My Interpretation of Sia’s Elastic Heart Music Video

After watching Sia’s music video of Elastic Heart, I couldn’t help myself make my own interpretation of her music. I rarely listen to songs in this genre, but the music video was so intriguing and amazing that it made me watch the video at least thirty times (not even exaggerating).

I listed the symbols and the sequence of the video then interpreted it like it was a math algebraic problem to be solved with all the x’s and the y’s. While others interpreted it as a parental relationship between Sia and her father, I saw it as a battle of two personalities living inside the self.

Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KWZGAExj-es

Maddie represented the self who was ill due to, maybe, an addiction while Shia represented the self who fought over the illness. The cage represented depression, and the world outside it was happiness, or the satisfaction of being able to escape depression.

The video started with Maddie making faces to Shia. He even closed his eyes (00:38) while she was doing so, and that meant his resistance to addiction.

And I wanted it, I wanted it bad
But there were so many red flags

Shia tried to face her, but when he tried to fight, it seemed that Maddie was stronger (00:51). Maddie even dragged herself on his back and forcefully put her hands on his eyes. Any kind of addiction would make you blind of depression temporarily.

You did not break me
I’m still fighting for peace

Shia managed to escape by climbing the cage (1:28) while Maddie lied down beneath the hanging Shia. He went down, and lied beside her when she finally relaxed. (2:01) I thought of it as how one would do self-reflection.

And I know that I can survive
I’ll walk through fire to save my life

But while reflecting, Shia found himself seeking for Maddie again. Thus the biting of Shia’s hand happened. (2:21)

Then another one bites the dust
It’s hard to lose a chosen one

He was furious at Maddie because he felt tricked. He tried to fight her once again, but she managed to go out of the cage. That part was so hard to understand, but it made sense when I thought of it as how an addictive thing could make one feel better (temporarily, at least).

He then lost hope, realizing that Maddie was able to go out of that cage while he couldn’t.

The re-entrance of Maddie (3:15) and her slow climb to Shia’s shoulders signified the self’s surrender to addiction. He carried her on his shoulders and arms as if she was a burden (or maybe a responsibility). She conquered his body and emotions, and made him follow her towards the bars of the cage where she was the only one who could get out.

At the end of the video, Maddie kept on pulling Shia while she was standing on his knees. Shia, on the other hand, was begging for Maddie. (4:11) Maddie outside the cage while Shia still inside it meant that it was the addicted self who succeeded the battle, and that Shia needed Maddie in order to have a glimpse of satisfaction.

My interpretation may be aligned to the music video, but not entirely to the lyrics especially with the last two lines:

But you won’t see me fall apart
‘Cause I’ve got an elastic heart

And it kept me guessing, that was why I liked it.

2 thoughts on “My Interpretation of Sia’s Elastic Heart Music Video

  1. I agree to your symbols of Maddie(an inner self) and Shia(the self)and the cage(the boundary). However, I have a different point of view on the MV as a whole. Let me express my self-definition of the characters. Maddie an inner self who probably lost someone or is terminally ill, Shia the self, and the cage as the boundary between the real world and a “fabricated world”

    DISCLAIMER: When I refer to Maddie, I refer to the “inner self” that she portrays in the video. The same goes for Shia, so please do not quote me in the context of their lives. :)

    Firstly, denial, as I’ve said the cage served as a boundary between Shia’s real world(the outside) and his “fabricated world” which is exactly the definition of denial. One would develop a false, preferable reality.[1](I will expound on this maybe at the end of my post. Hint: look at Shia’s body, so strong huh? He THOUGHT he was strong.)

    Secondly, anger, the video started with Shia and Maddie staring at each other, from their facial expression, we can already see this. Anger was much more expressed when they started fighting each other.

    I told you that he THOUGHT he was strong right? That’s why he hastily runs towards Maddie even though he was barehanded. Apparently, Maddie’s stronger than Shia.

    Wanted to fight this war without weapons

    We see that in (00:38) Shia refused to look at Maddie, I think this is because of fear. At (00:43) we see that Maddie is as if grasping for air. I think this is exactly what happens when we do not look at our problems. It is pacified for a while, but it is still there. (00:46) Shia looked at Maddie again[2] and Maddie regained her strength. We will see this at (01:29) again Maddie covered Shia’s eyes and thus had the courage/strength to get rid of Maddie.

    You did not break me
    I’m still fighting for peace

    Then, Shia and Maddie started to calm down. Shia started to distance himself to the point where Maddie can’t reach (01:33), this was the natural tendencies of people in grief, to not look at their problem and just let life flow but the problem’s still there! Shia may not feel it, but Maddie is still there. Then at (01:53) Shia decided to let go of the distance and thought that he was strong enough, but as he tried to face Maddie again he was surprised, thus comes the next stage.

    And I know that I can survive
    I’ll walk through fire to save my life

    Thirdly, bargaining (02:08) Shia was offering his hand to Maddie as if offering a truce. Then, Maddie bit Shia hinting that bargaining didn’t work.

    And I want it, I want my life so bad
    I’m doing everything I can

    Fourthly, Maddie started to show Shia the real world by going out of the cage. (02:54) She was mocking Shia that was still enclosed by his “fabricated world”. Then comes depression, the fourth stage. After realizing that he can’t get out of the cage (03:14) he started crying as if to represent the acceptance of his situation and thus making way to the fifth and final stage.

    Lastly, acceptance. (03:25) Shia realized that he can still stand up with Maddie on his shoulders, and even walk for that matter. (03:35) We can see them holding hands and therefore signifying the true acceptance of the situation.

    The sad thing is, Shia ended up being mentally challenged and let Maddie control her (03:44) Maddie started to bang Shia’s head and Shia makes funny faces signifying Maddie’s control and Shia’s mental deterioration.

    Finally, Maddie, the inner self, decided that it’s okay now. And so started to lead Shia towards the real world. But, he was too caught up in those five stages that time ran out and eventually led to his death (04:47).

    [1]A false reality wherein Shia perceived himself as a very very strong man, look at those muscles! And that his problem was very small look at Maddie! But in reality, it was the opposite.
    [2]This is essentially the explanation for the pre-chorus “You did not break me, I’m still fighting for peace” Shia wasn’t done with his problem yet and decided to fight through.

    In conclusion, as humans we tend to put up our defenses when problems arise and thus, doing the things above. Like putting up masks to prevent people from seeing the real thing so that they couldn’t see us fall apart. This could be an explanation of the title and the chorus “Elastic Heart”. We must remember that we are still humans, and if we keep forming and deforming our hearts into different shapes, we will eventually meet our limits and snap like a rubber band, therefore hurting ourselves.

    Like

    1. Impressive interpretation! Yours made a lot (more) sense especially when you explained the relationship between the characters in the video and the song title. I kept on thinking what “Elastic Heart” meant. Thank you for your thoughts, and for reading my blog as well.

      Liked by 1 person

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