As an autistic person, a mum to autistic kids, and a pop culture consumer, I was extremely interested to watch the new trailer for the movie Music by Sia.
The first I’d heard of it was rumblings of distress and upset from those in the community that Maddie Ziegler, a non-autistic woman, had been chosen to play the lead role of the non-verbal title character, called Music.
Watch the trailer for Music - A film by Sia. Post continues below.
Sia has been lambasted for this movie and I feel so sad about that. As a person with autism, who frequently makes mistakes with person first vs disability first language, who has accidentally called Glennon Doyle a “mummy blogger” (the shame!), who can have the best of intentions but still piss people off, my heart breaks for Sia.
I watched the trailer this morning while I was at the gym, and found myself in floods of tears.
The joy that Ziegler captures in her movements as Music! I know from her performances in Sia's previous film clips that she’s capable of tremendous light and shade in her performances.
Should Music have been played by an autistic actor? I honestly don’t know the answer to that. I loved the show Atypical, and Sam wasn’t played by an autistic actor. I know that many talented autistic actors could potentially bring Sia’s vision to life. But, maybe she and Maddie have a shorthand that helped make this easier.
Acting is a rigorous business and can be extremely demanding. That isn’t to say that we as an autistic community can’t act, sing, dance, do whatever we want. I truly believe that, and that’s why I advocate so ardently for my kids and myself.
But, art is art. Sia is allowed to express herself however she likes. She shouldn’t be pilloried because she’s making a representation of a non-verbal autistic person.
I’ve met many such beautiful people, and they’re all different. Every story is different, autism is so wide a spectrum that there’s no one thing that makes you autistic, just a cluster of attributes.