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Singer Sia Kate Isobelle Furler, who goes by the name Sia, is known for her hit songs including, but not limited to, “Chandelier,” “Titanium” and “Cheap Thrills.” Sia released a new movie called Music on Feb. 10 that made waves in the film industry. Critics have not held back with their criticism of the film. Music received a nine percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes and the New York Post described the film as “unwatchable and offensive.”

The movie stars Maddie Ziegler, from the TV show Dance Moms, who plays the character named Music. Music is autistic but Ziegler is not autistic herself. The NY Post describes Ziegler’s portal of an autistic character as “played by Ziegler, who is not autistic, always has her mouth open with a wide grin and exaggerates facial expressions like she’s Marcel Marceau. It’s an uncomfortably heightened imitation that never rings true and verges on mockery.” The NY Post explains that the way Sia directed her movie and has Ziegler act raises the question “Does Sia think that autistic persons see the world like a cokehead Teletubby?”

Person with a clap board on set
Photo by Avel Chuklanov from Unsplash

NY Post is not the only website that shared its criticism. Vulture says the film “might be hilarious if it weren’t so offensive.” The problem, according to Vulture, stems from how the story was written. Vultureilluminates that “Music’s greatest sin may well be that in the guise of giving exposure to an underrepresented community, it actually delivers a silly, cliché melodrama that manages to sideline that community even further. Even if Sia had done everything right—cast differently, vetted the procedures being depicted, etc.—the movie would probably still be terrible thanks to its story.”

In another article, Vulture explains that Sia has given an apology for Music. Despite harsh criticism from many, the film Music was nominated for two Golden Globe awards but did not win either. Sia directly apologized to “the autism community who criticized her decision to cast non-autistic dancer Maddie Ziegler as a non-verbal person on the autism spectrum in the film.”

Fans also explained their disgust with the scene in the movie that shows Ziegler being restrained on the ground when she is having a meltdown. Due to fans expressing their dislike, Sia tweeted “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 enough, not wide enough.”

Sia has also been accused of ableism and putting Ziegler in blackface. According to PinkNews, “In the movie, Ziegler can be seen performing the song “Oh Body” in cornrows and with her face made darker.” PinkNews explains that one critic tweeted. “She is literally in Blackface while portraying just the most violently offensive caricature of autistic people. What’s going on here?”

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Riley is a Sophomore majoring in Digital Media Production and minoring in Film at Florida State University. Riley studied abroad her first year of University in Valencia, Spain. When she is not writing articles for HerCampus she is found on the soccer field, tennis court, or hanging out with friends.
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