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Sia’s movie ‘Music’ faces backlash from autism community

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Sia faces criticism for choosing her longtime collaborator Maddie Ziegler as an autistic teenager over a disabled actor for her upcoming musical film.

Pop singer / songwriter Sia faces social media criticism following the release of the trailer for her directorial debut, titled “Music,” on Thursday. In the inspiring musical drama, Sia introduces longtime collaborator Maddie Ziegler as a teenage girl with autism, and Twitter users were quick to slap Sia for failing to put a truly autistic person in the role, accusing the Grammy-nominated singer of ableism.

“Several autistic actors, including myself, responded to these tweets. We all said we could have acted on short notice. These excuses are just excuses, ” tweeted a user. “The point is, no effort has been made to include anyone with true autism. #NothingAboutUsWithoutUs »

“Maybe you’re just a bad actor,” Sia wrote in response.

Directed by Sia, “Music” is co-written by pop icon with Dallas Clayton, with Sia writing and performing all the songs. It’s slated for a theatrical release in IMAX in February. Star Ziegler is best known for her dance work in the majority of Sia’s music videos, from “Chandelier” to “Elastic Heart”.

“It’s a shame that someone with such a colossal platform is using it to exclude disabled and neuro-diverse actors from their own narratives,” another user tweeted. “I’ve been a fan of your work for a long time, so it’s really disappointing.”

Sia continued to defend herself, writing on Twitter, “Holy bullshit. You have no fucking idea because you weren’t there and you didn’t see the movie. She also pointed out that for the film, with Kate Hudson and Leslie Odom, Jr., she chose “thirteen neurotypical people, three trans people, and not like fucking prostitutes or drug addicts, but [sic] as doctors, nurses and singers. Damn sad no one even saw dang’s movie. My heart has always been in the right place.

At another point, Sia tweeted, “Grrrrrrrrrr. Holy shit why don’t you watch my movie before you judge it? FURY.”

Also on Thursday, Sia released the film’s first single, titled “Hey Boy,” which is a track from the soundtrack album that will accompany the film.

The plot of “Music” centers on Hudson as a newly sober drug dealer named Zu who ends up as the sole keeper of his autistic half-sister Music (Ziegler). Together, they overcome a myriad of obstacles in a film that explores community and solidarity.

Sia said she didn’t choose an actor with a disability because “throwing someone down to her functioning level was cruel, not nice, so I made the executive decision that we would do our best to portray with it. love the community. ”

Sia also added that she spent “three years” researching the film, which is also courting controversy due to Autism Speaks, whose reputation within the community is debated. Sia said the group came on board after the movie ended.

Representatives for “Sia” did not immediately respond to IndieWire’s request for comment.

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