Sia apologises over autism depiction in her movie Music

Musician’s Golden Globe-nominated directorial debut, which stars Kate Hudson as guardian to an autistic sister, angered autism rights activists with scenes of restraint

Sia, the musician whose debut film earned two Golden Globe nominations on Wednesday, has addressed concerns about the movie’s depiction of autism.

Writing on her Twitter account, which she shortly afterwards deleted, the artist said that she has “been listening” to the criticism surrounding the film’s portrayal of a nonverbal autistic person, played by Maddie Ziegler, who does not have autism.

She said the film will now be preceded with a warning that reads: “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 with meltdown safety.”

She then tweeted: “I’m sorry,” and said she plans to remove the restraint scenes from future prints. “I listened to the wrong people,” she said, “and that is my responsibility, my research was clearly not thorough enough, not wide enough.”

This week, Music was the surprise recipient of two Golden Globe nominations: one in the best musical or comedy category and one for lead actress Kate Hudson.

Watch a trailer for Music

Last November, Sia first engaged online with autism rights activists who felt she was approaching the condition from the perspective of a neurotypical person, as was her leading performer.

At that time, Sia remained robust in her defence of the film, writing: “The movie is both a love letter to caregivers and to the autism community. I have my own unique view of the community, and felt it is underrepresented and compelled to make it. If that makes me a shit I’m a shit, but my intentions are awesome.”

A petition asking for the film to be cancelled subsequently gained more than 17,000 signatures, and the petition page was flooded with responses from people unhappy at both Sia’s approach in the film and her “lack of remorse”.


Catherine Shoard

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
Sia's film Music misrepresents autistic people. It could also do us damage
Autistic people are used to being underestimated and infantilised – but for Clem Bastow it was still a shock to see it on the big screen

Clem Bastow

26, Jan, 2021 @4:30 PM

Article image
Music review – Sia’s controversial film about autism lacks coherence and authenticity
The pop star’s directorial debut is a hodge-podge of giddy numbers and narrative tropes, and its star, Maddie Ziegler, lacks credibility

Luke Buckmaster

20, Jan, 2021 @2:17 AM

Article image
Sia: Music review – so-so soundtrack to the controversial film
The star-studded album from her film about autism should be safer ground for Sia, but even here there are pitfalls

Kitty Empire

14, Feb, 2021 @9:00 AM

Article image
Music review – Sia's tone-deaf treatment of autism
In the singer-songwriter’s simplistic directorial debut, a cartoonish portrayal of autism clashes with a tale of addiction

Simran Hans

14, Feb, 2021 @5:30 AM

Article image
Golden Globes upend history as three female directors nominated
Emerald Fennell, Chloé Zhao and Regina King compete in category previously marked by its male dominance, as Mank and The Trial of the Chicago 7 lead field of overall nominations

Catherine Shoard

03, Feb, 2021 @2:51 PM

Article image
My Heart FM will go on: why popstars are making sweet movie music again
As well as Rihanna anthem Sledgehammer from the new Star Trek film, Sia has written tunes for summer movies The Neon Demon and Finding Dory. How come chart-toppers are hopping back into bed with blockbusters?

Benjamin Lee

01, Jul, 2016 @11:00 AM

Article image
Mona Lisa and the Blood Moon review – B-movie thrills in New Orleans superhero gumbo
The new film from Ana Lily Amirpour will keep the fans happy with the tale of mind-controlling waitress on the loose the French Quarter

Xan Brooks

05, Sep, 2021 @7:45 PM

Article image
Dina review – touching, tender documentary about couple with autism
This beautifully shot movie, whose principals emerge as intensely likable and intelligent, avoids cliche and sometimes feels like an arthouse reality show

Peter Bradshaw

19, Oct, 2017 @2:30 PM

Article image
The Reason I Jump review – an empathic study of nonverbal autism
Documentary inspired by Japanese teenager’s bestselling book takes us into the world of young neurodivergent people across the world

Peter Bradshaw

16, Jun, 2021 @1:00 PM

Article image
Deepwater Horizon review – Mark Wahlberg v BP in angry disaster movie
The actor is a believable everyman engineer in a harrowing, courageous account of the 2010 oil rig tragedy – and the corporate greed that caused it

Benjamin Lee

14, Sep, 2016 @12:30 AM