The Controversy Surrounding Sia’s Movie: Music


Disclaimer: I have not watched this movie, and this is not a criticism of the movie. 

On February 10th, 2021, Sia released her long anticipated movie, Music, a movie about Zu, a newly sober drug dealer, becoming the sole guardian of her half sister, Music, who is autistic. Although this film has received two nominations at the Golden Globe Awards for Best Picture and Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture for the Musical and Comedy category, more than 60,000 people have signed a petition, published on, to stop the distribution of this film and remove its nomination from the Golden Globe Awards. 

When the trailer was first released and Maddie Ziegler, 14 at the time, was revealed to be taking on a role with autism, the film received criticism from advocates of Autism awareness. The trailer took social media by a storm, and autistic actors spoke up against this poor casting decision. However, Sia did not take the criticism lightly and defended her position while also calling autistic actors: “bad actors.” “I mean, it is ableism I guess as well, but it’s actually nepotism because I can’t do a project with her (Ziegler). I don’t want to. I wouldn’t make art if it didn’t include her” Sia said in a Billboard interview. Despite Ziegler’s concern while filming the movie, Sia continued to push for the filming.

When the movie was released, the autistic community was uncomfortable and angered by the way Ziegler portrayed autistic people with exaggerated facial expression. In addition, the film shows a scene where Music, the autistic child, gets restrained. This was disturbing to many viewers, and parents have voiced that this practice can be very traumatizing for children with autism, and potentially make it worse. As a response, Sia apologized: “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.” 

Directors should fully educate themselves before making movies about a community they are not a part of. Music is a perfect example of a movie unintentionally disrespecting a certain community due to the lack of knowledge that formed inaccurate depictions.