In Sia’s directorial debut, Ziegler, an 18-year-old actress and dancer, plays a nonverbal autistic woman, even though she is neurotypical or not on the spectrum.
The trailer for “Music,” which also stars Kate Hudson and Leslie Odom, Jr., faced a backlash on Twitter after its release Thursday.
“Sigh. Yet another example of Hollywood picking a non-disabled actor to play a disabled character. When making an autism movie, hire #ActuallyAutistic people to work on it,” tweeted Margaux Joffe, an advocate for the autism. handicap.
Marc Malkin, culture editor at Variety, said that for most of Hollywood history, actors who actually have disabilities have not been portrayed in movies or on television.
“This is the next frontier where it’s time for Hollywood to start throwing disabled people,” he said.
Sia has since responded to criticism by stating “two people on the spectrum [advised] me ”and that the cast was“ neurodiverse ”.
She also said she tried working with a “beautiful young girl” who is “nonverbal on the spectrum” before cramming Ziegler in but the girl found the game “unpleasant and stressful”.
Zoe Gross, the director of operations for the Autistic Self Advocacy Network, called the pop artist’s comments “condescending.”
“It really speaks to a sort of patronizing view of autism and the idea that we don’t understand our own lives and that we shouldn’t be the people telling our own stories,” Gross said.
It is one of many examples of a once marginalized community sidelined by a film industry aware of the need for representation.
In 2018, after criticism from activists, Scarlett Johansson finally pulled out of a movie in which she was cast as a transgender man.
And in 1989, Dustin Hoffman won an Oscar for playing a character called “autistic scientist” in “Rain Man”.
Sia’s movie “Music” is slated for release in early 2021.
“I believe this film is beautiful, will create more good than bad and if I’m wrong I’ll pay for it for the rest of my life,” she tweeted.
I believe this film is beautiful, will create more good than harm and if I’m wrong I’ll pay for it for the rest of my life.
– be (@Sia) November 20, 2020
Sia did not respond to “Good Morning America” request for comment.
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