Call it slick marketing. Sia’s latest single, “Elastic Heart,” wasn’t making any waves on the charts last week. Then, suddenly, Sia released the music video for “Elastic Heart” and all hell broke loose. Several social justice warriors on Twitter claimed Sia was promoting pedophilia with a video that features actor Shia LaBeouf, 28, and dancer Maddie Ziegler, 12, dancing close together and infusing provocative moves.
I can't place it, but Sia's new video makes me uneasy. Probably because the song is older than a year. Or the pedo vibes. #ElasticHeart
— Arnold vd Walt (@DisArnold) January 8, 2015
Wow the new Sia video really brings the pedophilia this time.
— Mark Maira (@MarkMaira) January 7, 2015
According to MTV, Sia expected the controversy over “Elastic Heart” and to obviously promote the video even further, has apologized.
“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. I apologize to those who feel triggered by #ElasticHeart. My intention was to create some emotional content, not to upset anybody. [sic]”
Well, Sia surely doesn’t have anything to apologize for now, as “Elastic Heart” jumps from nowhere to number 17 on Billboard‘s Hot 100 chart. Since the controversy, sales have increased on iTunes and it looks like Sia could be headed for another top ten hit, even if radio doesn’t latch onto the song. Billboard heavily counts video streams towards their chart formula and Sia knew how to take advantage of this. This controversy reminds a lot of people about another marketing savvy star, Madonna.
In early November of 1990, Madonna released “Justify My Love,” a track off her soon-to-be greatest hits package The Immaculate Collection. Nobody had really noticed the song until the video, which featured bondage, a lesbian kiss, and other controversial sexual antics was released. Unlike Sia, Madonna didn’t apologize. She want on Nightline to defend “Justify My Love,” garnering millions of new gay fans while continuing to stick her finger up at the mainstream moral majority.
“It is my artistic expression… I draw the line with violence, humiliation, and degradation. I don’t think any of these issues are evident in my video… Why do parents have a problem with two adults displaying affection for each other, regardless of their sex?”
After the controversy and banning from MTV, “Justify My Love” went on to become the best selling video single ever. Madonna tried to rework this formula again with the too-violent-for-MTV release of “What It Feels Like for a Girl” in 2001, but failed. Perhaps the violent video didn’t fit the sweetness of the song.
Like Madonna, Sia is paving the way for artists who want to express themselves freely without having people misinterpret her intentions. What do you think of Sia’s “Elastic Heart” video?
[Photo Credit: Rolling Stone]