Popular singer Sia’s new movie trailer dropped on November 19 for her upcoming directorial debut film “Music.” Known for hit songs like “Chandelier” and “Elastic Heart,” Sia Furler has written and directed the film, starring Kate Hudson, Leslie Odom Jr and Maddie Ziegler.
Slated to release early 2021, the teaser for the film has already received backlash from audiences. Maddie Ziegler portrays a disabled character who is nonverbal, conveying her thoughts and feelings with a tablet – and fans and disability activists are angry a neurotypical actor was chosen to portray someone on the autism spectrum.
According to Sia, the character is based on the 44-year-old artist’s disabled friend who struggled to be nonverbal, finding it highly stressful. Sia faced the backlash head on, responding to many fans’ frustrations regarding the film.
One user commented: “It’s a mighty shame that someone with such a colossal platform is using it to exclude disabled and neurodiverse actors from their own narratives.”
Sia clapped back, saying “I cast thirteen neuroatypical people, three trans folk, and not as fucking prostitutes or drug addicts but as doctors, nurses and singers. Fucking sad nobody’s even seen the dang movie. My heart has always been in the right place.”
The autistic community did take offense to the new trailer, with the National Autisitic Society criticizing Sia’s casting choice.
In a series of tweets and replies, Sia has continued to defend her choice, stating that the use of a neurotypical actor “was more compassionate.”
“I actually tried working with a beautiful young girl nonverbal on the spectrum and she found it unpleasant and stressful. So that’s why I cast Maddie,” the 44-year-old artist posted.
Sia does not seem to be shaken by the initial response, as she wants audiences to “try not to piss” on the film just yet, requesting them to watch the film before making a judgment. Ultimately, she is “willing to be misunderstood” because she thinks the “movie does more good than harm.”
Sia’s new movie “Music” is set to be released February 2021 in theaters.
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