“Elastic Heart” Video Receives Unwarranted Pedophilia Claims

Interpretive dance is just that- interpretive. It’s meant to go beyond visual appeal, to tell a story without words.

Sia’s new video for “Elastic Heart” from her album 1000 Forms of Fear showcases 12 year old Maggie Ziegler (previously featured in Sia’s Grammy nominated “Chandelier” video) and 28 year old Shia LaBeouf engaged in an emotional interpretive dance. The pair, wearing nude colored clothing, dance in a giant cage in a way that can be described as both emotionally and physically intense (also intense? Shia’s bod. Hey, I’ll admit it). They both represent warring sides of Sia herself.

I enjoyed Sia’s decision to have such actors so different (age, gender, appearance) to represent different aspects of herself, the feminine and masculine side. More often than not, females in pop music not only focus on the female aspect of themselves, but an exaggerated form of it. Are people just not receptive to the idea of a feminine and masculine side? Sia  wrote on her twitter “All I can say is Maddie and Shia are two of the only actors I felt could play these two warring ‘Sia’ self states.” and later added “I apologize to those who feel triggered by ‘Elastic Heart.’ My intention was to create some emotional content, not to upset anybody.” She was not too defensive or blaming others for seeing things differently, she was to the point and very respectful in her apology.

Much of the reasoning for peoples dislike of the video is the way they are dressed- but no one blinked an eye at Maggie wearing the exact same outfit in the Chandelier video (In fact many have replicated it). It’s once Shia is thrown into the mix, a dirty, muscular contradiction to her prepubescent frame that people became outraged. They are both in clothing quite typical of dancers and I’m sure if the genders of the two were reversed, it would be taken very differently. Comments would be more about the complicated relationship between mothers and sons. Why is it that when we see an older male and a younger female interacting, we must immediately sexualize her?

Sia performed the song on the Jan.17 episode of SNL, accompanied by Maggie but not Shia. Instead there was an older woman dressed identical to Maggie.The performance was great (Sia’s voice is just as lovely live) but I felt the message was completely different with a second female dancer. I don’t blame Sia for the change, no one wants their art to be associated with something as disturbing as pedophilia.

I personally, think the whole album 1000 Forms of Fear is dynamite. It’s personal, catchy, and backed up with a ton of talent. It’s unfortunate that all involved had to have their art met with so much controversy, but I guess that’s just part of art. I’ve linked the video below. Thoughts?

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2 thoughts on ““Elastic Heart” Video Receives Unwarranted Pedophilia Claims

  1. anpanda says:

    So I watched this video very tentatively, fearing that there would be some content in this dance that would make me uncomfortable and give me some sketchy vibes, especially with music videos being as sexually charged as they tend to be these days (not that there is anything wrong with that, but when you combine that with a pre-pubescent girl and a middle-aged man it could definitely be cause for alarm). I’ve seen Maddie’s other dances before, and she’s an incredible, uninhibited and inspired dancer,so I think my main concern was what Shia might bring to this piece. Watching this dance I saw nothing but an unreserved, honest and sincere approach to a powerful song (which I have never heard before) which gave rang no alarms in my head (and I’m quite sensitive to these kinds of things). There were some parts when I was afraid things might take a turn into questionable territory, but it never happened. The vibe between Maddie and Shia didn’t give me a any impression of sexual intentions, rather, it reminded me more of how a father might play with his daughter. It was a really interesting and beautiful depiction of humanity in a raw, wild, and animalistic way that still avoided branching into more sexualized territory, and instead evoked other aspects of human relationships. I kind of got the vibe of an adult who may have lost his way chasing after the idea of youth, mixed with a kind of animalistic hunt between two predators, mixed with a kind of parental attachment/dependency, all wrapped up in a kind of unspeakable longing. I don’t really understand what it means, and I was too busy watching to catch the lyrics to the song so I have no idea what it was really about, so I’m speaking completely from my own personal impression after watching this video. Honestly, after the song ends and Maddie is silently and desperately pulling at Shia from outside the cage, I broke down crying. For some reason the whole thing made me kind of think of my dad who passes away a few years ago, and I was just really moved. Perhaps part of it is also because it’s four in the morning and I haven’t finished my homework yet. Anyway, I came into watching this video very apprehensively, and I was not at all expecting to be so emotionally affected by it. I know there are people who could be triggered by this video, and I can’t say anything to their experiences of trauma, but for the other people who are reading pedophilia into this video where there is none, I have to say that I’m pretty disgusted. Maggie (and Shia) lay themselves bare in a beautifully honest performance that gives no outright suggestions of sexuality, so reading something like that into this dance is not only offensive in my opinion, but instead of calling out inappropriate sexual behavior it is inserting it where there was none to begin with – moreover, implying it on a prepubescent girl, which kind of raises a different red-flag for me regarding the over-sexualization of young girls. I think when people call out these kinds of works of art, they do more harm than good. There are literally thousands of other music videos filled with dehumanizing depictions of women and problematic sexual behavior (among other issues) that should be called out instead.

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    • TerryLynn says:

      Thank you for your comment, I agree entirely! I found it very disconcerting that no one had an issue with Maggie’s leotard until they saw her in it next to a man and automatically sexualized her.

      Like

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