In the video, both Shia and Maddie are in little clothing, and dancing together. There are moments in the video where they are laying beside one another, she is on his back, or he is reaching out to touch her. Due to this, many people quickly wrote off the idea of the video being anything more than some old guy wanting to be with a young girl.
To me, the dance itself wasn't as suggestive as people had made it out to be. The touching between the two is very minimal, and for most of the video it seems that the two of them are in some sort of battle. Honestly, I thought it was a bit strange the first time I watched it, but it deserved to be watched again.
Upon watching it a second time, I listened to the music behind it more carefully and tried to tie the two together.
The lyrics contained phrases such as "You did not break me, I'm still fighting for peace," "I've got thick skin and an elastic heart," and "I want it, I want my life so bad. I'm doing everything I can." Hearing this, I knew for sure that this wasn't a two person relationship struggle, but a struggle that was occurring within oneself.
I think the concept was a lot harder to grasp for most people because it wasn't two people of the same gender playing the part. But, Sia tweeted recently after the controversy began that Shia and Maddie were the only two that fit the role to her, so this was how it was supposed to be. The video could have been completely different if just one of the two were switched out for someone else.
The two Sia's.
The character that Maddie portrays in this music video would be better known as a younger, care free Sia, while Shia would be what Sia has become, how she is now. I would think that the cage works as her mind, where the two of them are confined. As Maddie dances around and acts carefree and naive, Shia watches her in fascination, as if wondering how this could have been his former self and what has happened. Maddie dances away from him, and you can tell she isn't happy with what she's become. I imagine it'd be terrifying looking into a mirror and seeing that you've become an old, worn down member of society.
Through Shia's facial expressions and the way he looks at her, you can tell that he is having a hard time letting go of who he used to be.
Does he really want to?
Does he have to?
And Maddie doesn't really want him to be this person either. She hits him and his facial expressions become more childish, almost proving to him that she's still somewhere in there. That maybe they shouldn't let go just yet.
Ultimately, it's just a matter of time before it's too late and she has to go. But neither one of them want her to go without him. She can easily slip through the bars of the cage, but he is too big to fit. They fight to try to get him out until the very end of the video, where he seems to become much more hopeless about what is to be, while she seems to want to fight indefinitely.
I would ask people to look further into the video before writing it off. The concept of fighting and letting go of your inner self is pretty big. My advice is to sit back and enjoy the wonderful performance put on by Shia LaBeouf and Maddie Ziegler with the musical styling of the talented Sia and just relax, not everything in the world has to be something so terrible. If you haven't seen the amazing music video you can watch it here.