Sia was called up after posting a teaser for her upcoming movie The music. The film sees the artist making her directorial debut, but fans don’t like Maddie Ziegler playing the role of an autistic girl.
The teaser has seen backlash as people have shown disappointment that Sia has chosen Maddie Ziegler, who is neurotypical, as an autistic character.
As one Twitter user Tome Levi put it, “It’s such a shame that someone with such a colossal platform is using it to exclude disabled and neuro-diverse actors from their own narratives.
To which the artist replied: “I chose thirteen neurotypical people, three trans people, and not as fucking prostitutes or drug addicts, but as doctors, nurses and singers. Damn sad no one even saw dang’s movie. My heart has always been in the right place.
Sia went on to say, “I actually tried working with a beautiful non-verbal girl on the spectrum and she found it unpleasant and stressful. That’s why I chose Maddie.
To which more Twitter users have argued the artist should try to make the set and the actor’s experience more accessible.
Later, Sia tweeted, “Grrrrrrrrrr. Holy shit why don’t you watch my movie before you judge it? FURY.”
You can watch the trailer for the film, which stars Kate Hudson below, as well as some of the conversation around the film.
Hi Sia, can I ask you why you didn’t choose a disabled actor for this part? It’s quite shocking the way you chose to portray this character. People with disabilities are not broken and do not need to be fixed. A lot of my friends have different disabilities and they are among the –
– Bronagh Waugh (@bronaghwaugh) November 19, 2020
You spent 3 years researching and yet somehow you didn’t realize that something like this was a * spectacular * bad idea…? pic.twitter.com/hU98NJ1kzo
– Andrew James Carter (@Carter_AndrewJ) November 20, 2020
But using phrases like “special abilities,” choosing a non-disabled person to play a disabled person, and working with Autism Speaks are all very basic things that you would have known not to do if you had consulted adults with autism. So it’s frankly hard to believe.
– Laura Dorwart (@laurawritesit) November 20, 2020
Having an autistic character play by a neurotypical actor is like having a white actor playing a black character.
It is the black face of disability.
– Kiersten (@ kierstenedw4rds) November 20, 2020
Others defended Sia.
Sia, ignore them, please. Let them bark here. They are not worthy, they love to hate, that’s all. Remember Dustin Hoffman in Rain Man, Tom Hanks in Forrest Gump, Eddie Redmayne in The Theory of Everything! Focus on the Oscar you will win!
– Alina (@undersiaspell) November 20, 2020
Why do people slam her? Did they forget Forrest Gump? Leo Dicaprio plays Arnie in WEGG? This Charlie and the chocolate factory kid are literally playing the role of an autistic doctor right now. The culture of cancellation is so selective that it needs a bigger word than hypocrisy.
– horatio caine (@kaylakillshot) November 20, 2020