SIA'S ELASTIC HEART - CAGE MATCH OF THE SOUL

Dancer Maddie Zeigler in Sia's Elastic Heart.

Dancer Maddie Zeigler in Sia's Elastic Heart.

Singer/songwriter Sia recently released a spiritual successor to her massively popular music video for "Chandelier".

This video, for her single "Elastic Heart", features the same dancer from "Chandelier", Maddie Zeigler, performing alongside Shia Labeouf inside a steel cage.

Because of the age disparity in the performers and because Zeigler and Labeouf are barely clothed in nude leotards and nude briefs, detractors have labelled the video child pornography and pedophilic.

Watch for yourself, decide for yourself, interpret for yourself.

SUBSCRIBE to Sia: http://bit.ly/1sudphS The official video for "Elastic Heart" directed by Sia and Daniel Askill, featuring Shia LaBeouf and Maddie Ziegler. choreographed by Ryan Heffington.

This music video is the exact opposite of pornography.

Pornography strips the human body of soul, reducing a performer to an object, a collection of parts that have no meaning beyond the superficial satisfaction they provide the viewer. Pornography is empty, appealing to impulse and simultaneously disrespecting that impulse by boxing desire into a very rigid, superficial notion of sexuality.

It's understandable that this video might inspire discomfort in a viewer (all good art should). The video holds a mirror up to your own existence, forcing you to ask yourself questions about what you believe, what you've been through, and where you're going. Dance is also inherently sexual, and we are indeed watching a mostly nude grown man dance alongside a mostly nude child.

The closing moments of Elastic Heart with Shia LaBeouf.

The closing moments of Elastic Heart with Shia LaBeouf.

To see only that quality of this video (especially without considering the fact that their clothing is clearly a purposeful creative decision that affects the story) is to permit fear to ruin your experience of something beautiful and valuable.

This video is the exact opposite of pornography because we are watching nothing but soul.

This is Sia's deepest self on display. This is Sia's pain. This is Sia's life. This is Sia's struggle. This is her failure. This is her triumph. And she has graciously shared it with us so that we might see were are not alone in this life.

All of this is something professional wrestling fans see on a regular basis.

Shia and Maddie in the opening moments of Elastic Heart.

Shia and Maddie in the opening moments of Elastic Heart.

The instant I saw the first image of this video I immediately thought: "Cage match!"

I immediately understood what I was seeing and what it meant. Pro-wrestling fans have that interpretative-edge because the imagery and the performances will be so familiar to them. We are comfortable with mostly nude bodies embroiled in conflict. We know what taped hands mean. We know what choreographed war is all about.

Granted, the video allows for a myriad of interpretations and you certainly don't need to be a pro-wrestling fan to understand it. The video is simultaneously vague and specific, ethereal and instantly familiar to open-minded viewers.

Shia LaBeouf in Elastic Heart.

Shia LaBeouf in Elastic Heart.

Maddie Ziegler in Elastic Heart.

Maddie Ziegler in Elastic Heart.

But if you're a fan of pro-wrestling, your familiarity with the iconography will hopefully allow you to more quickly identify what this is all about and how it's worthwhile (and decidedly not pornographic). You will hopefully understand that this is not the story of a predator attacking a child (the child is actually the dominant force throughout), but the story of two like-minds desperately trying to find their place in a world of pain. They are forced to bring each other to the brink of destruction because their desires conflict.

The staged combat of this video and the staged combat of professional wrestling are inherently linked. The choreographies are simulations of battle. This dancerly simulation is the means of telling a timeless story. The dance, the athleticism, is metaphorical in both mediums. The kicks and punches and bites exchanged between Maddie and Shia are no different than the kicks, punches, and bites exchanged between Stone Cold Steve Austin and Vince McMahon. Presentation and context are the only differences. Where artistically-inclined people will watch this video and praise its depth and cultural value, many of those same people will watch Bret Hart vs Stone Cold at WrestleMania 13 and only see nonsensical 'rasslin entertainment devoid of deeper meaning.

Conversely there are pro-wrestling fans who will read this article (maybe) and think I've gone insane, that I'm completely off-base and that there's no connection between the entertainment they love and Sia's art.

It is important to bridge that gap, because we can only grow as individuals, as a species, and as a culture when we understand how our arts inform one another and communicate with one another. The clash of ideas is the only way we make progress - a central theme of this video and a central theme in professional wrestling performance.

