Sia's "Elastic Heart": Performance Art Through The Prism Of Cinema
A Variety Of Hidden Meanings Abound In Sia's Latest Music Video That Could Represent Two Sides Of Her Consciousness. Food For Thought & Much Debate
Read all about it! Sia Furler is truly exploding! Previously known to only a niche audience who began her music career as a ghostwriter for more well known artists and her band Zero 7, 2014-2015 seems to be Sia's true big break. At the age of 39, she has appeared on SNL once and "Late Night With Seth Meyers" where she used "Girls" creator and star Lena Dunham as her acrobatic stand-in. But, the big hubbub about her now is her intense and multi-faceted music videos that have set the internet aflame for their pervasive content, deft showmanship and plenty of mixed reactions from her growing fan-base. She has plenty of detractors, sure, particularly for her latest video "Elastic Heart" with many people citing some pedophilia themes and other ignorant thoughts. Well, who can blame America? We are the most sex and violence obsessed nation in the developed world and the viewing public expects there to be subliminal messages of all sorts. Still, this reviewer is coming to Sia's adamant defense. Read on.
Sia is an artist, first and foremost, who has always liked to maintain her anonymity. Keeping a super low-profile and refusing to tour with only the occasional public appearance has kept her curiously in the public eye and also not at all. Her voice - the most notable thing about her - is, at this point, truly unmistakable as her latest hits from her 2014 release "1000 Forms Of Fear" have been topping the charts with an insane amount of radio play. The thing that separates Sia from her contemporaries like Lady Gaga or Katy Perry is there is GENUINE depth in her music and a technical mastery that exudes a haunting quality. In other words, you can tell her songs are actually about something as they peel back the layers of her soul as she wrestles with personal demons from her past while also confronting the price of fame and excess. Her 2008 single "Soon We'll Be Found" off of her album "Some People Have Real Problems" is a simple song about a romantic relationship gone sour as the hook of the song is:
"Let's not fight I'm tired can't we just sleep tonight
Turn away it's just there's nothing left here to say
Turn around I know we're lost but soon we'll be found"
© 2008 Sia Furler
Sia sets up the atmosphere in this song so well and the message is immediate and never blurry. As troubling as this song is with highlighting her turmoil the notion of "soon we'll be found" leaves a silver lining for both her, society at large, and her partner. This is actually no different from "Elastic Heart." The main difference though is the separation of the portions of her mind represented quite well by Shia LaBeouf and breakout star Maddie Ziegler who steps into the shoes of a young Sia. In the video, the two are locked together in a dome-shaped cage and are forced to confront each other in the literal and figurative sense. Some have alluded to the fact that Shia's character could represent her father and their complex relationship. Others have thought that the two represent the polar opposite sides of Sia yearning to find meaning and co-existence. In any case, the internet has run amok with allegations of pedophilia claims because Shia's much older man is in skin tight cream-colored underwear as he's "erotically touching" younger Maddie. The claim is as idiotic as it sounds. The music video is playful, not sexual. Halfway through Shia starts making silly faces to Maddie like a father would to his daughter. Really, there should be no cause for alarm. But alas, those who are deemed to misunderstand like the majority of America will remain blissfully and sadly unaware of the true impact and authenticity of this video and song.
The other part of this story that boggles my mind is Ms. Furler giving in to her critics and openly apologizing for the video when there was absolutely nothing to apologize over. Perhaps it was a necessary thing to do to pander in order to save face? Regardless, work like this requires repeat viewings and if its not grasped the first time the possibility of some enlightened thinking could reveal itself upon a 2nd or 3rd go around. This reviewer is TOTALLY in Sia's corner and anxiously awaits the announcement of tour dates. *Fingers Crossed*