Monday, January 12, 2015

Elastic Heart - Sia Part II

Yeehaw! I got inspired by something! Here I am with part two of my Sia posts. I didn’t expect to do this, but she struck again with another meaty, “controversial” video that I just can’t resist writing about. If you haven’t read my post on Chandelier here it is:

The Other Video Art - Sia's "Chandelier"

I’ve watched the video for Elastic Heart several times, just like I did with Chandelier, to really take it all in. If people just look at the surface all they’re going to see is what they want to see or that their brains trigger them to see. But I personally don’t see this supposed “sexuality” or “pedophilia" everyone is crying about. Chiefly because Sia would have to be a complete moron in order to actually put that in one of her videos, and considering she has a good career that makes her a considerable amount of money and additionally the enjoyment of doing what she loves, it would be completely nonsensical to do something so abhorrent as to disrupt all of that.

The culture of the Western World has completely over-sexualized everything. On the one hand, I don’t blame people who felt triggered, creeped out, or weirded out by this video because our entire culture has been absorbed in the Showtime, HBO version of life where the carnality of man is exaggerated and even exalted. We’ve become so numb we need the most extreme and despicable things to entertain, excite us, or even make us FEEL anything. I believe we’ve gone back to Roman gladiator days in more ways than one, but that’s a topic for another post.

We’re constantly looking out for the violence, sexuality, and tangible pleasures to meet our needs. We’re always looking for the latest gadget or the next big thing. We get bored and distracted so easily. That’s why porn addiction is at an all-time high and people’s level of addiction depends greatly on more and more perverse acts of sexuality to satisfy their boredom and emptiness. We have too much of everything and it's never enough.

With that kind of mindset in a large populous, it’s no wonder why people constantly have sexuality on the brain, our entertainment world doesn’t leave them with much of a choice, the same way it doesn’t leave much to the imagination.

Sia gave context for this video herself on Twitter for everyone to read. She said the two characters were two sides of herself at war and that even though she knew there would be some backlash, Shia LeBeouf and Maddie Ziegler were the only two people she felt could do justice to the symbolism of the video. As an artist, I know how annoying it is when people interfere with your vision and say “well why couldn’t you just do it THIS way or THAT way.” It’s my work, shove off and make your own art if you want it done that way. Sia, I applaud you for having the bravery to make something like this knowing some people wouldn’t get it and accuse of crimes you clearly haven’t committed.

On that note, let’s talk about the symbolism of the video. If you watch it knowing Sia’s context that will help, but when I first saw it I didn’t have that context. What I really love about it is that it’s a continuation of her Chandelier video. Using Maddie to play herself again gives a lovely continuity to the story of her album. Also lending to the continuity is the use of interpretive dance, sparse setting, and costuming of dirty, skin-toned leotards to show that vulnerability and the unsettling feeling of being exposed. Her heart is laid bare and open.

As I mentioned Sia said the two characters represent two sides of herself that seem ever at war. My interpretation is that Maddie obviously represents her childlike spirit, but also the wildness of a child too. She has no order or higher understanding, she’s hard to control and acts out. Shia represents something older and wiser. He’s strong and almost afraid of that crazy wild child getting loose. Someone mentioned something about him having a beard showing age and wisdom in comparison to little Maddie. He’s the “thick skin” strong, brawny, older, wiser, and she’s the “elastic heart” younger, flexible, wild, not to be tamed.

Some people watched their interactions and saw it as seduction, like the grown man trying to seduce a little girl, but that’s not it at all. It’s not seduction, but persuasion. Trying to calm her, control her, persuade her to be sensible. You can see it in the way that Shia moves… very deliberately and calmly at first… it isn’t until later that he really starts to fight back in any way and loses his patience with the other self.

I love the part where she freaks him out so much that he climbs up the cage in order to evade her, but then he waits for her to “fall asleep” before attempting to try and persuade her again. This time he comes to her gently, waking her up with a touch and holding out his hands to her when she wakes up, using a different approach, but in the end it’s futile because this wild side inevitably wins.

