Photo by Merrick Morton/Vertical Entertainment
Singer/songwriter Sia created “Music,” a movie that has been under fire recently, and for good reason. This movie and Sia’s behavior reek of disrespect and could be offensive to autistic viewers.
“The movie is both a love letter to caregivers and to the autism community,” Sia said in a tweet, which was later deleted along with the entirety of her page.
“Music,” which came out Feb. 10, was Sia’s debut as a director, and Maddie Ziegler stars as the title character. Ziegler portrays a non-verbal, autistic teenager, named Music, who is faced with change when her grandmother dies, and her guardianship is placed in the hands of her half sister Zu (Kate Hudson). Zu struggles with her new responsibility and maintaining her sobriety, and she seeks guidance from a friendly neighbor, Ebo (Leslie Odom Jr.).
In the opening scene, Ziegler performs an interpretive dance to a song sung by Sia, making overly exaggerated and caricature facial expressions and movements that could be perceived as mockery.
The opening scene also features strobing lights and quick camera movements, and later in the movie, restraint is used against Music multiple times. However, Sia failed miserably to provide trigger warnings in any part of the movie.
Sia also partnered with Autism Speaks for the movie. Autism Speaks, although has changed it’s morals since the 2000s, has promoted harmful ideology in regard to autistic children and families. If Sia had actually collaborated with people on the autism spectrum, she would have found out that Autism Speaks was not the right organization for the message she was trying to send.
Before deleting her twitter page, Sia responded to people who had critical things to say about her film. Her responses included profane language and anger, which only made the controversy worse.
On top of everything, Sia added what seemed like a collection of music videos randomly sprinkled throughout the narrative, containing abstract color schemes and costumes, and it all felt like an elaborate plot to advertise and promote her new album. She also found a way to self-insert into the plot, playing herself, which came off as narcissistic, especially since it wasn’t relevant to the story or the overall message of the film.
The movie in combination with Sia’s behavior is completely unacceptable. The movie could’ve been one that could spread autism awareness and positivity; however, it missed that mark by a longshot. If Sia casted someone who was on the autism spectrum as the lead role, it might have been a more appreciated movie. Sia and the adult actors in the movie should be held responsible and apologize to the autistic community for partaking in the production of this awful, disrespectful movie.