Shia Labeouf and Maddie Ziegler engaged in battle in Elastic Heart.

Shia Labeouf and Maddie Ziegler engaged in battle in Elastic Heart.

Art is not reserved for the elite, privileged few. Art is for all, and art comes in many forms. Good art tells a story and good art uses its chosen medium to tell that story exceptionally well.

The story of this video, the story of this fight, follows the path of any traditional pro-wrestling match. The combatants lock up, they trade momentum, there's a high spot or two, one character tries to make peace, the other character refuses peace, and then one character finally gains the upper-hand. In the end the viewer is moved toward catharsis as a result of having watched the story unfold.

While the conflict in this particular cage match of souls is resolved with both sides forgiving one another (not the kind of thing you usually see in the WWE), the arc of the narrative and the tragedy in the closing moments is not unlike any good pro-wrestling rivalry.

Take Seth Rollins & Dean Ambrose, for example.

Dean Ambrose vs Seth Rollins at SummerSlam, simulating a fight between rivals.

Dean Ambrose vs Seth Rollins at SummerSlam, simulating a fight between rivals.

Dean Ambrose dragging Seth Rollins' face against the Hell in a Cell.

Dean Ambrose dragging Seth Rollins' face against the Hell in a Cell.

At SummerSlam, before Dean curb-stomped Seth into the mat, he kissed him on the forehead and mournfully said, "I love you". He hates Seth, but that hate is ultimately synonymous with love. They were former members of the same tag-team, a brotherhood. That bond is something Dean relied on, something Dean needed. His love for Seth has not vanished, but because Seth forsook that love, rage has hardened Dean's heart. The love persists, but it persists as a reminder of pain, of what has been lost. Dean can do nothing but exact some kind of revenge. He must destroy the one he loved and the memory of that love so that he might then move on, and find some peace.

That is exactly what happens in Sia's music video.

The moment Maddie takes Shia's life so that she can escape.

The moment Maddie takes Shia's life so that she can escape.

These two souls play an assortment of parts throughout the production, existing as cyphers for a variety of relationships all at once. They are lovers, they are fighters, they are animals, they are an addict and the addict's drug, and then, finally, they are father and daughter; two tragic beings desperately trying to escape their own depression & the divided self trying to escape its own destruction.

One of the most touching moments in the video, Maddie gains control of Shia, transforming him into a loving, playful father.

One of the most touching moments in the video, Maddie gains control of Shia, transforming him into a loving, playful father.

Sia breaks free of the cage, but it comes at the cost of losing a valuable part of herself, even if that part was destructive. The loss of an addiction or a pain of some kind still registers in your body as a loss, and it can leave a human being feeling drained and depressed. Triumph can follow should one escape that last, painful grasp of nostalgia (and you can be nostalgic for pain, usually without even realizing it).

Maddie has escaped. She is victorious, but she also struggles to let go.

Maddie has escaped. She is victorious, but she also struggles to let go.

I wouldn't be surprised if Sia's next video features an even more self-possessed, elated Maddie Ziegler, a version of Sia's soul that represents her arriving at a place of peace.

Sia no longer wishes to show her face in public. It's important to note the similarity in Sia's wig and Maddie's.

Sia no longer wishes to show her face in public. It's important to note the similarity in Sia's wig and Maddie's.

One of the keys to fully appreciating this video and the lyrics of "Elastic Heart" is seeing past the seemingly uplifting refrain of "Chandelier".

We hear "I'm going to swing from The Chandelier" and "I'm going to live like tomorrow doesn't exist" and we see Maddie filling an apocalyptic scene with stunning life, and we feel inspired to sing and dance. We think the song is about perseverance and strength and "seizing the day!"

See for yourself:

SUBSCRIBE to Sia: http://bit.ly/1sudphS The official director's cut for the 4 time Grammy nominated hit "Chandelier" directed by Sia and Daniel Askill, featuring Maddie Ziegler. Download "Chandelier" on iTunes http://smarturl.it/SiaChandelier New album "1000 Forms of Fear" out now!

"Chandelier" is about addiction.

