Sia has been called out after releasing a teaser from her upcoming film Music. The film sees the artist make her directorial debut, but fans aren’t keen on Maddie Ziegler playing the role of a girl who has autism.
The teaser has seen backlash as people have shown disappointment in Sia casting Maddie Ziegler, who is neurotypical, as a character who has autism.
As one Twitter user, Tome Levi said, “It’s a mighty shame that someone with such a colossal platform is using it to exclude disabled and neuro diverse actors from their own narratives.”
To which the artist replied, “I cast thirteen neurotypical people, three trans folk, and not as fucking prostitutes or drug addicts but s as doctors, nurses and singers. Fucking sad nobody’s even seen the dang movie. My heart has always been in the right place.”
Sia went on to say, “I actually tried working with a a beautiful young girl non verbal on the spectrum and she found it unpleasant and stressful. So that’s why I cast Maddie.”
To which more Twitter users argued the artist should try and make the set and the actor’s experience more accessible.
Later, Sia tweeted, “Grrrrrrrrrr. Fuckity fuck why don’t you watch my film before you judge it? FURY.”
You can watch the trailer for the film, which stars Kate Hudson below, along with some of the conversation around the film.
Hi Sia, can I ask why you didn't cast a disabled actor for this part? It's pretty offensive the way you've chosen to portray this character. People with disabilities are not broken and don't need fixing. Many of my friends have different disabilities and they are some of the —
— Bronagh Waugh (@bronaghwaugh) November 19, 2020
You spent 3 years researching and yet somehow didn't realise something like this was a *spectacularly* bad idea…? pic.twitter.com/hU98NJ1kzo
— Andrew James Carter (@Carter_AndrewJ) November 20, 2020
But using phrases like “special abilities,” casting a nondisabled person to play a disabled person, and working with Autism Speaks are all very very basic things you’d have known not to do if you’d consulted any autistic adults at all. So that’s frankly hard to believe.
— Laura Dorwart (@laurawritesit) November 20, 2020
Having a neurotypical actor play a character with autism is the same as having a white actor play a black character.
This is the blackface of disability.
— Kiersten (@kierstenedw4rds) November 20, 2020
Others defended Sia.
Sia, ignore them, please. Let them bark here. They are not worthy, they just love to hate, that's all. Remember Dustin Hoffman in Rain Man, Tom Hanks in Forrest Gump, Eddie Redmayne in The Theory of Everything! Focus on the Oscar you'll win!
— Alina (@undersiaspell) November 20, 2020
Why are people slamming her? Did they forget about Forrest Gump? Leo Dicaprio playing Arnie in WEGG? That Charlie and the chocolate factory kid is literally playing an autistic doctor right now. Cancel culture is so selective it needs a word bigger than hypocrisy.
— horatio caine (@kaylakillshot) November 20, 2020