Singer-songwriter Sia has has received further criticism following the release of her new controversial musical ‘Music’, starring Maddie Ziegler and Kate Hudson.
The creative decided to go ahead with the release of the film, despite receiving criticism in November following the broadcast of the trailer.
Despite the terrible stereotypes depicted of the autistic community, one benefit of this movie is that the resultant backlash and rise in conversation on social media has educated many on the realities of life for people with autism.
Distateful portrayal of autism
The portrayal of an autistic character in Music is nothing less than distasteful.
In the movie, Maddie Ziegler (who has worked with Sia since she was 11, first starring in the ‘Chandelier’ video), plays Music, an autistic child who falls into the care of her half sister, Zu (Kate Hudson).
The language at times is distasteful as a Music’s character is referred to as a ‘magical little girl’ which is demoralising and belittling.
It starts with Kate Hudson, as Sia laying on a bed saying “…there’s this magical little girl, your sister… all she’s got now, is you.”
Autistic folx aren’t your magical inspiration into another way to look at the world.
— ???? Guinevere (she/her) (@SatNiteParade) November 20, 2020
Zu begins to learn about Music’s daily routine alongside their neighbour Ebo (Leslie Odom Jr.). According to members and allies of the autistic community, the movie becomes more problematic from there.
Problems with depictions of “restraint” as a calming mechanism
The film, which you can stream now on YouTube and Google Play, depicts Music being restrained to calm her down, something the autistic community has strongly condemned on social media.
On a personal level – both research and (I won’t lie) Tik Tok, have proven useful in obtaining a basic understanding as to why this is the case; there have been multiple incidents where restraining an autistic person has proven the incorrect way to go.
Sadly in 2018 an autistic child named Max Benson passed away after he was restrained allegedly facedown for hours. He was only 13 years old.
Restraint is dangerous for autistic community, as an autistic person may find it difficult to tell you they cannot breath.
According to The Guardian, Music will now include a disclaimer at the beginning of the movie.
It will read: “MUSIC in no way condones or recommends the use of restraint on autistic people,
“There are autistic occupational therapists that specialize in sensory processing who can be consulted to explain safe ways to provide proprioceptive, deep-pressure feedback to help w meltdown safety.”
It has also angered the community knowing that not only did Sia work with Autism Speaks, an organisation that believes autism can be cured, but that Ziegler was chosen for the role over someone from the autistic community.
In the film, Ziegler, an able-bodied person, is seen portraying body movements of an autistic person, which is nothing short of offensive.
Recently it has been confirmed, even by Sia herself, that Ziegler (who was 14 at the time the production started) cried on set at the thought of upsetting or hurting people in the community.
Sia promised to Maddie she ‘wouldn’t let that happen.’
Here’s another clip of Sia admitting maddie was uncomfortable and didn’t want to do it. They pressured her into doing it anyways. pic.twitter.com/WmkBPOmoLj
— Mangata (@HiImMangata) February 13, 2021
It is suspected Maddie has a contract with the film and Sia, and was convinced that she should do the film by adults around her, though this is not confirmed.
It seems to be widespread opinion that Sia’s movie is a horrible distasteful depiction of the autistic community, and I personally think that is the last of such kind that we should see from Sia.
However, I think we can all learn from this; listen to those in the community – listen to their needs and be educated, because I know before this incident I wasn’t as aware of the need for such as I am now.
Let’s not make the same mistakes Sia did by choosing to make bad, uneducated, harmful decisions.
Have you seen Music? Does the addition of a disclaimer and knowing Maddie Ziegler was against the production change your opinion on it? Let us know @PieRadioUK