Sia's New Movie "Music" Is Here And Its Portrayal Of People With Autism Is Not OK

    "It's not representation, it's not informative, and it's not helpful."

    This week, Sia's movie Music was released in select theaters and on streaming platforms, like YouTube.

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    The film follows a recently sober woman, played by Kate Hudson, who becomes the guardian of her half-sister, Music, who is autistic. Music is played by Sia's longtime collaborator, dancer Maddie Ziegler.

    As soon as the trailer was released in November, it garnered significant backlash for casting an able-bodied, neurotypical actor (Ziegler) to play someone with autism:

    @Sia @leslieodomjr @maddieziegler This is totally unacceptable and there are no excuses, you should know better than to allow able bodied & neurotypical to represent the disabled community. It's incredibly offensive as is the infantalisation of the character. Sickened. And not even captioned. Don't release this.

    Sia responded to the backlash, saying, "I actually tried working with a beautiful young girl, non-verbal on the spectrum, and she found it unpleasant and stressful. So that’s why I cast Maddie."

    A few people called out Sia, saying, "We all said we could have acted in it on short notice. These excuses are just that — excuses. The fact of the matter is zero effort was made to include anyone who is actually autistic." Sia responded with this:

    Earlier this month, more backlash ensued after a scene leaked, showing Ziegler's character being held in a prone restraint:

    @Sia An awfully strange "love letter" it is to promote restraints that have literally killed autistic people...

    Sia eventually deleted her Twitter account after this wave of backlash.

    Well now that the controversial movie has been released, reviews from critics, the autism community, and others are out, and well, they're not great.

    One person called out the movie's offensive portrayal of self-stimulatory behavior, or "stimming."

    I've said a lot about how awful this movie is and how disgusting sia is for making it but this really sucks shit. I've always been self conscious of the way I move my hands to music when I'm stimming or trying to stay calm and this makes me feel like a freak.

    the way sia's movie "portrays" autistic stimming literally looks like how bullies at school make fun of autistic people. it's not representation, it's not informative, and it's not helpful. it's disgusting. she claims to have educated herself on autism, it's clear she hasn't

    Twitter: @immunititties

    This person had some choice words to describe the film:

    I'm so happy to see threads about Sia's "Music" going viral. It's just a vile, shitty, ableist, garbage movie, and people need to know that. I doubt this will do much in the long run re: disability/autism rep (this conversation has happened so much...), but I'll take it for now.

    Twitter: @Stardust2187

    But yeah, in general, the film was just all-around poorly received:

    Oh my god “Music” is SO FUCKING BAD. She thought THIS was “a love letter”? She thought THIS was “a voice for the voiceless?” I feel physically ill, I’m on the brink of tears. Is this REALLY how the world sees us? Fuck Sia and her disgusting fucking “autism” movie. Fuck.

    @ThatRangeThoGRZ / Twitter: @ThatRangeThoGRZ

    I am beyond disappointed. Disgusted really. She obviously did no research at all on Autism, nor did she think hey, maybe I should actually get someone who is autistic to play the part. That was a terrible representation of the Autism. The Sia Movie, Music, is Trash.

    Twitter: @realprettymama

    And according to review aggregator site Rotten Tomatoes, the film so far holds a 17% rating, which is considered "rotten."

    Although Sia's Twitter is still deactivated, we will keep an eye out if she comes back and addresses the criticism and then update you.