Culture Trips

Sia apologises over autism depiction in her movie Music | Film

Sia, the musician whose debut film earned two Golden Globe nominations on Wednesday, has addressed concerns about the movie’s depiction of autism.

Writing on her Twitter account, which she shortly afterwards deleted, the artist said that she has “been listening” to the criticism surrounding the film’s portrayal of a nonverbal autistic person, played by Maddie Ziegler, who does not have autism.

She said the film will now be preceded with a warning that reads: “Music in no way condones or recommends the use of restraint on autistic people. 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 with meltdown safety.”

She then tweeted: “I’m sorry,” and said she plans to remove the restraint scenes from future prints. “I listened to the wrong people,” she said, “and that is my responsibility, my research was clearly not thorough enough, not wide enough.”

This week, Music was the surprise recipient of two Golden Globe nominations: one in the best musical or comedy category and one for lead actress Kate Hudson.

Last November, Sia first engaged online with autism rights activists who felt she was approaching the condition from the perspective of a neurotypical person, as was her leading performer.

At that time, Sia remained robust in her defence of the film, writing: “The movie is both a love letter to caregivers and to the autism community. I have my own unique view of the community, and felt it is underrepresented and compelled to make it. If that makes me a shit I’m a shit, but my intentions are awesome.”

A petition asking for the film to be cancelled subsequently gained more than 17,000 signatures, and the petition page was flooded with responses from people unhappy at both Sia’s approach in the film and her “lack of remorse”.

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