I must admit, that despite my fairly advanced knowledge of music, I knew little to nothing of Sia. It had nothing to do with her talent; rather, it is that Pop music has to cross a pretty high threshold to get my attention. Perhaps “Diamonds” as performed by Rhianna should have done it, since it’s one of the few of the singer’s songs that I really love. Apparently, Sia wrote the lyrics to the song in fourteen minutes.
So, imagine my interest when I heard the controversy surrounding Sia’s new video for “Elastic Heart,” starring Shia LeBeouf and the amazing 12-year-old dancer (actress) Maddie Ziegler. I drew my attention, to be honest, because it was trending on Facebook for claims of implicit pedophilia. I pay attention when people ring the Ped alarm, for a number of reasons, which I’ll go into a bit later. But first, if you haven’t seen it, I encourage you to check out the video.
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Now, from what I gather via reading dumbass YouTube comments, this is pedophilia because 1) LeBeouf is much older than she is, and 2) She is wearing ‘nude’ colored dance gear. Let’s address these complaints one at a time.
1. STFU. Not enough? Okay, let’s try this. The two dancers in the piece are not a couple. In fact, they represent two halves of the self, trapped in a cage of its own making. The male dancer, LeBeouf, in no way sexualizes the situation or does anything approaching insinuating they are a couple. Indeed, it’s Ziegler’s character who is the aggressor, showing anger, and physically attacking him more than once. He is strong, but believing he is weak, is trapped. Ultimately, when she finds a way out, she feels for him, re-enters, and consoles and attempts to help him out. It ends in his quiet desperation, his fear keeping her escape from her prison in check.
I don’t know about you, but inner conflicts don’t make me horny. I see NOTHING remotely sexy about this, which brings me to my second point.
2. Dancers wear dance gear. Why is it ‘nude’ colored? I imagine it’s so that you pay attention to the dance and not the actor dancing. Granted, you could have put them both in leotards, clothing, or tuxedos, but then it would have altered the gritty point of the piece, which is, in my opinion, that I versus I is a battle that can’t be easily won. So what about those disturbed by the supposed sexuality?
Since this is my place, I’ll give myself permission to go ahead and say it: they see sexuality, because to them, a dancer is sexy. If you look at an adolescent kid and can see a sex object, that shit resides in your head, and you should keep it in there. Maddie Ziegler is a brilliant, once-in-a-generation performer, and to presume to tell her to dance in a burka because seedy Interwebs Trolls get horny and indignant when they see bodies twist is unconscionable. I find the entire, murky controversy to be bullshit (and ineffective, given 23 million and counting have viewed the piece already).
That aside, let me point out that I raised a daughter, am step-parent to another 11 year old, and believe pedophiles should be killed upon sighting. But I’ve also known those falsely accused (and exonerated) and know how careful one needs to be in wielding the P-word. So, this brings me to my conclusion: the dance is moving, powerful, elegant, and I take back every bad thing I ever said about Shia LeBeouf.
Damn, dude, you got skills.
And Maddie? Well, Oh My Damn. Here’s “Chandalier” also by Sia, with Maddie.
Sia is a remarkable, multi-media talent. Please don’t let close-minded people (most of whom are trying to sound righteous just to seem cool) adversely impact her work. #DefendArt.