Sia Speaks Autism: Sia Goes To War With The Autism Community

Sia Speaks Autism: Pop singer Sia has been heavily criticized for casting a teen dancing sensation – and neurotypical actor- for the lead role of a non-verbal autistic girl in the movie she wrote and directed, ‘MUSIC’. The singer took to respond to the backlash on Twitter and it is apparent from her tweets and replies that she is absolutely furious.

Sia’s blatant disregard for the feelings of the autism community about her new movie just confirms the already known fact that Hollywood hasn’t quite learned the most important lessons about disability and privilege. Over the years, films and shows depicting the experiences of disabled people have become instant award baits. It’s a shame that most of these award-winning works have able-bodied and neurotypical casts. 

If you’re not one of those who scroll through Twitter and entertainment tabloids at all hours of the day and are wondering just what exactly the ‘Chandelier’ singer has done to offend the Autism community, this article is for you.

 For those less familiar with the artist, Sia became largely known in 2014 when she broke through as a solo recording artist with her sixth studio album, 1000 Forms of Fear, and later gained immense popularity with her song ‘Cheap Thrills’. Since then, Sia has usually worn a wig that obscures her face to defend herself from the ‘dark side of fame’ and to protect her privacy. She also added that it helped in giving a touch of mystery to her performances.

Sia’s masked look on the Red Carpet

Sia Speaks Autism: The dispute over Sia’s newest project 

Last week, Sia announced that her new film, Music, which stars Kate Hudson and her mini-me, Maddie Ziegler, is set for theatrical release in February 2021. Although she has been receiving not-so-supportive feedback from the autism community ever since the very first time she opened up about her idea, she decided to go through with her project.

When asked about her thoughts, Sia explained her creative input by saying: “The movie is both a love letter to caregivers and to the autism community. I have my own unique view of the community and felt it is underrepresented and compelled to make it. If that makes me shit, I’m a shit. But my intentions are awesome.”

The community did in fact not perceive the movie as a love letter and the entire situation did not sit right with many both within and outside of the ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder) community. 

Healthcare Advocate Kendall Brown believes that Sia shouldn’t be writing about disability at all

Sia Speaks Autism: About The Film 

Music is a musical film that follows Zu (Hudson), a newly sober drug dealer and self-saboteur who finds herself the sole guardian of her teenage autistic half-sister, Music (Ziegler). Being a free spirit who is barely able to take care of herself, she finds it hard to take on the responsibility of her sister as well. the plot follows their struggles and newfound obstacles as they try to navigate their lives with the help of their neighbor, Ebo (Odom).

The catch is that Maddie Ziegler is a neuro-typical teen, and upon questioning why an autistic actor wasn’t cast, Sia responded that she did try to work with a non-verbal autistic girl but said girl found it very overwhelming and stressful. People believe Sia didn’t try hard enough to find a proper cast or even accommodate the needs of autistic actors.

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On Twitter, several activists and people from the concerned community tried to reason with Sia and requested that changes are made or the entire movie be canceled, but Sia stuck to what she believed to be right and shut down criticisms. 

People from several neurotypicals as well as neurodivergent communities and their loved ones have continued to speak out on the film’s display of offensive stereotypes and visual effects.  They, too, tried to reason with Sia but she stuck to what she believed to be ‘not a big deal’ and completely disregarded the feelings shown to her. Petitions to cancel Sia’s movie have been gaining support too.

But it seems as though Sia has no plans to do anything of that sort, despite the backlash and heavy criticism thrown her way.

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