Another day, another controversy spread across social media. I first heard about Sia's "Elastic Heart" video on Facebook, but not by seeing the actual video.
My Facebook timeline was in an uproar at the "disgusting" and "perverted" "pedophilia" tone of Sia's latest music video. One of my good Facebook friends wrote a four-paragraph status update on his viewpoint. Naturally, I had to watch the video after reading his well-laid-out opinion and find out what the heck everyone is so upset about.
At first glance, I saw nothing wrong with it. I saw two incredibly talented performers carrying out dynamic choreography. Were 28-year-old Shia LaBeouf and 12-year-old Maddie Ziegler a little too close for comfort? Yeah, a little bit. But I've seen more awkward situations in prime time television commercials.
My friend who posted his lengthy perspective on the "Elastic Heart" video brought up a good point. He works with abuse victims and spoke of how certain images might trigger a certain reaction, but the video actually reminded him of his relationship struggles while raising his daughter. He saw a father/daughter struggle. Another unique take on my timeline was a friend of mine in recovery seeing it as the addiction struggle. I, of course, have a somewhat different take on Sia's piece.
As a life coach, this video is such a great visual for that internal struggle that I often see my clients caught up in. The cage, the fight, the moments of peace, the emotions, the inability to control, the desire for control, the highs, the lows, and more are feelings, ideas and states that most of us can relate to in our everyday lives.
The cage and Ziegler's character's ability to freely leave in a single moment is what triggered the coaching comparison for me. When a person feels stuck or unable to move up and forward, I often compare it to being in a cage. In the majority of circumstances, we have the ability to freely leave. What keeps us in the perceived cage can range from things we anticipate (such as work or struggle), or lack of resources including motivation, confidence or hope. We are rarely stuck beyond our control.
We are often in a fighting match with ourselves. Sometimes that little feisty perception is kicking our strong solid self's butt, and sometimes we rise above those jittery little thoughts and let them sleep, only to wake them up later. And sometimes we can look the antagonist in the eye, carry them, be playful with them and understand that the stable self is in fact one with the chaotic self. Once a person can make peace with themselves and all the stability and chaos that's part of the package, and cease that internal struggle, then they are one step closer to freeing themselves from their own cage.
Sia explained on Twitter that the two characters represent the "2 warring 'Sia' self states." Do I buy her explanation completely? No. Until she further explains why she specifically chose an older man and a younger girl to be intertwined in interpretive dance, then I believe she was seeking controversy, in which she succeeded. And it also looks like the controversy helped pick up an advertiser: an ad for Jennifer Lopez's new movie "The Boy Next Door" in which Lopez's character has a tryst with a teenager. The ad runs prior to the music video. Coincidence? Perhaps. All controversy aside, however, Sia was a genius at transitioning her musical art "Elastic Heart" into a visual art piece that can be interpreted in whichever way the viewer chooses.