On Jan. 7, fans of music artist Sia stopped swinging from their chandeliers and witnessed another Sia masterpiece posted on her VEVO YouTube channel. The music video was for her new song, “Elastic Heart,” and features young dancing prodigy Maddie Ziegler along with an unexpected partner: Shia LaBeouf.
In the video, the dancers are together in a giant cage and use modern dance technique to display a battle. Ziegler sports the same costume she wore in the video for “Chandelier,” with LaBeouf wearing the male equivalent to her nude leotard. The costumes were dirty and smudged, adding to the battle theme.
Given the outstanding feedback Sia’s “Chandelier” video received, it was expected that “Elastic Heart” would receive the same feedback, especially since Ziegler was featured in the music video. However, the new music video did not receive the same response. Because of the large age difference between Ziegler and LaBeouf, many fans thought the video was verging on pedophilia. The choreography of the dance was heavily influenced by modern dance technique and style, which fans witnessed before in “Chandelier” as well as during live performances of the song. Yet for some fans, these movements have taken on a different meaning.
To clear up the confusion, Sia reached out to her fans and apologized for the misconception. Sia’s apology did not isolate the fans who misunderstood the music video but let them into her thoughts as she explained what she was trying to showcase. Sia used Twitter to express her thoughts to her fans by saying, “I apologize to those who feel triggered by #ElasticHeart. My intention was to create some emotional content, not to upset anybody.” In two prior tweets she said, “I anticipated some ‘pedophilia!!!’ cries for this video. All I can say is that Maddie and Shia are two of the only actors I felt could play these two warring ‘Sia’ self-states.”
By taking to Twitter, Sia was able to address the possible crisis at hand with a majority of her fans and nip it in the bud. Sia has always been open about her brand, even going as far as to explaining why she chooses not to show her face on camera, and this latest action on Twitter only reinforces that brand. In the article, “My Anti-Fame Manifesto,” Sia wrote for Billboard in 2013, she refers to society and its opinions as, “a stereotypical, highly opinionated, completely uninformed mother-in-law.” She then continues, saying, “I've never been very famous, but I've worked with a lot of famous people, and I've seen a lot of their mothers-in-law. And I can tell from what I've seen that I don't want one of my own.”
By clearing up the confusion with her music video, Sia was able to defend her intention for “Elastic Heart” while still appearing sensitive to the concerns of her fans. In this way, she has effectively minimized the likelihood of a crisis happening to her brand as a result of viewers’ misinterpretation of the video.
By Chloe Kasper
PRecisely PR is the blog of the Illinois State University Chapter of the PRSSA. We write about Chapter events, the public relations industry, member profiles, and more.