Sia: ‘Elastic Heart’ and ‘Big Girls Cry’

In Praise and Defense of Sia and Maddie

Grammy's 2015
Grammy’s 2015
Grammy's 2015 Closeup
Grammy’s 2015 Closeup

I am a huge fan of Sia and her videos. I made a blog post last year about her music video for her hit single, “Chandelier”. Since then, I’ve been an avid fan of Sia’s videos with Maddie. Maddie Ziegler is also a star on the reality TV show “Dance Moms” which I started watching after seeing how amazing dance moves in the “Chandelier” music video.

Sia’s music video for “Elastic Heart” was hit with ‘controversy’ when some narrow-minded people saw a little girl dancing with an older man and concluded that it was pedophilia. Of course, there’s no such thing as bad publicity and the views on the video sky rocketed. The comments flooded with people disgusted that it could ever be seen as pedophilia. Obviously it wasn’t. I saw nothing sexual at all in the video or the dance. Some people made the very good point that if anybody saw anything sexual in it, then THEY were the problem.

I saw the video as pure art. Maddie and Shia were absolutely enthralling together. They told the story of a battle between two selves: the capricious, childish, ‘free’, wild self and the grounded, adult, ‘restrained’, mindful self. The childish self teases the more adult self and it ends with the adult self being stuck in the mental ‘cage’ of inhibition while the childish self can escape the ‘cage’ and be free. It was deeply emotional and one of the most profound music videos I have ever seen. Utterly beautiful.

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Sia’s music video for “Big Girls Cry” took a drastic turn from her last two videos in that there was no dancing involved. Instead, Maddie delivered a heartfelt performance using just her face and her hands. It was breathtaking for me to watch the raw emotion pour out of her. My interpretation of it is that it tells a story of a young girl who wants so badly to say how she really feels inside but is kept muffled by society and has to restrain herself from spilling her feelings out. She masks herself using make up and tries to pretend like everything is okay. However, its killing her on the inside to not let her emotions out and eventually she bursts. I never cease to be amazed by Maddie’s talent and the video always moves me tears. Powerfully touching.

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I think that Maddie Ziegler coupled with Sia makes for a sizzling, electric pair. Sia’s masterful language and searing vocals combined with Maddie’s enrapturing talent and brilliant moves produce top class music videos. Their videos are a passionate trilogy. I’ll be sure to follow Maddie on Dance Moms and continue watching Sia’s videos.

And to anyone who has a problem with their videos: “Art is meant to disturb the comforted and comfort the disturbed.”

Book Review: Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson

Book Cover
Book Cover

Speak

Laurie Halse Anderson

Published 1999

YA Fiction

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Summary

Melinda is a friendless outcast at Merryweather High. She busted an end-of-summer party by calling the cops, and now nobody will talk to her, let alone listen to her. As time passes, she becomes increasingly isolated and practically stops talking altogether. It is through her work on an art project that she is finally able to face what really happened at that terrible party: she was raped by an upperclassman, a guy who still attends Merryweather and who is still a threat to her. It will take another violent encounter with him to make Melinda fight back. This time she refuses to be silent.

My Thoughts

Speak was not an easy novel for me to get through. Laurie Halse Anderson’s language was viscerally powerful and her metaphors gave me pause countless times. The main character, Melinda Sordino, is a tragically sympathetic character. My heart almost-literally bled for her throughout the whole book. Anderson did a great job of tackling such a triggering subject matter as rape in a piercingly artistic fashion. I was literally seeing the world through Melinda’s eyes, and her story was emotionally tasking to read. I became emotionally invested in her character, and by the time I got to the end, I wept. I wept because Anderson had taken me on an emotional roller coaster ride with Melinda and I didn’t know how to feel when it ended.’

The ostracized Melinda let me in to her inner thoughts with an unceasingly witty internal commentary. She grappled with not speaking, something I could definitely relate with. She closed herself off from the world. Yet, she also grappled with her art project throughout the novel, and by the end, the reader could definitely feel fulfilled that Melinda had found her voice: both literally and artistically.

If there was one thing I took away from this book, it was this: If we don’t express ourselves, we kill ourselves little by little, slowly by slowly, everyday.

Favorite Quotes:

If people don’t express themselves, they die one piece at a time. – Melinda

I just want to sleep. A coma would be nice. Or amnesia. Anything, just to get rid of this, these thoughts, whispers in my mind. Did he rape my head, too? – Melinda

He says a million things without saying a word. I have never heard a more eloquent silence. – Melinda

It wasn’t my fault. He hurt me. It wasn’t my fault. And I’m not going to let it kill me. I can grow. – Melinda

download5 starsimagesKele

Book Review: City of Heavenly Fire by Cassandra Clare

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City of Heavenly Fire

Cassandra Clare

725 Pages

Published May 27th, 2014 by Simon and Schuster

Read June – July 2014

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WARNING: This review is not a spoiler-free zone.

