Sia’s response to the backlash surrounding her film Music has been branded ‘concerning’ by the National Autistic Society.
In her directorial debut, the Chandelier hitmaker cast Maddie Ziegler as autistic teen Music, with the decision being criticised, and some being confused about why the singer didn’t cast an autistic actor.
Since the backlash, Music has been nominated for two Golden Globe awards – a decision that has been questioned by critics.
Speaking to Metro.co.uk, Jane Harris, Director of External Affairs and Social Change at the National Autistic Society, said: ‘A lot of autistic people will be disappointed by this news [of the Golden Globes nominations] given the controversy surrounding the film’s production and casting.
‘We don’t know the ins and outs of how the film was produced. But we were concerned by the suggestion that an autistic person wouldn’t be able to cope in the role of the autistic lead character. We know lots of talented autistic actors. As in any job, it’s about understanding the individual and putting in place any support they need.
‘TV and film companies have a huge responsibility in shaping how autism and autistic people are viewed by the public. It’s so important to get it right, which is why we put a lot of effort into working with producers and writers.
‘Autistic characters are always best when they are closely based on real-life. Any film or TV show about autism should involve and consult autistic people. This helps ensure accurate and good representation and, in our experience, makes for a better final piece of work.’
She tweeted that she had ‘two people on the spectrum’ advising her on the film and that she had researched the film for three years, and wrote: ‘Grrrrrrrrrr. F***ity f*** why don’t you watch my film before you judge it? FURY.’
The film also came under fire for scenes in which Kate Hudson’s character, Zu, and Leslie Odom Jr’s character, Ebo, are seen laying on top of Music to calm her down after a meltdown.
For some, the scenes echo the use of prone restraint, which has proved dangerous – and even deadly – for autistic people.
Sia has since apologised, and said that the restraint scenes will be cut from future versions of the movie. She also said the film will include a warning about those scenes.
The 45-year-old tweeted (via Variety): ‘I promise, have been listening. The motion picture MUSIC will, moving forward, have this warning at the head of the movie.’
The warning read: ‘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 w meltdown safety.’
She added: ‘I plan to remove the restraint scenes from all future printings. I listened to the wrong people and that is my responsibility, my research was clearly not thorough, not wide enough.’
She then simply wrote: ‘I’m sorry.’ Sia since appears to have deleted her Twitter account.
Responding to the film’s recent nominations for the Golden Globe Awards, Sia wrote on Instagram: ‘This movie is a love letter to everyone who has ever felt they didn’t have a voice. What an incredible, exciting and unbelievable experience. Congratulations to all the cast and crew, and thank you to the Hollywood Foreign Press. What an honor!’
The film follows Zu (Kate) who becomes her half-sister’s legal guardian, and features musical fantasy sequences to show how Music views the world.
Reps for Sia declined to comment when contacted by Metro.co.uk.
Need support from the National Autistic Society?
The National Autistic Society provides a range of support and services for autistic people.
You can contact their autism helpline, which provides provides impartial, confidential information at 0808 800 4104 (Monday to Friday, 10am to 3pm).
Credit: Original article published here.