In the video for the song “Elastic Heart,” LaBeouf and the young dancer, who appears in the reality TV show “Dance Moms,” are both inside a large cage. Their interpretive dance style is at times unhurried, while the pace picks up at other times and becomes frenetic and suggestive of conflict. Both dancers roll around on the ground and sometimes wrestle.
The singer herself admitted she expected the video would elicit such a reaction. In her tweeted apology she said the video was an attempt to portray the two “warring” Sia states.
The video was posted to YouTube on Wednesday. As of Thursday night, it had been viewed more than 7.3 million times. Some viewers were disturbed at seeing a grown man dancing and having body contact with a girl and others found nothing wrong with the performance.
“So wait...a child and a man doing interpretive dance is (pedophilic)? Never heard such nonsense in my life. If it were a woman and a boy there would be none of this namecalling,” one poster wrote.
“GREAT VIDEO!!!,” another added. “I see nothing wrong with this. Maybe there is something wrong with the perverts who are thinking wrong!!!!!!!!!!! GET YOUR MIND OUT OF THE GUTTER AND APPRECIATE ART!!!”
Another defender had a more detailed explanation: “This is about Sia's relationship with herself, and the internal struggles she has faced her whole life. She said so herself. It's nothing sexual between Maddie and Shia, they are simply acting. The fact that that's the first thing that comes to mind when you watch a video like this says something about you, not Sia. This is art. It's not meant to have a clear message and it's open to interpretation. That's what makes Sia's music and music videos so powerful.”
Many viewers weren’t as understanding.
“I think it would feel awkward dancing with an old man with almost no clothes on .-.” another viewers said.
“Pedophilic. Pedophile. Sexually sugestive. Adult & child. Creepy. Twisted. Not ok,” another added.
Maddie Zeigler first wowed fans as a cropped-haired alter ego in the video for Sia's Grammy-nominated hit "Chandelier." When Maddie recreated the video live on "Jimmy Kimnmel Live!," Sia, who no longer shows her face in public, sang in the corner with her back to the audience.
Last year, the 39-year-old singer explained to ABC News why she is uncomfortable in the spotlight.
"I've been writing pop songs for pop stars now for a couple of years and have become, you know, friends with them and see what their life is like," she said. "And it's, that's just not something I want."
ABC News reached out to LaBeouf and Maddie and her family, but they declined to comment.