It’s actually quite sad as we watch moments where it seems the two sides are getting along harmoniously but in the end the wild child breaks free and leaves her wiser self caged up. I love the way this is acted out with Shia crying and reaching for her, desperate to make her understand but her will too strong. Some people would say that’s a good thing, but to me this video does not have a happy ending. The happy ending would be the two sides letting each other be themselves and working together creatively but sensibly.

I’ll post the lyrics and the video at the bottom of this post. In her lyrics she addresses her lack of trust, her bad decisions in relationships and in life, and what sounds like an inability to achieve stability. Once I really thought about this video, it hit me hard. Though I still like the video for Chandelier a little bit more artistically, this video I related to more personally. I’ve never been a party girl, like in Chandelier, but sometimes the two sides of myself war with each other too. I have that childlike spirit, but also an old soul. Though I’ve found peace for both sides of myself in many areas, there are sometimes when one defeats the other, and it’s sad for me.

Sia’s work is interesting to say the least, but for me it’s just refreshing to see someone do something outside the box. Most music videos (in the mainstream domain) are just the same recycled junk over and over again. Her work is strange and controversial, but it’s also intentional and deeply thought. With simple sets and costuming she is able to tell a not-so-simple story. I wish more people would value their own art the way she does and have the daring gall to do something that might shake people up. Isn’t that what art is supposed to do?

To conclude, get your mind out of the gutter, people, and open your eyes!

Elastic Heart
By, Sia

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

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

And I will stay up through the night
Let's be clear, won't close my eyes
And I know that I can survive
I'll walk through fire to save my life

And I want it, I want my life so bad
I'm doing everything I can
Then another one bites the dust
It's hard to lose a chosen one

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

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

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

2014 Movie Round-Up!

Finally 2014 is OVER. It was a disappointing year in so many ways, and the A&E sphere was no exception. My *once* favorite show ONCE Upon a Time completely flushed itself down the toilet, and I found very little solace in movie houses throughout the year. To top it off, there wasn’t even a Pixar film this summer. But amidst the dissatisfaction I was able to uncover some real gems. Some expected, and some surprises, but the ones that inspired me REALLY inspired me. 

I realize I am very behind on film analysis, I am kind of overwhelmed with the choices of films I would like to write about, but offhand Locke, Into the Woods, Calvary and Interstellar are the meatiest in regard to symbolism and theme. I hope I can do a piece on each of them soon. 

If you’ve read my past round-up blogs, you know what to expect but if not: *Disclaimer: Let it be known that my system for awarding and choosing favorites is based on my own personal taste, mood, appeal, and knowledge of film. Although I do judge films based on the standard criticisms, I do not cater to Hollywood’s opinion or anyone else’s. To argue or dispute my statements would be futile, as I am not forcing anyone to accept my choices but me. I choose people based on the proficiency and uniqueness of their work and productions for the same reasons.

My Top Ten…

1. Interstellar
2. Guardians of the Galaxy
3. The Lego Movie
4. Noah
5. Captain America: The Winter Soldier
6. The Hunger Games Mockingjay
7. Calvary
8. Locke 
9. Belle
10. X-Men Days of Future Past 

Other Films I enjoyed…

1. Into the Woods
2. The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies
3. Big Hero 6
4. Magic in the Moonlight
5. How to Train Your Dragon 2
6. Wild
7. Muppets Most Wanted
8. Maleficent
9. Gone Girl

Movies I Missed and Would Like To See… 

1. Song of the Sea
2. Snowpiercer
3. Begin Again
4. The Theory of Everything
5. Jersey Boys
6. The Imitation Game
7. Chef 
8. Boyhood

I would like to give some credit to the composers who scored the films this year. There were some awe-inspiring ones for sure.  Interstellar, Noah, The Theory of Everything, Maleficent, The Hobbit, and even though the movie was a bomb I, Frankenstein had a spectacular score. It was a great year for music in film. 

I really don’t feel any inspiration to give out my usual awards in all categories like I normally do. My mind just isn’t in the right place for that. Frankly, I'm so underwhelmed by the film and television industry right now I lack the passion to really do it justice. Sorry guys. :-/ 

Anyway, what did you guys think of this past year? Share your thoughts in the comments below!