Music has just been nominated for best motion picture for a musical in the Golden Globes and I can’t help but be upset.
A few thoughts crossed my mind as I watched the recent interview by Sia. One of them being there are clear discrepancies in her story, another being a lot of autistic people would find the level of movement, colour and noise apparently in the film very uncomfortable sensory-wise making the fantasy of the protagonist unlikely. But even ignoring that, – even ignoring the perhaps quasi-collaboration with literal hate-group Autism Speaks – I feel angry.
The whole restraint scene was awful. I saw the clip on YouTube and my god it made my stomach drop. We’ve all seen characters do “problematic” things in scenes in a film but never have they been seen as the right thing to do by the people involved with the film’s production. The whole scene was of Leslie Odom Jr’s character teaching Kate Hudson’s to literally pin Music down until she calmed down when she was upset. I have no goddamn clue why anyone thought this was appropriate to have included considering a quick news search will show you the dangers and the problems with this approach.
Had something like this happened in another film I’d have been disturbed but not nearly as angry, because another film would not be some sort of attention seeking Oscar bait meant to persuade reviewers to vote for the disabled film. Music is a woke, egotistical and downright ridiculous concept made to stroke egos and make people feel progressive and self superior whilst simultaneously being offensive and cringe worthy.
Of course Sia does not have to answer to me personally. She is a creator of art and up until now, I’d say a good one. I would never want to restrict art or imagination – no matter how personally uncomfortable and upsetting I find a portrayal. I am reasonable and forgiving and autistic and I am perfectly capable of being all three whilst still being upset.
But the whole thing feels icky and wrong and I can’t help but truly believe that If someone had made a film like this including dangerous methods of handling a person, about almost any other group of people, much more people would have been upset. All the woke, progressive celebrities who criticise people for having different opinions, who simp for other celebrities and refuse to be unique or true to themselves – are all silent. Because the sad truth is that when it comes to disabled people – no one really cares aside from your everyday Joe.
If Sia had originally responded with respect and politeness to autistic people’s grievances, I could have a lot more sympathy. People make mistakes – granted few people make three/four year mistakes, taking advice from Autism Speaks and making a movie about a young girl with autism without clearly understanding much about it – but they do. And mistakes, however stupid and lengthy do happen and I can imagine living in the echo chamber of Hollywood and being surrounded by fans and money would have an effect on ones judgement on matters. (I say this not meant as an insult but more of an excuse for her behaviour.)
When Sia first made her comments about not hiring an autistic person due to the fact that it would be “unkind” a young autistic actress responded stating that herself and many others would have been willing and able to play the titular character. Sia replied saying perhaps she is just bad at acting.
I do not know this young woman and I have never spoken with her, I do not know anything about her and yet I feel for her. She responded to Sia’s tweets without being rude and made her point (from what is saw) very well. And multi-millionaire, hero to many, Sia with her millions of followers decided to publicly humiliate a young autistic girl for being unhappy about Sia’s choice.
In an interview Sia states that her desire to cast Maddie Ziegler was “nepotism”. Again I must say – Maddie Ziegler is just young and not to blame for this. According to Sia in the infamous interview she was very worried about seeming like she would be mocking autistic people – a worry that Sia allegedly assured her would not happen. Of course that’s exactly how it looks but that’s on Sia, the team behind it and the casting – being 14 years old and being unable to act as an autistic person in a way that’s respectful and accurate is not the child’s fault. Bad acting is in part the casting director’s fault. (I’m sure she’s a much better actress now – she was obviously fresh out of dance moms and I can’t imagine being an American child reality star leaves enough time to do enough preparation to take on any acting role let alone this particular one.) If she wanted to write a film where Maddie played the lead – totally fine. Just don’t make the main character autistic in a sensory-overloaded film just to feel progressive.
But do I think Sia will be in much hot water? No I don’t, because when celebrities disrespect disabled people the sad thing is – few people care. Truth be told I don’t think that Sia should be cancelled, she may have screwed up badly and she may be blinded by wokeness and self-superiority – but she is probably not a bad person.
Anyway, those are my thoughts on the matter. I hope that it doesn’t win any awards because not only is it under-researched and un-deserving – it means that every Tom, Dick and Harry is going to want to get in on the trend of making crappy films.
Thanks for reading.