​Sia's Wildly Controversial 'Pedophilic' New Video Is Actually Beautiful (WATCH)

Sia

I have a very unusual video for you to watch today — if you’re up for it. It’s the latest music video from Sia, and it stars 12-year-old Maddie Ziegler (who you may remember from Dance Moms, or Sia’s Grammy-nominated and also-controversial ”Chandelier" clip). Ziegler is wearing a similar flesh-toned leotard to the one she wore in "Chandelier," but this time she’s contorting her body next to a partner: Shia LaBeouf is the only other person featured in their interpretation of Sia’s “Elastic Heart.” If you’re thinking that seeing a preteen perform a mature modern dance routine with a 28-year-old man is going to feel uncomfortable, you may be right. It’s an extremely provocative performance, so much so that Sia has issued a formal apology to those who felt it crossed too many boundaries.

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I confess I kind of sat back in my chair a bit when I loaded this clip, and as I watched it through the first time, I found myself wincing a bit ... particularly when the two of them are on the ground together, Shia’s hand reaching out to touch Maddie.

But ultimately I found myself caught up in the story the two of them are telling. Yes, she’s a very young girl, and she reminds me very much of Natalie Portman in Léon: The Professional — they have a similar look, that oh-so-delicate combination of innocence and burgeoning seductress — and in fact the entire clip evokes similar sentiments from me as Richard Schickel of Time wrote back in 2001 about The Professional: “This is a Cuisinart of a movie, mixing familiar yet disparate ingredients, making something odd, possibly distasteful, undeniably arresting out of them.”

Sia has responded to the backlash against her video, writing via Twitter,

I anticipated some 'pedophelia!!!' Cries for this video. All I can say is Maddie and Shia are two of the only actors I felt could play these two warring 'sia' self states.

She finished with an apology to those who were negatively affected by it:

Are you ready to decide for yourself? I’ll take the safe approach and warn you that it may in fact be triggering for some viewers. I myself have ultimately decided that it’s painfully beautiful, and I admire all three performers — Sia, Maddie, and even Shia — for how it turned out.

Here it is:

So ... that was something, wasn’t it? Here are some of the lyrics to help make sense of what the dancers were doing:

And another one bites the dust
Oh why can I not conquer love?
And I might have thought that we were one
Wanted to fight this war without weapons

And I wanted it, I wanted it bad
But there were so many red flags
Now another one bites the dust
Yeah, let's be clear, I'll trust no one

You did not break me
I'm still fighting for peace

Well, I've got thick skin and an elastic heart,
But your blade it might be too sharp
I'm like a rubber band until you pull too hard,
I may snap and I move fast
But you won't see me fall apart
'Cause I've got an elastic heart

I've got an elastic heart
Yeah, I've got an elastic heart

I can’t say for sure, but my feeling is that Shia LaBeouf represents Sia’s father and the way her relationship with him hardened her. She’s singing about her elastic side, the lithe one who can escape the bars of the cage; but also the part of her who remains locked inside, weeping to be let free. If you read the lyrics to another one of her songs, “Oh Father,” you can see that she’s carrying a lot of pain from her past.

Sia hasn’t explained the video move for move, but she has made it clear that both dancers are playing different sides of her inner self:

Overall, I think the video is very sad, very captivating, and wonderfully acted. If Maddie’s family is okay with her participating in this, then I say the public should back off — and hit the stop button if they don’t like what they see.

What’s your take on this video?


Image via VEVO/YouTube/Sia

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