Sia’s upcoming drama musical “Music” stars longtime collaborator Maddie Ziegler. Maddie plays the role of an autistic non verbal teenager. However Sia is facing backlash from many who say the pop star should have cast an autistic actor.
In Sia’s debut role as director, she faced abuse via twitter with many accusing the singer of ableism. Sia responded the flood of critics by saying she had 2 autistic collaborators. She had originally cast the role to a “beautiful young girl” who’s “nonverbal on the spectrum” before casting Ziegler, but the girl found the acting “unpleasant and stressful.”
Many tweeted their disappointment with yet another portrayal of the disabled community without including them.
“Incredibly disappointing to see yet another misrepresentation of nuerodivergent people”
Although it wasn’t all negative, many defending the artist.
“Your heart is in the right place thankyou for making this movie the world needed this” and
“Awesome looks good!”
Sia is also under attack for working with the organisation Autism Speaks. The organisation has been criticized for its polarising and exploitative viewpoints.
Sia fiercely defended the move to cast Zeigler in the role tweeting,
“Grrrrrrrrrr. Fuckity fuck why don’t you watch my film before you judge it? FURY.”
Many have defended Sia’s choice by asking where the uproar is to other similar movies. Movies like, Forest Gump, where Tom Hanks plays the role of an intellectually disabled person. And Rain Man, Dustin Hoffman’s role as an autistic sevant. Sia claiming that this is what actors do, play a part.
However the disabled community have had enough and want to be included in the narrative that involves them. They want to make a change in how they are being portrayed and for the film industry to be truly inclusive.
What are your thoughts, should an autistic actor have been cast instead of Zeigler?