Sia Is Frustrated With The Backlash Her ‘Music’ Film Is Facing Due To An Autistic Character

Yesterday, Sia premiered the trailer for her upcoming film, Music, and in it, Maddie Ziegler portrays a character named Music who appears to be on the autism spectrum. This led to a large wave of backlash against the film and Sia, but she isn’t backing down from her casting choice. Furthermore, she appears to be frustrated with the criticisms, as she says she put in an effort to include people on the autism spectrum in the film.

One person on Twitter responded to the trailer, “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 replied by insisting that Ziegler wasn’t actually her first choice for the role, as she initially cast an actor who was on the autism spectrum, but it didn’t work out. She wrote, “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.” She wrote in another tweet that she actually tried casting multiple other actors before Ziegler: “My character was pretty low functioning and after attempting a few actors on the spectrum they suggested I use Maddie.”

Somebody else criticized Sia for not hiring more “disabled” people, and Sia replied, “I hired plenty of special abilities kids. I’m willing to be misunderstood because I think this movie does more good than harm.” She added in a response to another tweet, “I’ve never referred to music as disabled. Special abilities is what I’ve always said, and casting someone at her level of functioning was cruel, not kind, so I made the executive decision that we would do our best to lovingly represent the community.” Sia also tweeted elsewhere, “I cast thirteen neuroatypical people, three trans folk, and not as f*cking prostitutes or drug addicts but s as doctors, nurses and singers. F*cking sad nobody’s even seen the dang movie. My heart has always been in the right place.”

Furthermore, Sia also received some criticism for involving the organization Autism Speaks, which has been accused of not properly representing or working for people with autism. Sia wrote in response to that backlash, “Autism speaks came on board long after the film was finished, four years in fact. I had no idea it was such a polarizing group!”

Ultimately, Sia appears to be extremely frustrated by the situation, as she tweeted, “Grrrrrrrrrr. F*ckity f*ck why don’t you watch my film before you judge it? FURY.” In response to a tweet asking if she did any research about autism while making the movie, she replied, “Duh. I spent three f*cking years researching, I think that’s why I’m so f*cking bummed.”

Find more of Sia’s tweets about the situation here.

Sia is a Warner Music artist. Uproxx is an independent subsidiary of Warner Music Group.