Amid backlash from autism community, Sia adds disclaimer to ‘Music,’ deletes Twitter account

The movie features scenes with Maddie Ziegler’s autistic character “Music” being restrained as a means to calm her down — something advocates have condemned.

SHARE Amid backlash from autism community, Sia adds disclaimer to ‘Music,’ deletes Twitter account
In this screen shot, Sia speaks at the 2021 virtual HFPA Women Breaking Barriers Sundance Panel during the 2021 Sundance Film Festival in January.

In this screen shot, Sia speaks at the virtual HFPA Women Breaking Barriers Sundance Panel during the 2021 Sundance Film Festival in January.

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Sia’s new film “Music” — which received two Golden Globe nominations on Wednesday — will now include a disclaimer before it starts as backlash from the autism community has mounted against it. 

The movie features scenes with Maddie Ziegler’s autistic character “Music” being restrained as a means to calm her down — something advocates have condemned. Ziegler’s casting also angered the community as many had hoped to see an autistic actor in the role rather than a neurotypical person.

“MUSIC in no way condones or recommends the use of restraint on autistic people,” the disclaimer will read, according to Variety and The Guardian. “There are autistic occupational therapists that specialize in sensory processing who can be consulted to explain safe ways to provide proprioceptive, deep-pressure feedback to help w meltdown safety.”

Sia, who has since deleted her Twitter account, apologized and said the scenes will be removed “from all future printings,” and that she “listened to the wrong people and that is my responsibility, my research was clearly not thorough enough, not wide enough.” 

USA TODAY has reached out to Sia, the film and the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA) for comment.

Zoe Gross, Director of Advocacy at the Autistic Self Advocacy Network, said in a statement: “MUSIC doesn’t just promote harmful stereotypes about autistic people – it shows restraints that have killed members of our community as necessary and loving acts. This film should never have been made, and it shouldn’t be shown.”

Guy Stephens, founder and executive director of the Alliance Against Seclusion and Restraint, echoed those sentiments. 

“Physical restraint is dangerous and can lead to significant trauma, serious injuries, and even death,” he said. “There are far better ways to work with people that need compassion and support.”

The movie, out next week, is Golden Globe-nominated for best motion picture, musical or comedy. Kate Hudson, who play’s Music’s older sister, is up for best actress in a musical or comedy.

Social media users criticized singer Sia last year for not casting someone on the autism spectrum to play an autistic character, though she doubled down on her decision at the time.

“Several autistic actors, myself included ... We all said we could have acted in it on short notice. These excuses are just that- excuses,” @HelenAngel wrote on Twitter. “The fact of the matter is zero effort was made to include anyone who is actually autistic.”

“Maybe you’re just a bad actor,” Sia wrote back. In another reply to the same tweet, she wrote: “You have no (expletive) idea because you weren’t there and haven’t seen the movie.” 

The singer-songwriter has heaped praise on 18-year-old Ziegler, an alum of Lifetime’s “Dance Moms.” Sia says the teen poured her heart into the role of Music, careful to portray the character in a respectful way.

The two previously worked together on Sia’s single “Chandelier.”

She regretted her response to criticisms later. ”Looking back, I should have just shut up; I know that now,” she told Australia’s the Sydney Morning Herald.

Read more at usatoday.com

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