the sexulisation of a child, and it would be quite wrong to maintain that it is. What then are we poor males to do, enslaved as we are to our constant readiness to see sex in anything? You need do nothing. Sexual thoughts are not wrong or perverse in themselves, and if the dancing of young Maddie Ziegler borders on the erotic in your mind you are not sick, or depraved. Only in a totalitarian dictatorship is thought a crime. A sexual impulse in a music video does not a pedophile, or other sex offender, make. Fiddling with children, and sexually assaulting people does.
So sit back and remember not to take life — or your thoughts — too seriously.