Sia Responds to Backlash Over Portrayal of Autism in New Film

Lawrence Kim
November 22, 2020

Pop singer-songwriter Sia, who is known for hits such as 'Chandelier' and for concealing her identity with larger-than-life wigs has hit back at critics after facing flak for not casting an autistic actress in her debut film Music, which is about a girl with the condition. Here's all the drama explained. The film was immediately met with dismay by people with disabilities who took issue with the portrayal of autism. "So that's why I cast Maddie". She also stated that she performed three years of research for the movie and had autistic people advising her throughout production.

"One person added to a thread of criticism, identifying themselves as an autistic actor who would have gladly acted in the movie" on short notice.

She said she did try "working with a handsome young girl non-verbal on the spectrum and she found it unpleasant and stressful".

Later, Sia tweeted, "Grrrrrrrrrr".

Imani Barbarin, a woman with cerebral palsy who regularly tweets about living with a disability, expressed her concerns on Twitter: "She produced a film peddling a harmful stereotype of disabled people and refused to cast a disabled person to play a disabled person", she wrote.

"Hi Sia, can I ask why you didn't cast a disabled actor for this part?" "I'm a disabled person and am not offended by the premise of your film".

Sia became involved in a public debate over the representation of autistic people in the film, responding: "why don't you watch my film before you judge it?"

Despite Sia's continuous efforts to educate people about the true meaning of the film, many fans have "cancelled" her on Twitter following the trailer release.

The trailer introduces Music (Ziegler), a nonverbal autistic teenager who uses a tablet to communicate her feelings to others, her neighbor Ebo (Odom Jr.), and Music's half-sister and guardian Zu (Hudson).

One person said: "People got too much time on their hands and love to make drama out of everything. It's called acting for a reason and shows getting cancelled because someone isn't trans or autistic is killing our diminishing arts scene", said another.

Sia herself has responded to the matter in several posts, claiming that she felt it was "more compassionate to use Maddie" than an autistic actor and that she "did try" to cast them for her film. What next? Only an actual serial killer can play Ted Bundy, Zac Efron must be cancelled?

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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