Sia’s Movie “Music” Generates Controversy

Sophia Mannino, Staff Writer

Dancer Maddie Ziegler and musician Sia have worked together on projects since the 2014 “Chandelier” music video. Their latest collaboration “Music”, a movie directed by Sia, has caused much controversy throughout the disability community. In the film, Ziegler plays a young girl on the autism spectrum. Many believe the movie will lack authenticity because the main character is played by a neurotypical person. 

Since the release of the trailer, the movie has received both criticism and praise. When asked why she didn’t cast someone who experienced autism themself, Sia responded in a tweet saying she originally planned on it, but the person she cast experienced too much stress on set. This tweet has since been deleted and refuted with evidence of Sia saying that she wrote the movie for Maddie Ziegler specifically. 

Disabled people have been misrepresented in Hollywood for a long time. Many believe that Sia’s film uses the character with non-verbal autism as a tool to allow the main character, her neurotypical sibling Zu, to grow. Those who are a part of the autism community ask to be represented as real people, whose feelings and actions are their own, and not to be demeaned by stereotypes of their disability.

Before taking the role, Maddie Ziegler admitted she felt uncomfortable portraying a life she could not relate to. She explained to Sia that she did not want anyone to think she was making fun of them. Sia reassured her, saying how she’d protected Ziegler from any backlash. This, unfortunately, is not possible. 

With the release of the trailer, the National Autism Society tweeted, “@sia has got the one wrong. There are so many talented autistic actors out there”. The movie has brought the issue of disability representation to the awareness of the public. If nothing else, we can hope that the controversy inspires someone to do the autism community justice through accurate expression in art.