I'm a little late to this party so forgive me if I'm sharing old news here and, if that's the case, feel free to skip right on past this post... but I finally just watched the Sia/Maddie Ziegler music-video trilogy back-to-back, in order, and it broke my brain.
In a good way.
To call these videos controversial is somewhat of an understatement, considering the kinds of criticism heaped upon them from some quarters, especially once the second video (the one in which Maddie plays some kind of inside-the-mind wolf opposite Shia LaBeouf) was released. (And then I came across a website that was going on and on about something called monarch mind control. What even?).
On the other hand I read this piece about what Sia has created on Noisey and I have to say, I agree:
"Sia’s album campaign—the videos, the performances, the responses and the counter-responses—has in itself been one of the most spectacular pieces of contemporary populist art, personally revealing, visually sensational, and entirely functional, as it served, at least in the first place, as a way for Sia to disguise her own face."
I found the videos disturbing, too, but entirely in the way that (I believe) they were intended to be. Each video features pre-teen dancing prodigy Maddie Ziegler portraying... I guess... an inner Sia? An inner Sia battling - often physically - with her inner demons, the thoughts and voices that twist and torture her. Their musical collaboration is profoundly moving, pared back, confronting, and truly beautiful.
And oh my goodness, the video for the third and final track (Big Girls Cry) is something beyond. That torturous battle: the voices within, her gradual descent, all played out on the outside and exposed for us to see... it is astonishing.
Honestly I'm a bit breathless.