Sia’s new film Music faces backlash from the autism community

Sia’s first film Music creates a mockery of those with autism.

Photo from Wikipedia, property of Vertical Entertainment

Sia’s first film Music creates a mockery of those with autism.

Jaelyn Decena, A&E Editor

Sia’s new film Music quickly had people talking for the wrong reasons after its release on Feb. 10. 

The film quickly faced backlash as the film stars Maddie Ziegler as a young girl named Music, who happens to be on the autism spectrum.

Music’s older half-sister Zu, played by Kate Hudson, is recently sober, and quickly has to adapt to a mature life as Music’s new guardian. With the help of her neighbor Ebo Odom, played by Leslie Odom Jr., Zu experiences life with new meaning alongside her sister Music.

While Sia claims the film is a tribute to the autism community, it quickly becomes apparent that the film is none other than a tribute to her own “creativity.” If Music is a dedication to the autism community, then it’s important to find out how advocates for those with autism view the film.

The Autisticats, a Twitter page where young people share their experience living with autism, share their insight to why the film is offensive. 

“This performance is a caricature of autistic body language. It’s unsettling, and insincere. And it is deeply reminiscent of the exaggerated mannerisms non-autistic people often employ when bullying autistic and developmentally disabled people for the ways we move,” said the account in one of their tweets.

Featuring an actress to play the role of someone with autism is the exact problem with Hollywood. People will often call for inclusivity, yet proceed to do the exact opposite by hiring Ziegler to portray a young woman with autism. This consequently creates an insensitive performance of a portrayal of the autism community. 

Ziegler’s mannerisms and behaviors throughout the film are so extreme to the point where it seems like a mockery to those with autism. 

Furthermore, while Sia has claimed the film to be written for those with autism, Music also features vibrant, clashing colors and strobing lights, which makes the film more difficult for those with autism to watch. 

There’s also a scene where Zu and Ebo bring Music to the park. However, when Music begins to “have a meltdown,” Ebo states, “I’m not climbing on top of a small screaming white girl in the middle of this park. It’s your turn.” Zu then proceeds to sit on Music and restrains her from moving. 

Music is a tone-deaf film for those with autism. While Sia may have had the intentions of creating a film in dedication to those with autism, Music proves itself to be offensive and a negative portrayal of those with autism. 

Jaelyn Decena is a transfer student from MSJC majoring in literature and writing studies with a double minor in film/TV production and film studies. She currently holds the position as the Arts & Entertainment section editor at The Cougar Chronicle. A fun fact about her is that she loves Disney and enjoys roller skating.

The Cougar Chronicle: The independent student news site of California State University, San Marcos