REVIEW: “Music”: When spreading awareness becomes encouraging ignorance

Sia’s movie, Music, received criticism since the movie announcement.

Vertical Entertainment

Sia’s movie, Music, received criticism since the movie announcement.

Paris Fietsam, Social Media Manager

In the US, every 1 in 54 children have autism. However, they are very rarely represented in the media. Sia, famous singer, song writer, actress and director is facing a lot of backlash for her new movie “Music.”

“Music,” directed by Sia, is about a nonverbal teenager who has autism, played by Maddie Ziegler. Although Sia created this movie to spread awareness about autism and have a strong representation of it in the media, the effect was quite the opposite.

When the movie was first announced, it had already received a load of criticism. Ziegler, casted as the autistic individual, is neurotypical. She has no history of autism, nor any autistic family members. Many people of the autistic community were angered with Sia because she could have easily chosen an autistic individual for the role but did the opposite. 

Sia also faced backlash for pressuring Ziegler, who had been vocal about how uncomfortable she felt doing this project, into playing the character. 

Since the movie has been released, it has gotten a great deal of backlash. Viewers see it as very ableist and offensive, as if Sia did zero research on the autistic community before the production of the movie. 

Throughout the whole movie, there are lots of strobing lights and overwhelming pictures, things that are obviously not fit for the autistic community. Additionally, Ziegler is acting as a teenager with autism. As she has never been in those shoes, she could not successfully do this. She makes many facial expressions and body movements to mimic those with autism. Due to her neurotypicality, this mimication is very offensive to those who do these things naturally. 

Trisha Kramer, an educational aide at PV, believes that Sia may not be completely wrong. “Someone creating a movie like this could get backlash either way because it is such a touchy subject,” she stated. “It might be too difficult for someone with autism to play that part and unfair to subject them to it, but someone without autism cannot represent autism well.”

The ways in which Ziegler portrayed an autistic individual was substantially over exaggerated, therefore creating a mockery of autistic people. While this may not have been Sia’s intentions, she has done little to change it. 

Senior Logan Croll, who has a brother with autism, believes Sia was not in the right to make this movie. “While stories of neurodivergent people deserve to be told, Sia’s blatant lack of respect for the autistic community shows exactly how important it is for autistic actors and filmmakers to be the ones in charge of productions such as these,” he stated. 

After first hearing criticism of the movie since the trailer was released, Sia chose to ignore it instead of learning from it. When she has received criticism, she has reacted very immaturely on social media, making it seem as though she does not truly care about those in the autistic community.  

Sia has expressed that she wanted to make her movie exceptional, bringing awareness to the autistic community and to tell viewers that they are capable of anything. Her movie had a very different outcome than this intention, mocking the community and doing little research before the film about her characters. 

It did not bring any help or light to those who are neurodivergent, it instead received criticism from the community, which was deserved. 

While Sia’s true intentions are unclear, that does not take away from the fact that her movie is offensive and harmful.