Regular viewers may recall a post I published last year about the music video for Sia’s song Chandelier, which is here. I tested the proposition that it was sexually exploiting eleven year old Maddie Ziegler, who dances through a dilapidated apartment wearing a light grey leotard and a platinum blonde wig.
I concluded that any sexual dimensions evoked by the video take place entirely in the mind. In other words I could watch the video through a sexual lens, and again without sex being present at all. I thought Maddie Ziegler is a fantastic dancer, and even at the age of eleven she is a professional with experience in television. I can’t see her being exploited by a Sia music video if she isn’t facing the same exploitation in her other work. Some may say she is, that an eleven year old should not be dancing on television at all, but it follows that their contention is children in general should not be in show business. So at the arbitrary age of eighteen (or 21) they can then go straight into bearing their buttocks in rap videos, or worse? Is that better? I am quite happy that Maddie Ziegler, a professional dancer, is not being exploited and can take care of herself in the industry she has grown up in.
On to the issue of today. Sia’s new music video for Elastic Heart. Maddie Ziegler is back as the same character inside a massive cage reminiscent of the kind from a 19th century circus. She is not alone in the cage. Dirty, muscled, and naked except for a pair of light grey shorts is the bearded Shia LaBeouf. The two dance as semi adversaries until Maddie reveals she can leave the cage by slipping through the bars. Shia cannot, and the relationship changes. Neither wants to be left alone. The final image is of Maddie trying to pull a despairing Shia through the bars.
Again sex does not come into it unless it is supplied by your own mind. That some people have compared it to pedophilia reveals more about them then it does about the video. I expect such people see something wrong with male teachers a priori (from the first), regardless of who they are or whether there is any evidence of impropriety. I thought that the Elastic Heart video was fantastic, and the casting of Shia LaBeouf was genius. When he wants he can be utterly asexual, even with rippling muscles and a pair of shorts.
Critics on Stuff have said:
“Some of the dance moves in the arthouse-style clip, made by Chandelier director Daniel Askill, involve close contact and suggest ambiguous intimacy – although it is not overtly sexual – and rejection. Some viewers have interpreted that as sexual intimacy and aggression, and there’s a reasonable argument Furler and Askill could have been a lot more careful – and less provocative.”
Yes it could have been less provocative, but what would have been the point? Art has to be provocative on some level, and the extent to which it is depends entirely on the artist(s). It must never depend on the fragile plane of acceptable things that the public like to hold things to. If it is that then it isn’t art, it is commercialism. And I’ll take art over that any-day. On the point of ambiguous intimacy, the setting needs to be taken into account. The two performers are in a cage, they are imprisoned within and without because outside the cage is even more lonely and drab than inside. The cage is in a large, dusty warehouse room. Of course the two inmates are going to share an intimacy, it is unfortunate that people are so stunted that they can’t fathom an intimacy being non-sexual.
Sadly, we cannot rely on even the basic textual analysis that I have done from the media, who are so quick to label things it is a wonder that they possess any un-spun knowledge. They have called the video bizarre, and will only consider it as something bizarre. The link below is to the video, and I ask you to consciously open your mind before clicking it.