Sia’s Tone Deaf “Music” Sparks Controversy



  Sia released her movie trailer for her film “Music” that features a non-verbal autistic character, played by a neurotypical actress. This has led many autism activists, and people with autism themselves to speak out about ableism in the entertainment industry, and how Sia is not exempt to it. The singer-songwriter who is directing the film, casted Maddie Ziegler to portray the neurodivergent character. 


People have called this choice hypocritical, since the movie is built off an autistic storyline, and yet lacks any autistic direction. This is especially clear in how the director initially started working with an autistic actress for the role, but dropped her because she found the environment too “stressful and overwhelming”. Critics suggest that she should have kept searching for an actor on the spectrum who would better fit the environment, or adjust the environment itself to make an actor with autism feel more comfortable. 


This behaviour directly contributes to the unfair treatment of autistic people, and the stereotypes they face. Hannah Marshall, an autistic autism rights activist asked for the movie to be canceled for the “inaccurate and hurtful portrayal of the community”. A petition was posted to and further disapproval for the film spread across social media platforms including Twitter, Instagram, and TikTok.  


Paige Layle, an autistic autism awareness TikToker shared her thoughts in a video posted on November 21st. She criticized Sia for “putting [them] up for show… for entertainment purposes”, and how the autistic community is “sick of not being included” in things that directly involve them. 


The film is set to release February 2021, and while no response has been issued regarding refilming or cancellation, Sia herself responded to the backlash in a rather aggressive manner. She called the response to her trailer “f—ing bull—t” and how critics “have no f—ing idea because [they] weren’t there and haven’t seen the movie”. The overwhelming disapproval for the movie makes it clear that “Music” will not do well if the film is released, and if no action taken to include, or better represent the autistic community.