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Sia Accused Of Ableism Over Her New Film About Autism After Casting Non-Autistic Actor

Kevin Winter/BBMA2020/Getty Images for dcp

One major takeaway from the past decade of Hollywood is representation matters.

When dealing with stories surrounding people in certain marginalized communities—such as LGBTQ+, people of color, or disabled people—it is important to have those characters played by actors that are members of those communities.

For decades, those communities’ stories were not told. And actors and artists from those communities were not hired for any roles because of their identities.

Sia’s new film, Music, features an autistic character.  Maddie Ziegler portrays this character.

Ziegler is not autistic.

Immediately, Sia’s casting choice inspired backlash across the internet.

Sia did not take too kindly to the backlash, responding to almost every single criticism to try and justify her decisions.

Sia also involved the charity group “Autism Speaks” with the film, four years after its completion.

“Autism Speaks” is a charity under scrutiny because it has no autistic leadership and is often cited by autism activists as actively harmful to the autistic community.

 

“Autism Speaks” is also heavily intertwined with the anti-vaccine movement, which erroneously claimed autism can be “cured” and endorsed several debilitating and even deadly treatments against autistic people.

The disappointment expressed by the autistic community in Sia is palpable, despite her claims that all of her choices were made out of love and respect.

She continues to tweet her disquiet with being challenged, saying:

“Grrrrrrrrrr. F***ity f*** why don’t you watch my film before you judge it? FURY.”

But the autistic community doesn’t feel heard in their challenges to Sia’s excuses.

They’re urging a boycott of the film.

Mike Walsh

Written by Mike Walsh

Mike is a writer, dancer, actor, and singer who recently graduated with his MFA from Columbia University. Mike's daily ambitions are to meet new dogs and make new puns on a daily basis. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram @mikerowavables.