We can all recall the horrific tragedy that unfolded in the gay night club, Pulse, in Orlando, Florida on June 12. The lives of innocent young men and women were abruptly ended by a coward holding a gun. Following the shooting, thousands of members of the LGBTQ community came together to make a stand for the lives that had been lost. LGBTQ communities from all over the country, as well as other concerned citizens created and organized tributes, fundraisers, protests, social media campaigns, etc. to urge awareness regarding the discrimination against all genders.
Singer/songwriter Sia made her own unique tribute to the victims of the Orlando shooting with the recent release of her music video, “The Greatest.” Released on September 6, 2016, “The Greatest” portrays a unique and emotional representation of the tragedy that the Orlando victims experienced. The Atlantic describes the video as “potent” and “a work of art.” Sia has not openly commented on the fact her video is a tribute.
The video begins with a close up of dancer Maddie Ziegler (who is featured in several other Sia music videos) painting rainbows on her cheeks as she wipes her hands down her face. Ziegler is accompanied by 48 other young dancers who represent the total 49 victims of the shooting.
The video creates somewhat of a storyline of what occurred that night in Orlando, and anyone watching will be sure to experience feelings of sympathy for those who lost their lives. The dancers featured in the video represent a bigger picture all together. They represent the struggle queer youths face when they come together to embrace their unique qualities and to simply embrace the joys of life and then are knocked down by people who discriminate against anyone that attempts to be different.
The bodies of the 48 other dancers are laying sprawled out throughout the building, Ziegler brings these bodies to life and they begin to dance their way into a room with a disco ball and rainbow lights, representing the nightclub. As the music begins to fade, each of the 49 dancers collapse to the floor, and we see a chilling image of bullet holes scattered on the surrounding walls.
The video concludes with another close up shot of Ziegler in tears. The video serves as an incredibly creative and unique approach to creating a bit of imagery for viewers to imagine the horror, fear and struggle of the discrimination that members of the LGBTQ community unfortunately have faced.
Sia herself is openly bisexual, announcing it via twitter in 2013.
“I’m queer. I say queer. I prefer it to all other labels,” Sia tweeted.
As Sia herself is a member of the LGBTQ community, it is safe to assume the occurrence of the shooting affected her emotionally, just as it did thousands of other Americans.
Kendrick Lamar has a verse in the song which unfortunately is not featured in the music video, but his words are strong and uplifting. He speaks to the fact that being different in our society can tear you down and break you apart. But to survive, you have to bring yourself back up and stand against the “haters.”
Several other artists have made their own unique tributes following the shooting. Indie-rocker Sharon Van Etten wrote a song in memory of the Orlando victims and also has a stance against gun violence.
“In the memory of those trying to be safe and be themselves, I hope we can all come together to help prevent another massacre like this and end gun violence,” said Van Etten.