Sia released her new video for ‘Elastic Heart’ last month and it certainly has caused a bit of a stir. Upon her return to the music industry after a lengthy break, the blonde songstress has decided to keep her image veiled this time round. She performs with her back to the crowd and instead uses dancers as the visuals in her show.
One of these dancers is the upcoming young star, Maddie Ziegler. She shot to fame after starring in Dance Moms and at the tender age of twelve, has already achieved a lot. She was the solo dancer in Sia’s Grammy nominated ‘Chandelier’ video, and many were taken aback by the youngsters wild, frantic dancing.
Since the video for Elastic Heart was released, many outraged fans and parents have hit out against the video, deeming the dance routine between the two dancers inappropriate and ‘disgusting.’ Maddie dances with the notable Shia LaBeouf, who is sixteen years her senior. That alone, for many viewers, is disturbing enough due to the delicate issue of what is age appropriate and what is not.
Sia has since explained that she felt Maddie and Shia were ‘two of the only actors [I felt] who could play these two warring ‘Sia’ self-states.’ Like any big-time singer-songwriter, Sia had the last say when it came to recording her video and she evidently had a vision for the piece which included two very specific actors. It is no surprise that Sia chose Maddie – she has been named ‘Mini Sia’ and tours America with the 39-year-old.
“I anticipated some ‘paedophilia!’ cries for this video,” Sia wrote on twitter. Does that mean she purposely included ‘perverted undertones’ in the video? No. I do not think so anyway. It is not like the actors were inappropriately touching each other at any point during the video. There was of course some physical contact, there had to be: it is a dance routine between two people in a cage. There were certainly not vibes of ‘paedophilia’ like so many viewers have claimed.
Samuel Chambers, 27, a DMU student studying Creative Writing and Journalism, said: “It’s a bit odd, isn’t it? To see a fully grown man throwing a 12-year-old girl about in a cage. I am sure there was no intention to create sexual connotations though, but they perhaps should have anticipated that some people may interpret it in this manner, and as such, expected some of the backlash.”
I agree. Backlash is expected with most ‘art’ as it is very personal and interpretive; but I think it is logical to reason that there were no intentional sexual connotations. Sia also posted an apology on twitter, writing: “I apologize to those who feel triggered by ‘Elastic Heart.’ My intention was to create some emotional content, not to upset anybody.”
I think it is fantastic of Sia to apologise to the people she has offended. It shows good character, professionalism and that she cares about this negative reaction, too. However I also feel it is disappointing that the talented songstress has to apologise for making what is essentially ‘visual art.’ The world is fast becoming an absurd place to live in – actually, I take that back. It already is an absurd place to exist in, but I think many will agree it’s becoming far too ‘PC’ to the point where even breathing will be considered inappropriate behaviour eventually.
Reports emerged in The Daily Mail that social media users had inundated the singer with complaints of inappropriateness with regards to the video. A particularly memorable tweet from one member stated: “Smacks of child molestation #pervert #unacceptable #childabuse… Explain please!’ Come on. That is absolutely ridiculous!
Dance is an art form. When dancers salsa with each other erotically, do their husbands or wives leave them because they think it is inappropriate? I doubt it. Why? Probably because they are not stupid enough to think that what is conveyed through dance is actually something that is in fact very real. Touching does not always indicate lust and sex, in the same way that dance should be taken at face value. It is not carnal, it is dance.
When I first watched the video, I waited with anticipation for these so-called perverted undertones. I was waiting for that ‘no-she-did-not!’ moment, but it did not and still has not arrived. Personally, I do not think Sia needed to apologise for the video. The pre-teen dancer did not feel uncomfortable dancing with Shia, and various reports claim that the twenty-eight-year-old was in fact very respectful to the young dancer.
Maddie is famous in her own right, for her raw dancing talent, and I am sure she has danced in routines that were a lot more touchy-feely. Was she concerned about dancing with an older man or did she feel uncomfortable? Apparently not. The only concern on this young girl’s mind was Shia’s hygiene. She demanded that he bring wipes because he ‘smelt’ and ‘looked dirty’, whilst she herself routinely sprayed herself with perfume. The behaviour of any normal twelve-year-old girl then. If the actors involved did not feel uncomfortable, why should anyone else?
As far as I am concerned; if you do not like it, do not watch it. There is nothing forcing anyone to keep their eyes glued to the screen. If parents do not like their children watching it, switch it off. There is absolutely no need to continuously watch it, picking every innocent, naïve touch apart. I think this video is hugely inoffensive in comparison to the music videos that circulate nowadays. No one seems to care that Beyonce is parading around in lingerie, thrusting her backside up in the air in her new video. No one cared that Rihanna gave a raunchy lapdance to one lucky audience member, in front of thousands of screaming teenage girls, at every one of her tour dates two years back. If viewers are looking for videos that are perverted and inappropriate, I think they need to look a bit further than Sia…