Have you seen Sia’s new video for Elastic Heart? It is beautiful, heart-breaking, and extraordinarily well-done.
First of all, props to society for being aware of sexual abuse and for speaking out for victims’ sake. Props also for Sia apologizing for anyone feeling “triggered” by the video and politely explaining that, with all due respect, the critics are wrong.
Secondly, this video is in no way sexual and is an obvious expose’ of two dueling selves. We ought to be more careful about seeing sex in everything. We ought to be careful, lest we unwittingly demonize appropriately affectionate fathers, uncles, brothers, etc. Let’s also be wary of seeing bodies as nothing but sexual entities, yeah? Bodies are just bodies. Freethenipple and all that.
Other more eloquent writers (including the artist herself) have gracefully explained the intentions and meanings behind the video, so I’ll not bother with that here. Read what they’ve said, watch the video yourself, and come to your own conclusions. I personally found it so moving I was in tears by the end, and my affections for Shia Lebeouf grew, like, ten-fold. (I can’t help it, I’m a sucker for sad bastards!)
It also moved me to think about art, and the way we interact with sensitive subjects artists chose to express, and how they chose to express them.
I want to open a dialogue about what we, in a creative field, are allowed to explore. When does it cease to be art and simply become perverse? Is there any topic that is untouchable?
Because even if this was a video depicting pedophilia (which it’s not), would it not be appropriate still? Lolita is a novel heralded as beautiful, tragic, and “classic” and its literally about a pedophile who kidnaps and rapes his would-be step-daughter for two years all over America while he waxes poetic about forbidden romance. Its told from his point of view as he implores sympathy from a jury.
Is the rape scene in the Clockwork Orange art or is it obscene? Or is it both, and is that ok? Is art allowed to go places we would never dare to in other outlets? Does there have to be a moral to a story?
I mean, if you know me you already know I believe it is, indeed, ok for art to go to those dark places, be it in our writing, our music, our drawings, our dances, etc. I believe there is a separation between art and life; what I’m wrestling with is that pesky little line drawn between them.
My grandpa, may he rest in blue-collar, gun-wielding, Western-novel-reading peace, was the most conservative of anyone in my family. We affectionately referred to him as Dirty Harry up until he died last year (four heart-attacks later…this guy was a fighter to his freaking core). Grandpa Dirty Harry also brought my dad and his siblings to see the Rocky Horror Picture Show when they were kids. In fact, he’s the one who let me borrow the DVD when I was eleven. Grandpa never questioned his morality after seeing a film about a cross-dressing alien murderer; he saw something that was artistic and hilarious about it, and moved on. To his Westerns, I guess.
Reading Lolita doesn’t make you sympathetic to child rapists. Watching Breaking Bad shouldn’t make you want to kill people. These things are stories, in and of themselves, and its ok to read and/or listen to stories, right? It doesn’t mean we’re condoning that behavior of lifestyle, right?
By the same token there are also things that are decidedly Not Ok, and I personally believe anyone wearing Kurt Cobain’s suicide note on a t-shirt is a lousy piece of shit. That is not art, that is reprehensible. Y’all should be ashamed of yourselves.
But then I catch myself again! Where is the line? Who draws it? Is it ok for comedians to joke about something you would never dream of mocking in real life? Should everything online respectfully come with a “trigger warning” or is that pandering to a whiny, self-obsessed view of the world?
I am genuinely curious what you think. Where do you personally draw the line? Is it violence? Is it sex? Is it dirty language? Have you read Lolita? Did you see Django? Have you ever worn fishnets to the Rocky Horror Picture Show?
Do you have as big a crush on Shia LeBeouf as I do?