Synopsis

In this dazzling and long-awaited conclusion to the acclaimed Mortal Instruments series, Clary and her friends fight the greatest evil they have ever faced: Clary’s own brother.

Sebastian Morgenstern is on the move, systematically turning Shadowhunter against Shadowhunter. Bearing the Infernal Cup, he transforms Shadowhunters into creatures out of nightmare, tearing apart families and lovers as the ranks of his Endarkened army swell.

The embattled Shadowhunters withdraw to Idris – but not even the famed demon towers of Alicante can keep Sebastian at bay. And with the Nephilim trapped in Idris, who will guard the world against demons?

When one of the greatest betrayals the Nephilim have ever known is revealed, Clary, Jace, Isabelle, Simon, and Alec must flee – even if their journey takes them deep into the demon realms, where no Shadowhunter has set foot before, and from which no human being has ever returned…

Love will be sacrificed and lives lost in the terrible battle for the fate of the word in the thrilling final installment of the classic urban fantasy series The Mortal Instruments!

My Thoughts

Wow. I can’t believe I’ve finished the entire Mortal Instruments series. I had a every emotional ride with all the characters, and this book is the best conclusion to a series I have ever read. It was a befitting finale of an epic story.

First of all, I loved reading about how Emma Carstair’s story began. Her character warmed my heart from the very beginning, and I can’t wait to see how her own story unfurls. Meeting her and the Blackthorn kids was very interesting was interesting in that they are so different from anything we’ve seen from Cassandra Clare before. Their story line was very refreshing and like a breath of fresh air. Emma’s relationship with Julian Blackthorn took center stage in her story, and their closeness was a joy to read.

Ms. Clare took her sweet time getting to the actual war part of the story, but the set-up was exquisite. The journey to the Dark War was thoroughly well-written, through various points of views, so that I could see different characters roles in the upcoming war, making the story very well-rounded.

The romances were delicious. We finally get to see how everyone stands, from Clary and Jace, to Magnus and Alec, to Simon and Izzy, to Maia and Jordan (and then Bat). It took the whole entire book to finally get to see what becomes of Magnus and Alec, but it’s well worth it. Clary and Jace finally got very intimate, in what was a very beautifully-written scene that makes me swoon just thinking about it. Simon and Izzy actually become a couple at long last. Maia’s romance is met with tragedy, but she unveils a budding new one after.

I really liked the new characters introduced, as well as old characters becoming more in-depth in the story. I thought Lily was really cool, and I enjoyed getting to know more about Raphael.

Sebastian Morgenstern is hands down the best villain ever written to me. He was downright terrifying. There was no doubt that he was a completely evil being, and he was pretty easy to hate and despise.  He was also extremely clever and actually really brilliant, so that he was a formidable foe that wouldn’t be easy at all to defeat.

I liked how Clary got to really tap into her shadowhunterness, at long last, equipping herself and taking up her family sword. She became stronger, not only in fighting, but also in her special power: rune-making. It was impressive to read how she saved herself and her friends by simply producing runes out of thin air.

The twist that led to the final defeat of Sebastian was amazing. Jace’s heavenly fire took center stage, and Clary figured out how to use her gift for runes to trick Sebastian and save the day. It was all really clever of Ms. Clare.

One thing that was really tragic, however, was how Clary lost the brother she never got to have. We only got a glimpse of what Jonathan would have been like without the demon blood, and it was heartbreaking to lose him immediately after.

The ending was loaded. There was a shocking twist, that a solution was eventually found for, which would completely change everything, but not in totally a bad way. The premise for the next series (The Dark Artifices) was set up, which I really cannot wait for. What would become of Mark Blackthorn? How would the Fey retaliate against the injustice against them by the Clave? What will Emma find out about her parents’ demise? How will Emma and Julian’s lives be like in the Los Angeles institute (as Parabatai)? How will Helen Blackthorn and Aline Penhallow fare?

My favorite part of this book is how the past, present, and future collided. We got to see Jem again!!!! He and Tessa reunite!!!! Emma meets Clary, and they develop a mutual like  and admiration for eachother!!!! Emma gets to meet her ancestor Jem!!!! Clary gets to meet Tessa and have an actual conversation with her (which included their shared experience with Herondale boys)!!!!

It was basically the perfect ending.

An easy 5 stars for me.

5/5

End Note: It’s funny how Cassandra Clare kept on stressing how lives will be lost and keeping us all tense, when the deaths weren’t even as heavy as she was hinting at. She said six people we know by name would die, instantly driving all her readers crazy with trepidation, yet those six people were as follows: someone who’s near sole purpose was to be the love interest of someone who actually didn’t really love him and got a new love interest, a psychotic villain, another clear villain, someone who’s death was a tragedy to make his character more interesting/likeable, the actual bad guy who needed to be defeated, and someone who I can’t even remember.