Why ‘Music’ missed the mark

On Feb. 10, renowned pop star Sia released a film called Music that can only be referred to as a disgustingly misguided attempt at an autism musical. In her directorial debut, she made choices that when looked at by any competent person can only be explained as persistent and willful ignorance. With a runtime of 107 painful minutes, it is an unbearable mockery of the autistic and overall neurodivergent community. 

To start us off, as a complete slap in the face to the autistic community, a completely neurotypical woman is cast as the headlining character. Maddie Ziegler is an 18-year-old woman who has no mental disabilities, and yet when Sia gave her the role, she saw nothing wrong with playing a nonverbal autistic woman. 

Not to mention her performance is just disgusting. She wears an open mouth grin and other overdone caricatures of emotions while in the role, making Music seem like a mentally stunted three-year-old. And aside from being “nonverbal” she still screams random sentences when she wants something, such as “Make you eggs!” when she wants breakfast. The way she portrays this caricature of autism is disgusting, gut-wrenching and head spinning. 

Worse yet, when Sia met backlash for her casting, she dug herself an even deeper grave. “I actually tried working with a beautiful young girl, non-verbal on the spectrum, and she found it unpleasant and stressful. So that’s why I cast Maddie.” To many, this quote may seem innocent and even defendable but when you hear why this girl refused the part, you won’t be thinking that anymore. 

Unlike the Pixar short loop, a project on autism that stars a nonverbal autistic girl, Sia’s disaster never tried to make the set more comfortable for the young actress. She kept it loud, chaotic and refused to put in place any accommodations. 

During one scene Sia wanted to have a grown man tackle the actress and physically restrain her with his entire body. This form of restraint isn’t recommended and hasn’t been recommended since the early 2000s. 

Then to further condone her decisions she said she had worked with Autism Speaks. Autism Speaks is a company run by a rich, white couple and has little to no autistic people on staff. They are often seen running commercials showing children at their mental worst and parents at the lowest points. One commercial they ran had a mother stating she wanted to drive off the road with her daughter in the car and kill her. Their so-called charity work is based on “curing” autism and providing several inhumane “treatments” straight out of a Saw movie. 

Any “research” Sia did with their organization is at best wrong and at worst straight detrimental, and this shows in her movie. With her little music videos scattered throughout the movie saying that music is “stuck in her head” and the abhorrent stereotyping of the character of music, Sia had the privilege and the platform to bring awareness and allies to the autistic community, but instead, she made another inspiration porno. 

Music is a bad ripoff of the movie Rain Man. The only difference is that Rain Man was made in 1988 when they had almost no information on the disorder. Sia had no reason to make a movie this uneducated other than to feign support without having to do any real work. She is just another neurotypical making a paycheck off of autistic people’s disorder while simultaneously trying to put them down and treat them like pets. 

Don’t watch Music; she doesn’t deserve the money she spent on it, never mind any profit. 

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