Australian recording artist Sia has apologized for the depiction of autism in her directorial feature debut, Music, after the movie surprisingly snagged two Golden Globe nominations.
The film has stirred controversy for casting neurotypical actress Maddie Ziegler as a nonverbal autistic woman who endlessly listens to music on her headphones. An online petition calling for Music to be canceled has nearly 18,000 signatures.
Following its Globes noms on Wednesday, Sia tweeted an apology, promised to remove restraint scenes from the film, and said it will be updated with a warning. She then deleted her Twitter account.
“I’m sorry,” she simply said in one post. In another, she added: “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.”
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Sia also said Music will contain the following warning: “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 w [sic] meltdown safety.”
Sia has previously been involved in Twitter spats on the issue. She noted last November that she tried to “lovingly represent the community.” Many asked why a disabled actor could not have filled the role. Sia fought back, saying at one point, “Duh. I spent three f***ing years researching, I think that’s why I’m so f***ing bummed.”
Music picked up a best picture nomination (comedy/musical), while Kate Hudson was also nominated for lead actress in a comedy and musical. Hudson said she was “speechless” after the nomination.
Our chief film critic Pete Hammond’s verdict was this: “The film was privately shown to me in early December in hopes I would interview Sia and say nice things about her movie; I politely declined after seeing it, finding it lacking in just about every area.”