Twelve-year-old dance prodigy Maddie Ziegler has suffered the wrath of Dance Moms tyrant Abby Lee Miller. Now, she’s been pitted against actor/plagiarist/performance artist Shia LaBeouf in Sia’s new music video for “Elastic Heart.”
Ziegler had previously catapulted to viral stardom after starring as singer Sia’s blonde-bobbed ballerina stand-in in in the music video for “Chandelier” off her sixth studio album 1000 Forms of Fear, which The Daily Beast recently named the Best Song of 2014. And the 38-year-old Aussie singer has openly expressed her desire to not be famous, performing her songs live with her back turned to the crowd, and even penning an “Anti-Fame Manifesto” for Billboard with an accompanying image of her wearing a brown paper bag over her head. Just four months after that editorial photo of Sia ran, and in the wake of mounting allegations of plagiarism, LaBeouf donned a paper bag over his head at the Berlin Film Festival premiere of his movie Nymphomaniac bearing the slogan, “I Am Not Famous Anymore.” Then, LaBeouf featured in a performance art project in Los Angeles dubbed #IAMSORRY, which consisted of the actor sitting in a room with that same bag over his head and, in Abramovic-lite fashion, allowing visitors to do whatever they wanted to him. Our reporter removed the bag from his head to reveal a weeping LaBeouf, while the actor claims that one female visitor was far more malicious, choosing to rape LaBeouf while her boyfriend waited outside the door.
Which brings us to “Elastic Heart.” In Sia’s latest music video, directed by Sia and Daniel Askill and boasting choreography by Ryan Heffington, Ziegler once again reprises her role as Sia’s diminutive stand-in—blonde bob, skin-colored leotard, and all. This time, she’s in a gigantic birdcage with a particularly burly, buff, and dirty LaBeouf, sporting flesh-colored underwear and hand-wraps, like a cage fighter.
What follows is confounding, but absorbing. After pacing across from one-another and busting out a few epileptic dance moves, the two crawl across the floor towards each other as Sia sings, “Well, I’ve got thick skin and an elastic heart / But your blade it might be too sharp,” and engage in an interpretive dance-fight—with Lil Sia tossing Shia around the cage like a rag doll. After the fracas, Shia approaches Ziegler and begins caressing her hair—slightly creepy given her age—but then she becomes feral and scares him off. Overall, it’s a mesmerizing viewing experience.
And LaBeouf, for his part, has, despite his weird off-screen endeavors (being kicked out of Cabaret for being a drunk asshole, the plagiarism, the performance art schtick), transformed into a far more compelling artistic personality than his wisecracking characters on Even Stevens and Transformers suggested. He got so method for Lawless that he got drunk on moonshine and knocked out co-star Tom Hardy, his performance in Nymphomaniac was deeply committed, and The New York Times’ film critic A.O. Scott recently branded his scene-stealing turn in the WWII flick Fury as Oscar-worthy.
Plus, lest we forget, there was LaBeouf’s previous starring role in a music video—you know, the one where he got stark naked in Icelandic band Sigur Rós’s short film for “Fjögur piano.”