Remember when you had those songs and artists that got you through some serious times, Sia was one of those artists for me. She had some powerful songs that helped me through a lot like "'Bird Set Free" "Alive" "Unstoppable" and yes the most famous one "Titanium" Sia your music got me through so much especially as someone who is autistic and struggles with life sometimes.
But Sia with your newest project you really screwed up here.
Sias newest project is a film called "'Music" (trailer for context here) it stars Kate Hudson, Leslie Odon Jr of "Hamilton" fame, and former ''Dance Moms" star Maddie Ziegler who has appeared in many Sia videos already. In that film Hudsons character Zu becomes the guardian of her autistic half-sister Music played by Ziegler who is non-speaking, Odon Jr plays Ebo a friend of Zu who ends up being someone that Zu can rely on.
While the film seems to have a good story, given that non-speaking individuals don't get a lot of attention in the media. I don't feel as though it is an accurate representation and a majority of the autistic community agree.
Some of the comments I have seen on articles are kind of ablest saying ''so are you saying that only doctors should play doctors, and only serial killers should play serial killers'' not the same case at all.
Some also may say why we criticize Sia but praise shows like "The Good Doctor" and "Atypical" well Fredie Highmore did a lot of research, including working with a consultant and getting tips from autistic individuals, and "Atypical'' listened to the community and hired a bunch of autistic actors to play an important part in the series that didn't involve just being an extra, which is better research that what Zielger did from what I hear was watching meltdowns posted by parents or caretakers which is not only illegal, an invasion of privacy and they have no place in being on social media, but also doesn't not accurately represent all autistics, it also plays into negative stereotypes.
Non-speaking stories have the ability to be told, I do believe that is important to highlight them, the now canceled sitcom Speechless told a good story about the challenges that a teenager faces having a disability. Come Play is a horror film that has a non-speaking child at the center of the story, and not as a helpless victim or savant either. I believe with the right amount of research, and right amount of time with people who are actually non-speaking the story can be told wonderfully regardless if the actor has a disability or not. Its all about respecting the real life person.
When I saw the trailer for Music I thought the overall storyline was good, but I did not like the way Ziegler kind of did her facials in the film. It looked like how people used to make fun of me growing up. Not to mention there was a lot of really bright colors in the trailer which can cause huge sensory overload for some people.
It wasn't just about casting the neurotypical actress Ziegler in the role, it was how Sia acted towards the community when they confronted her about it, she called them bad actors, well if they were bad actors then why does Anthony Hopkins have Oscar wins? Why was Dan Aykroyd part of one of the most successful films of the 80s, why did Everything Is Going To Be Okay which had the very talented Kayla Cromer become so popular on Freeform? Autisitc people can act they just need the opportunity to prove themselves like some of them have been doing their whole lives.
Sia even admitted that Autism Speaks was on board with this film too and that group is not well liked by many autistics. Three years of research and she couldn't figure out that Autism Speaks is not good for autistics at all.
Sia also claimed to have tried to work with a non-speaking autistic actress but claimed the actress found the job to be too stressful so she cast Ziegler instead. Well I would say that while yes it can be stressful, yes autistics can get stressed easily however it is not fair to lump us all into one category, there are plenty of autistic actors out there who would love to have the job. 85% of autistics are already either unemployed or underemployed so why not help them get out there make sure they can get a job.
She also claimed that hiring someone at that level would be cruel and wanted to lovingly represent the community. You claim to have casted 13 autistic people in the film, but what are their roles? Are they just background dancers? Do they have lines? Did she get their input on the film?
What can we do to help? We can start by showing support to autistic actors, follow them on social media, keep sharing their content, fight for them to be in bigger films. Help them become seen.
Here is a couple of autistic actors you can support
PJ Au (fun fact she auditioned for Cromers part on Everything is Going To Be Okay)
Here are some resources to help autistic actors reach their dreams
Resources that arent Autism Speaks
The Autisticats (very well researched, run by autistic college students)
Paige Layle (learned more about Autism from her on TikTok than Autism Speaks)
As for you Sia, I hope that you learn something from all of this, take time to listen to us. Maybe next time you will realize that there is nothing about us without us.