By: Elizabeth Klein
On June 12, 2016, the deadliest terrorist attack since 9/11 occurred in a gay nightclub. The club, Pulse, was invaded by Omar Mir Seddique Mateen early that Sunday morning, who pledged his allegiance to ISIS before killing 49 people and injuring at least 53 others. During the three hour standoff, those trapped in the club desperately attempted to contact their family and friends. Afterwards, police entered the nightclub and killed Mateen.
It’s been three months since the attack, and members of the LGBT community continue to feel the incident’s effects. Mourners met at the club on the shooting’s anniversary to grieve the victims of America’s deadliest mass shooting. The incident is not only one that caused sadness, but it also caused fear. In a place where LGBT people thought they could be themselves and feel safe, they were viciously attacked and watched their friends die. So as the anniversary passed, heavy emotions were felt.
On September 6th, pop artist, Sia, released the music video for her song, “The Greatest.” One only has to watch the video to understand the message. It begins with the words “We Are Your Children,” written as a hashtag on a black background. The words then transition to shots of children laying motionless in a run-down building that resembles a jail cell. Maddie Ziegler–the dancer in many of Sia’s other music videos–is seen in a black wig, starkly different than her usual blonde. As she makes eye contact with the camera, she smears rainbow makeup down her cheeks–the colors of the LGBT pride flag. The dancer then begins to sob in front of the motionless children, urging them to wake up. Paired with the black wig, it becomes obvious that she is grieving. As the music starts, the children awaken, and the video progresses into Sia’s usual eclectic dance moves set to a catchy pop beat.
However, the video is much more than just its beginning. At about the 3:30 mark, the set changes. The building has turned into a more lively version of itself, complete with colored lighting and disco balls. The children dance happily as the music fades out. But as Sia’s voice disappears and the camera zooms out, all children fall to the ground at the same time, revealing a bullet-pierced background behind them. The camera pans over the bodies and comes to stop on Ziegler. The bodies are then shown all around the old building and inside a jail cell, and the video closes with a close-up of Ziegler with tears streaming down her rainbow cheeks.
To anyone watching with the background knowledge of the club shooting, the messages are clear. The 49 dancers could be seen as the 49 victims of the shooting. The second set change seems to resemble Pulse. The bullet holes and the synchronized fall of the dancers symbolize the deadly attack. And the hashtag, put together with the all-child cast, seems to convey the idea that the victims themselves were children. No matter who they were, they were someone’s children.
Although Sia and her management have not released any statements confirming the video’s meaning, it obviously implies a powerful message. The video seems not only to be a chilling reenactment, but a tribute to the horrible events that occurred on the day of the tragic shooting.