Sia’s ‘Music’ is a good movie, despite the controversy

Music Movie


Amanda Salazar, Editor-in-Chief

A recovering alcoholic gets a call that her grandmother died and that she needs to come and sort through her grandmother’s things and take custody of her autistic teenage half-sister.

This is the overall plot of the movie, “Music,” which was created and directed— as well as acted in, briefly — by singer-songwriter Sia and released in 2021.

While the plot might sound interesting yet simple, the movie and Sia faced harsh criticism over the titular role of Music Gamble, the autistic sisterplayed by Maddie Ziegler. Ziegler, the former “Dance Moms” star dancer, is neurotypical and not on the autistic spectrum.

Ableism activists and people on the autistic spectrum spoke out against Sia casting a nonautistic actor to play this role since there are actors who are on the autistic spectrum that the “Chandelier” singer could have reached out to.

Sia, who has cast Ziegler in many of her projects since 2014 , said the role was originally cast to a non-verbal girl on the autism spectrum, but she left the production because it was too much for her.

Needing someone to take over, Sia went to her go-to collaborator, Ziegler, to play the leading role, Sia explained.

Despite this explanation, the movie still faced a lot of criticism, not for its portrayal of autism but for the fact that Ziegler portrayed the role.

Recently, Sia publicly admitted that she became suicidal and went to rehab as a direct result of all the backlash she faced following the release of her movie.

In an interview at the beginning of January, Sia also said that while maybe her decision to cast Ziegler was unintentionally ableist, it was more nepotism than anything else, because she “can’t do a project without her.”

“I realized it wasn’t ableism,” Sia said. “I mean, it is ableism, I guess, as well — but it’s actually nepotism, because I can’t do a project without her. I don’t want to. I wouldn’t make art if it didn’t include her.”

Regardless of this drama, however, the movie was good and didn’t negatively portray people with autism.

Music is portrayed as a sweet girl who just experiences the world differently than other people. There are even scenes where some of the characters explain to her older half-sister, Kazu, how her mind works and processes things differently than neurotypical people’s brains do.

She was never treated poorly or abused by any of the characters. In fact, it was quite the opposite — throughout the movie, viewers see that so many people love and care about Music.

The film also does a good job at taking a relatively unlikeable character like Kazu, who goes by Zu, and allowing her to find redemption. By the end of the movie, she’s definitely more likable.

However, there are brightly colored dance scenes interspersed every 10 or so minutes in the movie, and
those get quite annoying fast. They are meant to show how Music sees things inside her head, however
they break the flow of the plot.

Overall, it iss not a bad movie, and people who disagree with the casting should consider watching the
film to see that it’s not a negative portrayal, even if its casting is misguided.