Party girls don’t get hurt
Can’t feel anything, when will I learn
I push it down, push it down

I’m the one “for a good time call”
Phone’s blowin’ up, they’re ringin’ my doorbell
I feel the love, feel the love

1,2,3 1,2,3 drink
1,2,3 1,2,3 drink
1,2,3 1,2,3 drink

Throw ‘em back, till I lose count 

I’m gonna swing from the chandelier, from the chandelier
I’m gonna live like tomorrow doesn’t exist
Like it doesn’t exist
I’m gonna fly like a bird through the night, feel my tears as they dry
I’m gonna swing from the chandelier, from the chandelier

But I’m holding on for dear life, won’t look down won’t open my eyes
Keep my glass full until morning light, ‘cos I’m just holding on for tonight
Help me, I’m holding on for dear life, won’t look down won’t open my eyes
Keep my glass full until morning light, ‘cos I’m just holding on for tonight
On for tonight

Sun is up, I’m a mess
Gotta get out now, gotta run from this
Here comes the shame, here comes the shame

1,2,3 1,2,3 drink
1,2,3 1,2,3 drink
1,2,3 1,2,3 drink

Throw ‘em back till I lose count

When reading the actual lyrics of "Chandelier" it becomes clear that the seemingly uplifting refrain "I'm going to swing from the chandelier" is tinged with mournful irony. "Chandelier" is the story of a young woman addicted to drink. "I'm going to live like tomorrow doesn't exist" is the allure of intoxication, the sense of power and strength that we feel when we're out for a night of partying (ignoring the fact that tomorrow actually does exist and that our actions have repercussions). We're enraptured by the experience, disconnected from reality, disconnected from whatever private pain we're secretly avoiding, and we feel like we can conquer the world, like we're going to "swing from the Chandelier".

The song fluctuates between the highs of a high and the lows of coming down from that high. After coming down, the only way to cope with the loss of that sense of power and freedom is to repeat the process, to "1,2,3 drink, 1, 2, 3, 1, 2, 3 drink".

Maddie Ziegler drags her hands across her throat in Elastic Heart.

Maddie Ziegler drags her hands across her throat in Elastic Heart.

"Elastic Heart", and the song's video, is part two of that girl's story. "Elastic Heart" details that girl's final battle with the demons that drove her to be the addicted, yet still beautiful soul in "Chandelier".

There is a beginning, a middle, and (I hope) there will be an end. This structure dictates not only the way a films and plays progress. It's also the way matches unfold, and the way long-form professional wrestling narratives unfold.

The most basic purpose of this analysis to to demonstrate to you a fundamental truth about art: it's all connected.

We desperately yearn to tell our story, to put our soul out into the universe and for others to take notice.

Shia Labeouf and Maddie Ziegler come to peace in Elastic Heart.

Shia Labeouf and Maddie Ziegler come to peace in Elastic Heart.

We can get our soul out there by learning an instrument, writing a book, creating a website, becoming a teacher, investigating crimes, playing video games, running marathons, studying abroad, or applying The Sharpshooter so long as doing so is an accurate expression of who we really are.

It's important to see the connection between our various artistic mediums for the same reason it's important for you, dear reader, to leave a coherent, worthwhile comment in the comments section, and for me to leave a coherent, worthwhile reply.

When there is discussion between the arts themselves, when we see the commonality in our various forms of expression, we not only feel less alone, we realize that we're not so different.

There's someone who loves Sia's video who has no idea how similar it is to professional wrestling. But you both share a bond - you both respond to similar visuals, similar themes, and similar styles of performance. There's someone out there who you would probably never think to speak to who actually understands a very personal place within your soul.

That's valuable.

This truth can help elevate pro-wrestling to its rightful place as an artistic medium in naysayers' minds, and it can help us wrestling fans not only appreciate our beloved pasttime that much more, but it can help us feel better about ourselves for contributing to a timeless, benevolent tradition; telling the story of the human soul.

Whether it's Ricky The Dragon Steamboat vs The Macho Man Randy Savage or Mankind vs The Undertaker or Steve Austin vs Bret Hart or Steve Austin vs The Rock or CM Punk vs John Cena, we wrestling fans are watching the human drama play out again and again.

This video, like pro-wrestling, strips away the nonsense, and puts the open wound that is the human soul on valiant display.

We're watching our secret, internal war.

And sometimes the only way to bring that war to a finish is inside a steel cage.

Thank you for reading. Feel free to comment, like, share, repeat! And follow on the gimmicks below!