Australian pop star SIA shared a brief look into her upcoming movie “Music” on the 19th of November.
At first glance, the one-minute-long movie trailer, seems like nothing short of your typical bubbly musical; there are dancing children, tons of color and catchy tunes. It all seems very well executed, however, the part that many took issue with is the main character which is a non-verbal autistic young girl played by the actress Maddie Ziegler who is neurotypical.
The petition pleading to prevent SIA’s movie from being released went live just the day after trailer’s release on the 20th of November. Its description states: “Musical artist Sia is planning on releasing a film next year titled “One of the characters in this film, the titular character Music, is autistic. However, she is played by neurotypical actress Maddie Ziegler.”, it continues by stating that “…no autistic individuals were consulted on the film.”- a claim which the artist herself denied on Twitter by saying that she had been researching for 3 years and consulted several professionals. Autistic community found that hard to believe, though, because every mistake in the movie would have been easily corrected had she listened to critique of autistic individuals. For instance, casting a neurodiverse person would have been an obvious choice since autistic people are awfully underrepresented on screen, especially female individuals. Also, the exaggerated visions of the main character coupled with bright colors and flashing lights seemed unfitting for anyone with a neurodiverse experience to watch in its entirety, if at all.
On the more positive side, representation, even imperfect one, matters. Seeing an autistic female person in the main role is truly remarkable! Also, we absolutely have to learn to separate fact from fiction. “Music” is in no way an accurate portrayal of reality, but rather its overly exaggerated version created for dramatic effect. Similarly, the actors are only there to play make believe. Being cast in the role that is far different from who they are in real life and succeeding in putting themselves in character’s shoes shows they have mastered their craft. The entire point of acting is the ability to transform into various people and beings that are often polar opposites of who actors are. If they were to play characters with their matching personalities, that wouldn’t technically be classified as acting and it would defeat the whole purpose of creating a fantasy. One could dissect Maddie’s performance by comparing it to the actual person she is attempting to portray and say that it is inaccurate or disrespectful, but that is an entirely different story that’s up to experts to determine.
Of course, the trailer offers only a small insight into “Music”. We won’t know if Maddie Ziegler and SIA have hit the nail on the head or missed the mark with “Music” until the movie is released in January of 2021, thus we better reserve our judgements until then. What did you think of the trailer? Do you think the movie should be released?
Sources: This Petition To Cancel Sia’s Film ‘Music’ Points Out Autism Activists’ Concerns
AN AUTISTIC REACTION TO ‘MUSIC’ BY SIA
Music, a film by Sia — coming in early 2021