Since its Feb. 10 release, Music has been the subject of intense criticism due to the film’s controversial portrayal of autism. Singer-songwriter Sia, who wrote and directed Music, has been criticized for her decision to cast Dance Moms star Maddie Ziegler, a neurotypical actor, as a nonverbal teen with autism. Many feel that an actress on the autism spectrum should have been hired instead of Ziegler, calling the decision ableist.
According to CNN, Sia defended her creative decision (in now-deleted tweets), explaining, “I actually tried working with a beautiful young girl non verbal on the spectrum and she found it unpleasant and stressful. So that’s why I cast Maddie” and urged fans to watch the movie before judging it. She also tweeted that she hired “thirteen neuroatypical people and three trans folk” for non-stereotypical roles.
In response to complaints that one scene shows Ziegler restrained to a dangerous degree, Sia apologized per People, and vowed to place a disclaimer in the film. And she admitted that her research “was clearly not thorough enough, not wide enough.” Although those tweets appear to have been deleted as well.
On Jimmy Kimmel Live!, Hudson, 41, acknowledged the need for accurate depictions of autism. “I think when people see the film, that they will see the amount of love and sensitivity that was put into it,” she said. “But it is an important conversation to have, not just about this movie, but as a whole — about representation. For me, when I hear that there’s anybody that feels left out, I feel terrible.”
Hudson, who was nominated for a Golden Globe for her portrayal of Music’s half-sister and caretaker “Zu” in the film, told Kimmel there is “an ongoing important dialogue to be had about neureotypical actors portraying neurodivergent characters” with experts. She added, “We are listening.”
“The spectrum is so wide and should be approached with far more conversation and understanding of how can we be more representative, what are the best ways to do that,” Hudson said. “…We want to tell the best stories we can. There is no part of anybody who wants to upset anybody…it’s our job to listen and encourage more conversation with other people who want to tell these stories.”
Music currently holds a 10% approval rating among critics on Rotten Tomatoes and a petition to revoke the film’s Golden Globe nominations has received over 101,00 signatures on Change.org.
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