The film is set to release February 2021 and has been met with major criticism due to the casting of dancer Maddie Ziegler, who depicts the main character despite not having autism. Critics of the film call it ‘disappointing and offensive’ as they failed to cast an autistic actress in the part.
The 44 year old singer responded back to critics defending her executive decision to cast Ziegler in the film referring to casting someone with autism as “cruel, not kind.”
Sia wrote and directed Music, which stars Kate Hudson and Leslie Odom, Jr, and tells the story of the autistic teen, who, due to unforetold circumstances, ends up in the care of her drug-dealer half-sister Zu, played by Kate.
The issue critics have with Sia is her inability to see the dire need for the film industry to work towards inclusivity for autistic people in media. Twitter users continued to question Sia’s decisions to not cast an autistic actress.
There were several angry tweets from fans which read:
‘The trailer is supposed to be putting the film’s best foot forward, also it’s hard to ignore that the main actress doesn’t have the disability she’s portraying :/ i’m a big fan of you but it’s just disappointing to see…
‘Autistic people are real and there are autistic actors whose jobs are being taken by non-autistic actors. your comparison is s**tty and frankly offensive…
‘WORK WITH AUTISTIC PEOPLE.. CAST AN AUTISTIC PERSON! FOR F**K’S SAKES!…
‘Hi Sia, can I ask why you didn’t cast a disabled actor for this part? It’s pretty offensive the way you’ve chosen to portray this character… People with disabilities are not broken and don’t need fixing. Many of my friends have different disabilities’.
Sia responded with a slew of tweets revealing that 13 cast members were neuratypical or trans defending thoughts that the film lacked diversity and inclusion.
Several Twitter users asked if the singer managed to research or consult the autistic community before releasing the film as they felt her efforts and responses were condescending to say it would be cruel to consult or work with a disabled actor.
She responded in a rather feisty manner that she did her due diligence to research the community in which she wanted to depict in her upcoming film.
Charity organization, Autism Speaks, began to trend this morning after the conversations surrounding Sia’s new film. Many users criticize the organization’s efforts to support the community that they aim to represent.
Twitter users criticize her dealings with the organization. She adds that the charity organization Autism Speaks worked alongside her in the movie saying that “Autism speaks came on board long after the film was finished, four years in fact. I had no idea it was such a polarizing group!”
Sia’s claims of supporting an underrepresented community and researching the group before filming seem to be a bit misleading after fans share their own research. There are others who are apart of the community who did not take offense to the premise of the film and actually showed their support for the singer. Many are interested in first seeing the film before making any presumptuous criticisms.
Though Sia was met with warranted criticism for the underrepresentation throughout the film, she begs fans and critics to first watch the film before judging it.
It’s interesting because just this year a young filmmaker, Nina Lee recently casted a girl with down syndrome in her upcoming film Artistic. Castings were posted over the Internet and casting sites to find the perfect person to fit the lead role. Nina worked tirelessly to find a disabled actress to play the part. The film follows a girl with down syndrome who befriends her neighborhood drug dealer.
Sounds painstakingly familiar to Sia’s latest depiction. It also shows that there is more work to be done in film and television to represent more diverse groups of people on screen. Younger women filmmakers and writers are making it a priority to do so while seasoned veterans in the industry seem to overlook the work that needs to be done.