Sia Gets Into Twitter Fight With Disability Advocates Following Backlash For Upcoming Film
The trailer for Sia’s directorial debut, “Music,” was released on Thursday and was met with a wave of criticism after an actor without autism was cast to play a character on the autism spectrum.
Performer and songwriter Sia is facing backlash after the first trailer for her forthcoming film, “Music,” showed an actor without autism portraying the main character, who has autism.
The trailer was released on Thursday and centers around the relationship between two half sisters. IMDb describes the character Music as “a young girl on the autism spectrum.” She is played by Sia’s longtime collaborator, dancer and actor Maddie Ziegler. The 44-year-old Sia co-wrote and directed the film, which also stars Kate Hudson and Leslie Odom, Jr., and is set to be released in 2021.
Sia got into several arguments with people on Twitter who criticized the film’s casting decision and the trailer for misrepresenting people with autism.
Several advocates for people with disabilities took issue with Ziegler’s casting, as she is not on the autism spectrum. Many accused Sia of ableism, which is described as “the discrimination of and social prejudice against people with disabilities based on the belief that typical abilities are superior,” according to the advocacy organization Access Living.
After several people tweeted at Sia criticizing the trailer and Ziegler’s casting, one person defended the director by saying, “the reasoning for the non autistic actor is that it was shot in just a few months and Sia didn’t want to pressure anyone.”
Others responded to the comment, including a Twitter user who said they are an actor with autism who would have “acted in it on short notice.” Sia replied, saying, “Maybe you’re just a bad actor.” The singer replied to the same person two more times, one time asserting that, “You have no f*cking idea because you weren’t there and haven’t seen the movie.”
Fucking bullshit. You have no fucking idea because you weren’t there and haven’t seen the movie.— sia (@Sia) November 20, 2020
I’m sorry we were never introduced. My character was pretty low functioning and after attempting a few actors on the spectrum they suggested I use Maddie.— sia (@Sia) November 20, 2020
Sia responded to several other tweets, including one person who asked why she didn’t cast a person who has autism. Sia said she did initially cast an actor with autism who was non-verbal, but the actor “found it extremely stressful and overwhelming.” She also told one person it would have been “cruel, not kind” to cast someone at the character’s “level of functioning.”
Sia also tweeted that she spent three years researching for the movie and that there are thirteen neurotypical people in the movie as well as two people on the autism spectrum advising her at all times.
I agree. I’ve never referred to music as disabled. Special abilities is what I’ve always said, and casting someone at her level of functioning was cruel, not kind, so I made the executive decision that we would do our best to lovingly represent the community.— sia (@Sia) November 20, 2020
Duh. I spent three fucking years researching, I think that’s why I’m so fucking bummed.— sia (@Sia) November 20, 2020
I cast thirteen neuroatypical people, three trans folk, and not as fucking prostitutes or drug addicts but s as doctors, nurses and singers. Fucking sad nobody’s even seen the dang movie. My heart has always been in the right place.— sia (@Sia) November 20, 2020
Grrrrrrrrrr. Fuckity fuck why don’t you watch my film before you judge it? FURY.— sia (@Sia) November 20, 2020
Sia attempted to defend the movie and her casting decision. “Please give us a chance. Our intentions are good, meaningful, loving,” she said. But many people expressed their frustration and disappointment.
I loved @Sia's music so much. I'm floored by her response to actually autistic actors upset+angry by her disabled caricature+cripping up in her video.— Lydia X. Z. Brown (@autistichoya) November 20, 2020
In what universe is this even remotely OK.
There is a REASON disabled people are so underrepresented in entertainment/the arts. https://t.co/Sn5SlClnSQ
*Puts on David Attenborough Voice*— Sarah Boon (@Saraheboon) November 20, 2020
”Here we have the neurotypicals wanting to be ’saviours’ for the autistics, but alas they Infantilised and poorly mimicked the autistics instead. Yet again the autistics are disappointed but not surprised by the neurotypicals’ ignorance.” https://t.co/wHBQ0ZQ60K
This is totally unacceptable and there are no excuses, you should know better than to allow able bodied & neurotypical to represent the disabled community. It's incredibly offensive as is the infantalisation of the character. Sickened. And not even captioned. Don't release this.— Jordana Golbourn (@JordanaGol) November 20, 2020
So Sia's trailer for her movie Music came out and people did have some concerns about it. That is misrepresents austism, neurodivergent people, disabled people etc. And Sia handled the reception of the trailer in a very poor and childish manor. Like....wow. pic.twitter.com/eElyVLu2or— WolfWitch (@WolfFlufffy) November 20, 2020
To be quite honest, not even a PR team could help Sia with this because they don’t know how to interact with the disability community and their only goal is to appease nondisabled people.— Crutches&Spice ♿️ : Rude For A Disabled Person (@Imani_Barbarin) November 20, 2020