Were Sia and Maddie Zigler insulting in ‘Music’? Autistic people speak out
The film Music starring Kate Hudson & Maddie Ziegler was called out for being controversial & insulting. The film was a moment for Autistic actors to have their time to shine, but it didn’t look like singer & producer Sia saw it that way.
The film Music is about a woman named Zuzu (Kate Hudson) who struggles to look after herself, but is suddenly called home to look after her younger sister Music (Maddie Ziegler). Luckily with the help of their friendly neighbor Ebo (Leslie Odom Jr.) they find a way to make their difficult situation work.
In November 2020, many members of the autistic community created online petitions to get the film removed. However, these petitions failed and the film went ahead with the premiere.
Variety noted that one of the petition creators, Hannah Marshall: “As an autistic individual . . . It is extremely offensive to myself and other autistic individuals. Sia has shown no remorse for her inaccurate and hurtful betrayal of the community.”
Sia claimed the film is about appreciating caregivers and especially the autism community. Variety noted that Sia created the film with a “unique view” of the autistic community and if she happened to underrepresent that wasn’t her intention. The singer has owned up to her mistake, but told fans her original intentions for the film was truly “awesome”.
Music’s Maddie Ziegler
“Smile” singer Sia received a huge amount of criticism over the last few months for her film Music, but most importantly for Maddie Ziegler’s role as the young autistic teen. Twitter is furious with the singer for casting the professional dancer Ziegler instead of an autistic actress.
Despite the criticism, Sia wasn’t afraid to defend Maddie Ziegler’s role in Music. As Variety reported, Sia expressed: “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.”
Sia further explained: “Casting someone at (the autistic) level of functioning was cruel, not kind, so I made the executive decision that would do our best to lovingly represent the community . . . I did try.”
I’m watching Sia’s movie, in order to write a detailed & chronological review (so that nobody else watches it out of curiosity).
But for now, I just want the public to see a few things that speak for themselves, starting with this image: pic.twitter.com/jPqtd5tLOz
— The Autisticats (@autisticats) February 12, 2021
It’s not just Maddie Ziegler playing the autistic character Music, but rather it’s representation of the community itself. Deadline reported that the film’s portrayal of autism was “offensive” & “inaccurate”. Therefore the American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD) encouraged all cinephiles not to watch Sia’s Music.
The Austisticats tweeted that they’re only watching Sia’s film (Music) so that other people don’t have to. But what was most interesting about the tweet was the image of Maddie Ziegler (Music) posing in a very controversial way with eyes pointed towards the ceiling and her bucked teeth.
Twitter users have also pointed out that Music isn’t the only film to have a character with a disability. In fact, many films “if portrayed accurately” could possibly thrive. Such as Theory of Everything & Forrest Gump’s perfect portrayal. So why did ‘Music’ flop so bad?
Sia has recently apologized for the portrayal of the film after it received two Golden Globe nominations. According to The Rolling Stone, Sia expressed “I’m sorry . . . I plan to remove the restraint scenes from all future printings. I listened to the wrong people and that is my responsibility, my research was clearly not thorough enough, not wide enough.”
The film won’t recast Maddie Ziegler, but Music’s director Sia stated that an official warning for audiences will be added saying: “Music in no way condones or recommends the use of restraint on autistic people. There are autistic occupational therapists that specialize in sensory processing who can be consulted to explain safe ways to provide proprioceptive, deep-pressure feedback to help w(sic) meltdown safety.”
Do you think Music will win a Golden Globe after all the critiques? Let us know in the comments below.