A little while ago I heard me and Andy's roommate, Jefferic, singing a song that I'd never heard but thought was brilliant. It ended up being by the artist, Sia. If you don't know her music directly, chances are you're familiar with songs she has written and sold to other artists. One of the more famous of these songs is "Diamonds", made famous by Rihanna. After doing a little research I decided that she was worth my $10.99 on iTunes, so I downloaded her latest album and put it into my regular rotation of albums I play while driving across Tennessee.
The song I heard Jefferic singing that day was "Chandelier", which has made its way into most people's ears by now. Always concerned with making an artistic statement (as well as a few coins), Sia has currently decided to not show her face when she performs, because she's more interested in the music than the fame (or so she says). What this means is that she does not even appear in her own music videos, giving way for a 12 year old girl named Maddie Ziegler to wow us all. Here are a few photos of Maddie performing in the music video for "Chandelier":
A few days ago, Sia released her latest music video. This video also features Maddie, but she is partnered by actor Shia LaBeouf. Most people know Shia LaBeouf from Even Stevens, but my first exposure to him was actually from the movie "Constantine", where he played alongside Keanu Reeves. As soon as I saw him on screen, I knew this was going to be out of the box, so to speak (despite the action of the video taking place in a cage). Last year, Shia took part in a performance art piece in Los Angeles where he basically sat in a room for a period of time while patrons came in and interacted with him however they chose, and Shia would not stop them. According to reports, a multitude of things happened to him. Some patrons were said to sit and talk with him. Others hit him with whips. On one occasion, Shia reports being raped by a woman, which caused museum officials to stop the experiment. Anyway, when I think of Shia LaBeouf I think of that sort of thing, so I was interested to see what his role would be in this music video.
As a mentioned before, the video takes place in a cage, where barely-dressed Shia dances, fights, and even (sort of) wrestles with young Maddie. The video has already received criticism, because it's viewed as semi-pedophelic. Sia has since apologized for the misinterpretation, and assures her fans that it was not her intention to push the envelope in that direction. Maybe it is inappropriate. Maybe it's just over the heads of lots of people. Either way it's got people talking, and that's what art is supposed to do, right?
So what do I think of this video? I think it's amazing. I see it as a physical representation of some sort of vice. Maddie represents our inner spirit, and Shia represents that thing we're addicted to, or feel that we can't live without. It doesn't have a place in all aspects of our lives, so it's trapped in the cage. We (Maddie) go in and out of this cage, understanding that this addiction causes pain, but we do it anyway. For many people, Shia is alcohol, sex, or other sorts of drugs. For others, he's religion, the desire to please others, or a feeling of guilt that can't be shaken off. What do you think of this video? What (or who) is your Shia LaBoeuf? I think mine is bassoon.
EDIT: Bassoon isn't my Shia LaBoeuf. It's reed making. Definitely reed making.
It's 2015, so I'm sure the gyms are packed. I don't know personally, because for some reason I guess I feel better donating to the fitness facilities each month rather than getting what I'm paying for. I feel strange resolving to do things because it seems, like most people, that it would take more than numbers on a calendar to incite personal change. Over this winter holiday with Andy I've gotten the opportunity to see just how much things have changed when it comes to social issues by visiting both the Martin Luther King Jr. Museum in Atlanta, and the National Civil Rights Museum of Memphis. With this experience centering around the New Year, the idea of personal change and what initiates it has been resonating.
When we walked into the (free) MLK Jr. Museum, I was prepared to learn things I wouldn't otherwise know from school books. What I was not prepared for were the emotions I felt throughout the tour. The first room we walked into outlined Dr. King's life, including the mule-drawn carriage his body was placed in after his death. When I saw the pictures of everyone who showed up to march in his memory, I couldn't help but to cry. This, along with images of Coretta Scott King sitting at her husband's funeral, truly exposed the spirit of the entire movement for me. Moving through the rest of the museum reinforced those emotions, as pictures and videos of violent backlash against peaceful demonstration continued. How could anyone do such heinous things? What would it take for people who think like this to change?
After a few more days of sight-seeing and great eating, we returned to Memphis, and the first thing I wanted to do was to go to the Civil Rights Museum, which many people were surprised that I'd never visited before. There was lots of overlap in the information, of course, but because I grew up in Memphis the history was much more personal. Even at the start of the tour, the guides were purposeful in their use of the word "we", when it comes to the injustices black people have faced for centuries. Things like Jim Crow are explored there from a very "then and now" perspective, and simple maps of the city can show why I, for example, grew up in the neighborhood I did. It's said everyday and I'll say it again: We've come a long way but it's clear that we've got a long way to go.
I've taken many things from my visit to these two museums that I'm going to let marinate in my mind a little more (a few of which are listed below, [hover for description]), but the most important, in my opinion, is that people are capable of change. Once upon a time it was universally acceptable to own another person, but the evolution of (many of) our minds has changed that. If someone's dogging you out for saying "New Year, New Me", let them remain the cynic! If you believe you can be a new, better version of you, I say go for it. If 2015 brought you into the gym for the first time in an era, good for you! Even if you never go back that's one day you spent there. I think anyone who thinks people can't change to a certain extent should have more faith in what we're capable of. For my sake, I hope some of you at least try to be a better you. I try to do it everyday.